Best of Buffalo: Falafel
Finding flavorful falafel in the Queen City
Selecting the perfect falafel in a city swarming with shawarma can be tricky, but The Spectrum has done the greasy work for you and found the five best falafel wraps in Buffalo. This Middle Eastern staple is making a statement in the 716 as there are now more than a dozen restaurants to pick from.
These fried balls of mashed chickpeas and spices pack a garlicky punch and are most often served in a pita wrap or over rice. Crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, falafel is the ideal vegan alternative to savory meats often featured in classic Mediterranean food. The falafel wrap made with pita was ordered at all locations to allow consistent tastings.
3234 Main St., Buffalo
Falafel Sandwich: $8.25
The falafel wrap at Amy’s is by far one of the best of Buffalo, plus Amy’s is right down the street from South Campus. Coming from their mixed background of Lebanese and American, their authentic falafel is wrapped up tight with bright vegetables and topped with homemade tahini-based sauce.
The meal has robust flavors and textures that keep the customer going back for more. After the falafel sandwich, finish the meal off with a hand-sized vegan chocolate chip cookie or some homemade baklava.
Lake Effect Diner
3165 Main St., Buffalo
Falafel Wrap: $11
Even Food Network’s Guy Fieri knows that Lake Effect Diner does homemade food right: everything down to their hot sauce comes straight from the kitchen. Situated inside a classic 1950’s metal diner with a substantial kitchen added on the back, Lake Effect is a bustling little place where breakfast is served all day long but it’s the lunch specials that make loyal customers who are willing to wait outside in the lake effect snow for a taste of this cooking.
The falafel wrap here, paired with the fresh French fries and a pickle, spills over the edges of the plate and comes steaming hot from the kitchen. Ask for a side of the hot sauce; your taste buds will thank you later.
520 Lee Rd., Buffalo Or 235 S. Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
Falafel Pita Wrap: $7.95
With four locations in Buffalo, Rachel’s seems to have falafel down to a science. Much like Chipotle or Subway, Rachel’s allows customers to select their own ingredients, completely personalizing each falafel served.
Begin with a base and select from three types of pita wraps or go beyond and choose a rice bowl or a base of fresh cut pita chips. Unlike other falafel restaurants in Buffalo, Rachel’s has a wide variety of additional garnishes, such as dill or garlic sauce and toppings like roasted red peppers or Kalamata olives.
Inside the Commons at UB a smaller version of Rachel’s is tucked back in the corner, but offers a beautiful view of Lake LaSalle out of its back windows. Although it doesn’t offer Rachel’s signature line of customizations, the featured falafel makes its mark on both a Lebanese seasoned rice platter and a pita wrap right in the comfort of campus.
Natalie’s Mediterranean Eatery
807 Millersport Hwy., Amherst
Falafel Wrap: $8.29
Only five minutes from UB’s North campus is Natalie’s Mediterranean food, where the baklava is always hot and the lunch specials are a steal. Most deserving of the top five falafel in Buffalo, Natalie’s has a wide variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, but their massive falafel wrap can’t be beat.
No need for a side dish with this sandwich, but the lunch special saves the customer money and another excuse to taste of delicious Greek home cooking. Choosing from one, two or three sides for no more than $14.99, experience stuffed grape leaves, hummus, or even more falafel.
Their falafel wrap is piled high with crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes, the sour crunch of pickles adds a twist that is greatly appreciated when paired with the creamy tzatziki. The large balls of falafel have a golden brown crust and a smooth green-ish inside providing a colorful explosion that draws your eyes to the prize.
OR by Falafel Bar
3545 Sheridan Dr., Buffalo
Falafel Wrap: $10.99
OR by Falafel Bar has gone by different names and faces, but one thing has remained consistent, and that’s their delicious falafel.
Their new location on Sheridan Drive is one of the few places where guests can experience exotic flavors from eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking traditions while immersed in what the owner, Oded Rauvenpoor, calls a “modern rustic atmosphere.” Catch their Falafel Bar Food Truck, order online or dine in for a flavorful experience unlike others in the area.
There are five iterations of falafel wraps the customer can choose from in addition to choosing a platter or salad option. Some of these options include adding pickled vegetables and hot sauce, hummus, or even fried slices of eggplant. Each crunchy fritter is layered with chopped lettuce and tomatoes and creamy tahini, wrapped tight with a warm pita.
Sharon Rudy is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.