Val enjoyed Naples’ Falafel Grill, so I had to visit -just a few doors away from Saffron Indian Restaurant, and from Mimi’s and Asia Pok Market. Hidden in the angle of the L-shaped strip center behind the Hess gas station, it’s one for insiders! Charleston foodie Rya was telling owner Feibi (Phoebe) how she enjoyed her meal. She said she’d email me, so I could come taste it, and blog about it...and in I walked, right on cue! Blew my cover, and it didn't matter!
Fresh Carrots, Broccoli, Green Beans and Pita Bread
Ashraf and Feibi holding Falafel Sampler
It's only been open a few weeks, and already the customer demand has them staffing up for dinner It’s a couple’s spot, a family spot, and a popular take out delight. I enjoyed dining and people watching, while talking with nearby people. It is very casual- come as you are, and you’re fine. The interior is simple, not fancy, with pale green walls, tan tile floors, and comfortable seating at six gray topped tables. There's no definite "atmosphere" yet, that will follow.
Fresh, wonderfully spiced food is the magnet. It’s authentic, and the prices are 1/2 of some of Naples prices. Owners Feibi covers the front of the house, and husband-chef Raaf Gouda covers the back, along with Chef Ashraf. Lucinda, who visited Egypt years ago, is the general manager. The Goudas hail from Egypt. Raaf was at the Registry Hotel years ago. They bake the bread daily, and wash the chickpeas several times, till just right for the next step. A peek in the open kitchen shows fresh, plump eggplant, zucchini, carrots, and tomatoes.
Middle Eastern food is vegetarian friendly. There’s also chicken, beef and shrimp selections. Portions are big, prices small. Perfect for any budget. Three people can eat well, and still get change from a $20 bill-top that!
I had a bowl of the freshly made vegetarian lentil soup ($2.95 cup, 3.75 bowl), It has a delicious mix of seasonal vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots and tomato, and tasted of garlic, cilantro and cumin. A great start. Feibi Shows How to Wash ChickpeasFalafel is a vegetarian tradition. Chick peas are soaked overnight, crushed, and combined with onion, cilantro, parsley, and garlic. There may be caramelized onions, olive oil, and other local ingredients. Cumin and coriander are popular spices. Egyptian style favors fava beans Coptic Christians take credit for starting falafel. It has become a favorite of Palestinians, Israelis, and Syrians. A patty, cylinder, or more commonly a ping pong ball sized portion is quickly deep fried at about 370 degrees F., The falafel thus cooked have crispy goodness outside, and are luscious inside. Serve them plain, drizzled with tahina/tahini, or wrapped in a pita with lettuce and tomato. Falafel Grill’s Classic Falafel dish serves falafel with a mix or organic greens, tomatoes, onions and tahina sauce ($4.95).
The Supreme Falafel has falafel and minced garlic, and eggplante added to the Classic, for $5.95. I like the $5.95 Sampler, below, with hummus, tabouleh, and baba ghanoush in cups; the falafel patties aredrizzled with tahina. Deep fried pita bread wedges are wonderful on their own, or with the dips!
Falafel can even come with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese (5.95); there’s no end to the variations.
The Greek Gyro’s sliced lamb, with onion, tomato and tzatziki sauce (5.95), or the Kofta Kebab’s grilled spiced ground beef , are popular, along with grilled Mediterranean Chicken Breast (6.5), Spicy Shrimp (6.95) and the Fish Sandwich’s fried tilapia with signature sauce (6.95). Sides include Hummus’s pureed garbanzo beans, Baba Ghanaush’s spiced roasted eggplant, and Tabouli Salad’s cracked bulgur wheat, parsley, tomato and cucumber.
Dinners come with rice and a salad or vegetable. Tonight’s specials are Kofta Kebab for $9..95, Chicken Kabab (10.95, and Beef Kabab for $12.95. Mix and match!
For dessert, I had the basbosa, a semolina flour-based dish with sort of a cornbread-like texture, with sliced coconut, hint of vanilla, eggs and nuts cooked, then drizzled with simple syrup. This is best paired with a dollop of its whipped cream in every bite. Baklava is also available.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner, are served, 10:30 am till 9 pm, closed Sundays. Call in an order, and pick it up, if on a tight schedule. There's kids meals with chicken nuggets, or hamburger and fries, each is $2.99.
2075 Pine Ridge Road, behind the Hess gas station, 514-1787