Cafe Mogador

101 St Marks PlNew York, NY 10009 • (212) 677-2226 • cafemogador.com
 

I don’t mean to sound like that obnoxious guy in the movie BIG, but “I don’t get it.” This place is at the top of virtually every food blog’s list in the city and it is mediocre at best. I mean c’mon, there are SOOO many other middle eastern and mediterranean joints that are far superior. And it’s not like the vibe is anything special either, dressed like your typical bistro. So what am I missing? The tagines aren’t even served in tagines and are decent at best. 95% of menu lacks inventiveness, not to mention excellence. I mean sure it’s good, but since when does good make it amongst the best Manhattan has to offer?

  

The only things that impressed me were the spicy carrot app and the baklava. Both are worth getting assuming you still wind up here. Beyond that, the tagines and the falafels, lamb kebab and the kofte were all quite good, which apparently mean “eh” in England. Just learnt this and trying it on for size. Thoughts? Confusing?  Well welcome to the club, because the love of this place has me almost as baffled as I was after dining at Uncle Boons. 

 

 

Taïm Falafel and Smoothie Bar

222 Waverly Pl. New York, NY 10014(212) 691-1287taimfalafel.com taimmobile.com

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I’ve only eaten from their food truck, so this review is technically not for the restaurant. Which means décor and service are relatively moot unless you really have a thing for black and green food trucks. But, as far as trucks go I will admit that it’s very nice looking, I suppose. My estimation of the food, however, should hold quite nicely for both, because if they can serve up holy shitters like this off a truck, just imagine what they can do in the kitchen of a full-on restaurant!

Well, fortunately you don’t have to imagine, because I’m about to tell you. For starters let’s give it up to the best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had, no contest. I’ve downed about a hundred of these over the last couple of years and I’m poised to down another hundred without batting an eye, it’s that good. Worth-standing-in-line-for good. So what makes it the messiah of fried chickpeas? First I’d say it’s because these aren’t merely your run of the mill falafels. Be sure to ask for the special falafel of the day and you’ll be taste budazzled by kalamata olive falafels, roasted red pepper falafels, harissa falafels and spinach too. But the awesome doesn’t stop there. These little overachievers go above and beyond, packing their pitas with a cornucopia of goodies that make this thing the size of your head, yet good as all get out.

And if by chance a head-sized falafel sandwich doesn’t sound filling enough for you, I also highly recommend their fries, served with an insanely addictive saffron aioli. So good you won’t know whether to eat it, snort it or shoot it into a vein.

Then, for a tasty beverage to wash it all down with, you can either go smoothie, or in my case, I favor the pomegranate, honey iced tea. Mainly because the other stuff is so damn filling that I couldn’t possibly cram a smoothie down my gullet as well, but also because the iced tea is really great.

So there it is. A falafel food truck worth chasing down like a kid to an ice cream truck.

5 teeth

Juice Press

1 W 22nd St. New York, NY 10011(212) 777-0034 • juicepress.com

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The lunchtime staff has to be one of the nicest, most helpful and generous groups I have encountered at a NYC restaurant. You can literally sample about a third of the menu for free. The prices, however, are a bit steep, which may explain how they can afford to give away all of those samples.

That said, the food- er juices, for the most part are very good and very healthy. A few misses, mostly on the food. But some very strong hits. My favorite in the food dept. would be the For the Love of Kale salad. Served with quinoa, tomatoes, raisins and a wonderful dressing that I believe is avocado based.

One the juice side of things, there are several winners. I like the Doctor Green and Doctor Earth the most, but the Fountain of Youth is also good. That said, if you are feeling a scratch in your throat, I highly suggest you rush over to the nearest location and buy yourself a Spicy Citrus. True to it’s name, this thing is so hot it will literally burn through anything you’ve got going on along with a few vital organs. KIDDING! Well, not kidding about the spicy part. But the healing power of this drink is not to be taken lightly. It is an elixir. Helping me escape the clutches of a cold more times than I can count.

On the snacky side of things, they also have some solid choices like the nuts and trail mixes and some of the best kale chips I’ve ever had.

On the skip it list, however, I would forgo the falafel salad. The falafels taste like compressed balls of tofu, which they probably are. And the key lime pie tastes like a slightly sweeter version of the falafels. They are both textbook cases of vegan food over-reaching to be dishes that it simply shouldn’t be and you can taste those limitations as a result. So keep your orders simple and you’ll be happy. Poor. But happy.

3 teeth

Steuben’s Food Service

523 E 17th Ave. Denver, CO 80203(303) 830-1001 steubens.com

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They had me at “Shakes with Booze.” I got the Grasshopper and man was it good. So was the Philly Cheesesteak. VERY impressive for being so far from Philly and as good or better than any I’ve had.

Now for a bit of blaspheme. I actually didn’t think the gravy fries were all that. They aren’t bad mind you, just nothing worthy of note over scores of other cheese fries. For truly transcendent fries, order the Phoenician fries from Ilili in New York.

Same goes for the mac & cheese. It’s good. Nice crunch. But the cheese blend is what you’d expect it to be. For amazing mac and cheese, try Mizuna in Denver- the lobster mascarpone mac is insane. Or Virgil’s in NY with the spicy hit of black pepper.

The falafel’s were also just okay in my book. Again, not bad, but pale in comparison to Taim in New York.

I think the menu just tries too hard to be all things to all people. But on the whole, I still found it to be a very respectable showing.

3 teeth

The Ultimate Falafel Sandwich

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Taim – New York, NY

Leave it to the chosen people to create the chosen falafel sandwich. Sorry to get all religulous on you, but this sammie is biblical. Crammed to the gills, your pita will be literally hemorrhaging cabbage and hummus and peppers and tahini and about ten other things they manage to wedge in there.

It’s enough to make one worry that the falafel might get lost in that sea of accompaniments, but somehow they pull it off like epicurean pros. Perhaps by creating special falafel flavors you don’t see every day, like roasted red pepper, kalamata olive, harissa and spinach w/ feta.

This is all conjecture of course. Magic is always best left a mystery. I just can’t wait for their next trick.