Sometimes when us New Yorkers get hungry we need something to eat that is fast & cheap. Walk in, order, walk out kind of fast. Cheap? on some days we need a place that’s metro-card kind of cheap. The ironic thing about it is that the best of these places always have a line. Mamouns’s Falafel is the original king of the underground favorite fast food. The twist? It’s some pretty healthy stuff! And fast? The longest lines clear out in just minutes.
If the weather doesn't hold up, there is a counter inside. Eat shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the crowd. Mostly its New Yorkers, but sometimes you see the moment when a tourist becomes a New Yorker for the first time. Eating here counts toward your first NYC creds.
When makers come to NYC we can have really tight budgets. Can you get a full dinner for under $10 that is healthy, easy to find, reliable and clean? YES. Go to Mamoun’s Falafel of MacDougal St. They also have an 8th street location and the food is exactly as good, but it is a place you can sit at a table and eat. Mamoun’s is mostly standing room, a short counter and a bench outside. Half the fun of Mamoun’s is walking a block in any direction into Greenwich Village and finding a cool place to sit and eat.
Why is this part Z and not a regular number, in order, like the others? By the time I got to Mamoun’s I had no more “Maker Faire” stickers, only a few cards left, and I had lost my roll of tape back at “Li-Lac Chocolate” so all I could do is put a few fliers out on the counter. Then I noticed I had one of my special “Street Team” identification left. So I left the materials I could, but right in front of their cash register, where everyone else puts their stickers, I put one of mine. This one is a Street Team “Shout Out” to all my Street Team coworkers everywhere.
Last year, on my first day as a Manhattan school kid, I was really hungry after school. I told my dad I didn’t want to do a long sit-down meal, but I don’t really like any kind of “fast food”. Dad grew up in the “Greenwich Village” section of Manhattan back when it was a really bad neighborhood and his eyes told me he had an idea. I was worried, this can sometimes be good and sometimes… well… it’s at least interesting.
He ordered two “Falafel” sandwiches for each of us, and took a few containers of the red-hot sauce. He then told me stories of people using too much of the hot sauce and they were all funny, even the one about my mom, who thought she could handle anything “hot.” It’s a funny story and it ends in dad getting mom a second sandwich too.
When I took a bite of the Falafel it was like my mouth and brain were having a really long conversation about how to describe the taste. While they were working it out I had a second bite, then turned to this so-called hot sauce. I’m a New Yorker and I have a Korean background, so I thought hot was no big deal. Good thing dad got me a second sandwich too. BE CAREFUL WITH THE HOT SAUCE. After an extra bottle of “mash grapefruit” soda I was okay and finished both.
Since then I have also discovered something there called “Shawarma.” If you’ve seen the avengers movie, and the after credits scene from it, you know the “Shawarma” joke. I was surprised in a good way to find out this Shawarma was a real thing, and that it really is a part of NYC life. Mamoun’s makes the most amazing shawarma ever – it’s grilled sliced lamb with a sesame sauce and vegetables on a pita bread sandwich. If you try it, and you like it, there’s a secret menu item to order. Try it with “Tabouley, oil and lemon” – its a five-layer taste that changes a little every bite.
There’s a big menu of food, drinks and deserts to try there too. I’ve had the baklava, will you beat me to trying the rest? This one is for my fellow “street teamers” – Mamoun’s is tagged for us.
Mamoun’s Falafel of MacDougal Street
119 MACDOUGAL STREET
New York, NY 10012