It appears that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s new offices sit right in the heart of the Great Northern Falafel Belt. We’re a stone’s throw from both Hovan Gourmet and OU For U, which I think are two of the city’s best venues for these fried balls of ground, seasoned chickpeas. Now I’ve learned that if I venture just a little farther afield, more goodness awaits.
Following the advice of readers responding to my recent falafel post, I checked out two places nearby. Cafe Posh in Sandy Springs is a bright, clean, upscale coffee shop with an appealing line up of sandwiches, salads and soups offered at lunch. The falafel salad seemed a bit dear at $9.99, but I enjoyed every bite. The falafel balls themselves are bright green with parsley and have a cakey texture and a fresh taste. Five of them came perched atop a romaine salad outfitted with cukes, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese, roasted red pepper strips and thin, creamy-textured grilled eggplant slices in a tahini vinaigrette. It was as swank a presentation of falafel as I’ve ever seen. My only two minor complaints (besides the price) are these: 1. The salad became a little watery toward the bottom of the bowl, as if the greens were damp going in. 2. The waiter needed to be better trained in table service. He asked if I was finished with the perfectly empty bowl, I said “yes,” and he left it there.
Cafe Sababa, in a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it Dunwoody mini-mall, serves a more straightforward Mediterranean menu: Shish kebab, gyros, tabbouleh and so forth. The falafel sandwich ($5.95, right) was a familiar friend, with lettuce, tomato, tahini and hot sauce in a rolled pita. The balls themselves had that dried-seasoning flavor you’d recognize from a zillion New York street carts. But I was happy that the choice of sides included tabbouleh instead of fries. Chef/owner Doni Tamli is a big, cheerful, gray-haired man who calls you “friend” and pops out of the kitchen to see how things were going.
He brought me a little cup of his house-made szug (left), which is the condiment of my dreams. Gobs of garlic, cilantro, oil and hot peppers combine to felicitous effect in this sauce popularized in Israel by Yemenite Jews. Between the low prices and and the free-flowing szug, I’m tempted to explore this place further.
If you’d like a recipe for szug, I tested one several years ago, and it’s a doozy.