How Mamoun’s Became The Most Legendary Falafel In NYC | Legendary Eats

How Mamoun’s Became The Most Legendary Falafel In NYC | Legendary Eats

Medha Imam: New Yorkers
of all walks of life love a cheap, filling lunch of falafel, a deep-fried ball of mashed
chickpeas, herbs, and spices. Today, you can get a
falafel plate or sandwich at food carts and restaurants
all over the city, but 50 years ago, there was only one spot in New York to try falafel, and that was Mamoun’s. Katie Carney: This is
probably the best falafel I’ve had in New York. It’s not easy to say, but it’s true. Isha Shah: We came here
’cause we knew that our trip wouldn’t be complete without having some falafels here. Medha: This is amazing. Hey, I’m Medha, and we’re
here at Mamoun’s Falafel in Greenwich Village on the
historic MacDougal Street. New Yorkers highly
recommend Mamoun’s Falafel for its authentic taste and rich history. So, today, we’re going to try some of the falafels ourselves,
meet with the owner, and learn about the history of Mamoun’s. Tucked in between the world-famous Comedy Cellar and Caffe Reggio, Mamoun’s Falafel has been cooking up its falafel sandwiched since 1971. Galal Chater: It’s a
very traditional recipe, but it’s done right. So it tastes really fresh,
it tastes really good, and I think the falafel itself
is the best in the city. Medha: Family-owned and operated since the beginning, the restaurant helped popularize falafel by serving
musicians, actors, comedians, tourists, and loyal customers, all on MacDougal Street,
for over 48 years. But how did Mamoun’s go from a small, hole-in-the-wall operation to a franchise with 10 locations? It all started in a
cramped apartment kitchen of a struggling immigrant. Mamoun and Maria Chater immigrated to New York from Syria in 1969 and started refining his
mother’s falafel recipe after working at several
restaurants to make ends meet. Galal: Where my family
comes from, in Syria, falafel’s sort of like just
regular sort of street food. It’s almost taken for granted over there. Medha: That’s Galal Chater. He’s one of the four
sons of Mamoun himself. Galal and his brothers took over the falafel business in 1991. Galal: We don’t mess
with the recipe at all. Where my dad left it is
where it’s going to stay because it’s, it’s just, it’s delicious. Medha: In 1971, Mamoun opened his first storefront on MacDougal Street, the same location they occupy today, and served his falafel on makeshift tables with buckets as seats. Galal: MacDougal Street’s always
been, like, a famous block. I mean, in the ’50s, you
had the Beat movement and Jack Kerouac. In the ’60s, you had Jimi
Hendrix, Bob Dylan, all that. In the ’70s, falafel came. So, I think we added to the pantheon of what makes MacDougal Street
both unique and special. Medha: In the 1970s, a new wave of Syrian, Lebanese, and Arab immigrants came to the United
States after the passage of the 1965 Immigration
and Nationality Act, which lifted post-World
War II immigration quotas. With this wave came Mamoun Chater, founder of Mamoun’s Falafel, as well as a larger Arab
presence in the Village. Galal: You know, there were
people who would speak Arabic out on the street. My brother learned Arabic
from working in the store. I learned it, too. And, I mean, my dad really
believes in being a good host and really giving from the heart, and so when he would feed people, it was genuine, you know,
and people would love that. But I think that’s what
started the buzz, really. You know, you gotta go see the Syrian guy who’s, like, serving
food, this awesome food out of a 200-square-foot restaurant. Medha: Word spread, and
soon, Mamoun’s became known as a best cheap eat. And its falafel sandwich? Famous. Galal: The most popular
menu item is by far falafel sandwich. That’s 2-to-1 ratio for everything else
that we serve, combined. It’s simple, it’s elegant,
and it tastes fantastic. Medha: Mamoun’s falafel
sandwiches are all vegetarian, made out of pita bread
layered with hummus, their signature falafel, lettuce, tomatoes, and
topped with tahini sauce. But before the falafel hit the
counters at restaurants…. They start right here,
in Newark, New Jersey, at their very own commissary. Let’s take a look inside of
Mamoun’s Falafel’s facility. Nedal Chater: We have a
10,000-square-foot facility here where we produce the falafel, the hummus, the baba
ghanoush, our main items. And we have processes in check to make sure that the
quality and everything meets our standards. Medha: Mamoun’s legendary falafel recipe starts with parsley.
Lots and lots of parsley. It’s mixed with chopped onions and garlic and combined with a carefully
weighed batch of chickpeas, the key ingredient to falafel. The herbs and chickpeas are ground up, then get mixed with a
special array of spices, including cumin, turmeric, and cardamom. This batter is then ground once more and finally pushed out
into individual packets, which are boxed and ready for shipment. Nedal: What set our falafel apart, if you go to the Middle East,
falafels are mostly chickpeas. They’re not as green, and
that’s a comment we get from all of our Israeli customers or our Arabic customers, “Oh, your falafel’s so green.” And that was a addition we
did to the falafel market, where we added the extra
herbs and spices here. Medha: From the commissary,
the falafel batter heads to one of 10 locations. While the batter is prepared
off-site at the facility, the falafel are freshly
fried at each restaurant, where lines of people await
the savory and crispy taste of the Middle Eastern dish. Customer: The falafel’s probably one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s, I mean, honestly,
the consistency’s great, it’s nice and crispy on the outside and nice and moist on the inside, so a lot to love from it. Katie: The hummus here is amazing. The falafel is perfectly fried. One-hundred percent recommendation. Medha: With all the
customers showering the food with compliments, I
couldn’t wait any longer and had to try the legendary
falafel sandwich myself. So, what I noticed what they
were doing at Mamoun’s Falafel is that they actually smash down each of the pieces of
falafel into the sandwich, so each bite that you’re taking
with this falafel sandwich, you’ll have a bit of a falafel. So you’re not gonna be, like, duped by having just, like,
a piece of pita bread and none of the falafel with it. So, here I go. This is exactly what I
wanted in a falafel sandwich. I usually don’t like tomatoes, but the thing with Mamoun’s
I just noticed is that their tomatoes are really fresh, and they just add more to the flavor of this falafel sandwich, and the falafel itself
did not let me down. It actually has a really
good consistency to it. Really, for four bucks,
this is a great deal. Galal: What makes this place special to me is I grew up here, you know,
my brothers grew up here, and it was always a
family sort of endeavor. We want to see how far we
can sort of take the name, and that’s really what’s
most important to us is just sort of making his name grow and, you know, spreading the food and the love across the country. Medha: Yes, I’m gonna keep eating. I’m gonna finish this.

98 thoughts on “How Mamoun’s Became The Most Legendary Falafel In NYC | Legendary Eats

  1. I love food insider videos! They're nicely filmed and edited and i love that they're so educational and fun to watch! 😀👍

  2. Falafel is to NYC as street tacos are to LA: it's not American in the traditional sense, but have become popular over time and are now one of the signature foods of that city.

    Makes eating all the better for us 🙂

  3. Dude Mamouns is amazing but I’m talking about the Schwarma!!! The falafel is great but if you go there get yourself a schwarma first and foremost.

  4. this place and the king falalfel are the best … one is traditional egg shaped … one is nyc version … money green biatch

  5. Anytime you see lines like that at a hole in the wall place it’s going to be great. This seems like a no brainer for a worldwide franchise rollout. 🌎

  6. The son's chief says israelis tell them the falafel is too green as if falafel were part from Israeli food. It's wrong. Falafel is part from palestinian food and always will be even though Israel always try to appropriate palestinian land and culture.

  7. as a mamouns regular the one thing i can say is if you put as much hot sauce on your sandwich as they did at the end of the video – prepare to feel the burn.

  8. I used to go to Ali Baba directly across the street; just discovered they closed… 😢 They made a mean lamb shawarma AND falafel. Funny, in retrospect, it never once occurred to me to even venture to Mamoun's side of the street. Sorry to hear Ali Baba's gone.

  9. The falafel is fine, it’s inexpensive, the pita and hummus etc. have things to be desired if you are going to title it this.

  10. I would love to try it. I love the fact that they put more parsley. I live in the most popular falafel city in Sweden. We have falafel festivals…

  11. Falafel is decent, but I could never shake the feeling that I was just eating an herbaceous bread sandwich, covered in a salad. Something about it didn't seem like something that should be so popular as a sandwich. Maybe the falafel I had wasn't that great.

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