Don’t expect much atmosphere when you come to Falafel’s Drive-In in San Jose. Parking lot picnic tables on a busy street have awaited hungry diners since Anton and Zahie Nijmeh opened the diner in 1966. With a slow roll-out of introducing California to the recipes of their heritage, the drive-in has established an almost cult following in people who have become addicted to the savory flavors.
So what is falafel exactly? It is a vegetarian dish that begins with garbanzo beans soaked overnight, then seasoned, cooked and shaped into patties or balls which are then deep-fried and served with vegetables and hot sauce.
You’ll find it here in sandwiches and salads. But don’t despair about Falafel’s lack of white linen tablecloths. You’ve definitely come to the right place. What you’ll get is a hearty, satisfying dose of Middle Eastern falafel, tabbouleh and hummus – all homemade with secret blends of seasonings with distinctive flavor profiles.
I’ve had falafel before, but I don’t consider myself an expert. What I can tell you is that the house-made falafel here was the most moist, flavorful and perfectly crunchy falafel I’ve ever eaten. Delicious! Tucked into a pita bread with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and tahini, the sandwich was drizzled with a spicy hot sauce with a sweet/hot afterkick with a complex flavor reminiscent of zesty cocktail sauce. The surprise to me was the beautiful spring green color on the inside of the falafel and the layers of heat in the sandwich. Don’t forget your fork to catch every bite – you’ll be glad you did!
Pick up a container of spice-dusted pita chips with hummus and a tangy tabbouleh parsley salad loaded with chopped cucumber, tomato and onion to end with a truly refreshing flavor after a nice spicy meal. And the award-winning banana shakes are a popular crowd-pleaser.
Available for eat-in, take-out and party trays.
2301 Stevens Creek Boulevard, San Jose, CA 95128