When I eat a falafel, I always compare it to the one I had in Berlin and none can beat it. Perhaps I’ve romanticized the memory a bit, but I still have Paris… uh, Berlin?
The next best falafel I’ve had is at Maoz. It's pronounced mows and when you oder a falafel, you order a maoz. This info will help you in ordering - see the downsides below.
Maoz is a European chain that happens to have it’s only US store on South Street in Philadelphia. The place is t-i-n-y and almost always packed with people. There are no tables in the vibrant Euro interior, but there are a few stools along a street-facing window. If it’s crowded, I’d advise getting out of there as fast as you can. Moaz is really more akin to a street vendor, since there are no tables, everything must be held it your hand, and they really want you to just take your food and leave.
Falafel is their main gig and they do that well. Their balls are not dry – the worst kind of falafel. They’re never burned and they don’t fall apart. You can order your falafel in a homemade regular pita or whole-wheat pita.
The falafels are cheap - a little under $3 for a small and a little under $4 for a regular. Small just means less falafel balls in your pita. Hummus or eggplant will cost you extra, but why fork out more dough when they have a pretty impressive “salad bar” with which to stuff and adorn your falafel filled pita. The bar has cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, tabouli, cabbage, plus more that I’m forgetting.
They also have a handful of different sauces that you can drizzle all over your falafel. They have one sauce in particular that is what really makes their falafel the second best I’ve ever had. The garlic sauce is the one I pine for and keeps me coming back. It’s creamy, tangy, and a little sweet. I put so much of that stuff on my falafel that you can smell me for an entire day.
The other main attraction at Maoz is their Belgian fries and lemonade. The fries are good. The lemonade comes in a tiny cup and is hardly worth the money.
The Downside to Maoz – Unlike my experience in Berlin, the staff is rarely friendly. They’re a little like the Soup Nazi and can get a bit pissy. They used to provide small containers to put your sauce in if you wanted to put more on your falafel later, but they have done away with that. Soon they won’t provide napkins! The last time I went the person who made my falafel actually was nice and smiled at me, so who knows. Maybe the tides are a changin’. The falafel is worth the attitude, though. Just go in and tell them straight up what you want and don’t ask questions.
My Maoz Strategy – Since you’re more than likely ordering and leaving with your falafel in hand, you can not revisit the “salad bar” and re-stuff your falafel as you eat it. I’ve asked for a cup to put a few things in, but got an abrupt, “NO.” Sooo, in order to eat a falafel with lots of goodies in it, you order the small maoz. The small maoz has less balls and more room in the pita for stuffing goodies. First I pile on lots of sauce, then I stuff my pita with some of the smaller and harder to pick up items like cabbage and tomato salad. I then top it with larger items like carrots and cauliflower and go back for another ten of so spoonfuls of the sauce – the spoons are small. THEN… Here’s where I outsmart them. I put more of the larger items between the pita and the paper holder that the sandwich comes in so that I can reload my sandwich as I eat it down.
Ha! Gotcha Maoz!
248 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Open daily at 11 am until late