Hookahs and Hummus: Mamoun’s Falafel
by Leslie Singer
I heard the best place for Middle Eastern food was Mamoun’s (emphasis on perfect falafel, creamy hummus, flaky-sweet baklava, tabouli, lamb kabobs, stuffed grape leaves – you get the idea), so I made my way to Howe Street. I entered the simple and small, darkish dining room and BOOM! A 70’s FLASHBACK! The sign behind the counter read “New York and New Haven!” I GOT IT! In my art school days (daze?), Mamoun’s was my go-to in the village. It was fast, cheap and good – a culinary trifecta.
I do need to manage expectations; this is an eating experience, not a dining one; think plastic utensils and paper plates. No alcohol is served, but a wide variety of teas and coffees are on offer, and if the mood strikes you, a Hookah.
As good as their falafel sandwich is, I’m averse to messy food, so I ordered three falafel balls and a hummus plate that’s topped with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and lettuce dressed with herbs and spices along with a side of pita bread. When I order in, we often get the Combination Plate ($9.15); hummus, baba ganouj, salad and falafel topped with tahini sauce and either chicken or shish kabobs. If you’re a hot sauce geek like me, you will appreciate their house blend which you can purchase – but beware, you might combust.
Open from 11 am to 4 am, Mamoun’s is a hub for the after-hours crowd, and with parking in the back, and cheap eats (a Falafel sandwich is under $4), the place is humming. They are going big league by franchising, but luckily the only change so far is that they now take credit cards.
I have never been to the Middle East, but judging by the Middle Eastern families and students that flock to the place, I always feel like I’m in on their secret. And now you are too. Aistamtae!
mamouns.com 85 Howe Street, New Haven