A Return to Falafel Frenzy...err...Factory
Photos by J.C. Reid
Last fall, Robb Walsh took note of a funky new falafel joint called Falafel Frenzy located at 914 Prairie in downtown Houston, pointing out the donut shape of the falafels and the unique coating of sesame seeds. These mentions came close on the heels of an epic falafel discussion in the comments area of Robb's review of another Houston falafel joint, Zabak's Mediterranean Café. This burst of falafel discussion seemed to portend a renewed interest in this delicious, healthy Mediterranean dish.
Then, nothing. In the ensuing months there were very few mentions of Falafel Frenzy anywhere on the Internet, even on restaurant sites like Yelp and B4-U-Eat. Seems like Houstonians fell back on the old falafel standbys at Zabak's and Al's Quick Stop. Maybe it was the obscure downtown location that made Falafel Frenzy an afterthought for Houston diners.
Then a few weeks ago a friend mentioned to me that his latest downtown lunch obsession was a funky falafel joint called Falafel Factory. "Wow," I thought, "two funky falafel joints downtown? This is getting serious." After some research I discovered that Falafel Frenzy had been rechristened Falafel Factory. They were one and the same. The food served at Falafel Factory is very good and inexpensive. For a quick, filling, and healthy lunch downtown, this is a great place to go.
Made-to-order and cooked in a giant cast-iron wok, the excellent falafels have a nice crunch on the outside and are creamy and moist on the inside. They are notable for a strong cumin flavor. When I asked the chef/cook, Tauofik Alchami, what type of falafels these are, he said they were Lebanese-style.
The biggest difference with the falafels at the new Falafel Factory is that the ones that came with my falafel sandwich weren't encrusted with sesame seeds. Not sure if that technique was just a fad, but it looks like they are back to basics.
Previous posts about the falafels at this place did not mention any unusual spiciness or heat, and that was my experience too. The tahini-based sauce that is added is quite mild. To spice things up, ask the counter person what kind of hot sauces are on hand. On a couple of occasions there were some hot sauces in plastic cups that were both unique in flavor and extreme in heat -- use sparingly.
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