100 Favorite Dishes: No. 85, Falafel at Zabak's

​This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

There's a reason that we keep giving Zabak's so many Best of Houston awards, and it's not just because we like the always-smiling family who runs this Galleria-area restaurant. Zabak's great falafels are one of the many reasons, too. After all, Robb Walsh once called them "the standard by which Houston falafels are judged."

Falafels can so often be dense hockey pucks of unidentifiable origin, but never at Zabak's. Here, the little discs are lightly crispy on the outside and softly crumbly on the inside, with a fine texture that's not too compact nor too loose. And like breaking open an agate, the dark brown exterior of the falafel parts to reveal an interior of aventurine green, thanks to copious amounts of parsley and fresh jalapeños among the ground chickpeas.

The falafels here are best enjoyed tucked inside a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, tahini and za'atar along with a few dashes of hot sauce -- in case the falafels themselves weren't already hot enough for you. If they are, just get a creamy pool of hummus to cool your palate between bites; it's an excellent pairing for a Houston summer day.

The list so far:

No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19

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