5. Niko Niko's. The lightly spiced, supple chickpea patties at Niko Niko's are the perfect filler for a pita sandwich or, if you're watching your carbs, topping on the restaurant's village or Greek salads. Note: While most of Niko Niko's menu items do well as takeout, the freshness of the falafel diminishes directly in proportion to the duration of the car ride home, so try if possible to taste these babies in house.
4. Craft Burger Food Truck. Falafel from a burger food truck? You bet. Further proof that almost everything chef Shannen Tune touches turns out delicious, the falafel from Craft Burger Food Truck is so not an afterthought on a menu largely dominated by meat. These deep-fried discs boast an intense buttery, botanical flavor that is well complemented by toasted pita and housemade hummus.
3. Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine. Showcasing a softer texture than other variants around town, Aladdin's falafel stands out for its sophisticated spice profile owing to a careful combination of white pepper, cumin, oregano, parsley, garlic, and onions. Ask for extra hot sauce for more mouth burn, then put out the flames with fattier, milder accompanying tahini.
2. The Halal Guys. Although gyro is the house favorite at The Halal Guys, the terrific falafel should not be overlooked. The crisp exterior belies a spongy interior that eagerly soaks up all that white and red sauce you absolutely must liberally apply to your rice plate or sandwich.
1. Al's Quick Stop. The falafel from Al's Quick Stop is perhaps the greatest convenience store food in Houston. Shimmy past the shelves of drinks and canned goods to approach the counter where a hard-working team plates Middle Eastern staples such as lamb kebabs, hummus, and tabbouleh made to order. Who knows just what magical ingredient makes their falafel, so brown and crunchy on the outside and green savory-sweet on the inside, so addictive. Just try and prepare to be hooked.