2/16/12

The Namesake of Falafel

One thing any New Yorker can tell you is that there is NO shortage of falafel options in this city. Sometimes I look around and think I'm in Tel Aviv or something. From street carts, to hole-in-the-wall joints, chains to fancy $10 pita sandwiches, how's a girl to choose? While I'm all for the street cart (as long as you don't see any little critters crawling on it), I was recently invited to Chickpea to see what they are all about.

Chickpea in the CitiCorp Building is PACKED at lunch time

A NYC mini-chain, Chickpea has 7 locations throughout Manhattan with an 8th opening soon on the Upper East Side and potentially a site in Brooklyn in the future. Named for the main ingredient in both falafel and hummus, Chickpea was born from the concept that food should be healthy, fresh and innovative. Sure you can get your standard falafel and hummus on a pita, but if you're in the mood for spinach broccoli falafel with jalapeno garlic hummus on a whole wheat pita, they can hook you up too. Another thing that makes them different is that all their falafel is baked, not fried like it usually is. The salad bar is also one of my favorite parts because you can load up your pita or platter with fresh veggies and tahini.

Falafel choices
Hummus choices

In addition to falafel, Chickpea offers meat options like chicken schwarma, lamb kebab, grillled steak and the inventive schwafel (the best of both worlds!).

Chickpea workers
For my lunch, I ordered a schwafel sandwich on whole wheat pita with red pepper hummus. It came in this little cute box that seems like it would make eating falafel on the run an easier task.


When I took it out of the box, it looked like a much more manageable sandwich than some other's I've eaten before. The pita is cooked in a way that makes it more like a taco than a blorb of a meal (I don't know if blorb is a word, but you know exactly what I mean).


One thing I was concerned with was the fact that the falafel was baked, and I thought that might make it really dry. However, I was wrong. The entire sandwich was moist (and not in a soggy pita kind of way) and tasty. The salad that came with it was constantly surprising me with new veggies and the red pepper hummus gave a nice flavor kick.

Moist falafel
The sandwich was the perfect size for a lunchtime meal, not too filling, but the guys at chickpea threw in a piece of their homemade honeycake which I saved for later. I don't usually buy things like honeycake, or any dessert for that matter, with lunch. However, if you find yourself at Chickpea, do yourself a favor and ORDER THE HONEYCAKE!



I'll admit it doesn't look that impressive all wrapped in cellophane, but this moist concoction was jam-packed with so much honey, yet it wasn't sticky. The coconut on top played to another one of my favorite flavors and the texture was cakey and bready at the same time. I guess what I'm saying is Chickpea's honey cake is like the love child of corn bread and tres leches cake, and at only $3.25 it's a steal.

Honey cake close up shot
What I once though was just a standard lunch option is now definitely in my top 10.  Not only was the food tasty, healthy, and wholesome, but the philosophy behind the company and the workers really struck a chord with me. If you have a Chickpea near you, I would highly recommend a schwafel and a honey cake for your next lunch, and if you don't have one near you, I would highly recommend finding one for dinner.
Chickpea Midtown on Urbanspoon

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