Budget Eats: Joe’s Falafel for a Fast and Fresh Mediterranean Meal

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Combo Grill with one skewer of beef kebab, chicken kebab, and kefta kebab.  Photo: Karen Young

One of my favorite things is to find little hidden eateries that are inexpensive and perfect for a quick on-the-go bite. My latest find is Joe’s Falafel in a  non-descript strip mall on Cahuenga Blvd West in the shadow of Universal Studios. I took my favorite dining pal who just happens to be my teen daughter because she’s adventurous and likes to share.

Joe’s Falafel, which opened  a year agois an order-at-the counter eatery. Noticeable at first glance is how clean and contemporary it is with a combination of small wood tables, chairs and booths set against white tiles and earth-toned marble.

Owner Joe Mattar took our order. There was so much we wanted to try in that “eyes are bigger than your stomach” mode.  We started ordering only to be stopped by Joe who said we ordered too much. Two pluses for Joe’s — clean and honest.  We hoped the food would add another plus.

Fattoush salad, fried cauliflower and falafel balls. Photo: Karen Young

We ordered the Combo Grill with one skewer of beef kebab, chicken kebab, and kefta kebab and served with hummus, rice and salad. It comes with pita bread, but you can get freshly made laffa bread for $1.50 extra.  Joe’s makes the laffa on the premises and if you’re a bread eater, it’s worth the additional cost.  Although the beef is flavorful, we preferred the chicken because it was incredibly moist and tender (just because it’s rare for me to find chicken I really like).  The kefta  kebab was very tasty and filled with middle eastern spices. The salad was crisp and nicely seasoned with olive oil, lemon and a hint of mint along with a few marinated turnips.

There are so many salad/side dishes to choose—baba ganoush, tabouli, cabbage salad, hummus alone, hummus with shwarma, moussaka and more. I spotted the fried cauliflower and had to have it. There aren’t many local middle eastern eateries that make it, so I wanted to take advantage. We also ordered the fattoush salad which is similar to the regular middle eastern salad with the addition of small pieces of crispy pita and sumac.  Joe added two complimentary falafel balls so we could try those as well.  The cauliflower was just as I remembered —soft and lightly sauteed with crispy bits of browned edges.  The falafel is perfect—crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Next time I may order the veggie combo that comes with hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, cabbage salad, two dolmas (grape leaves) and two falafel balls.

Try the laffa bread instead of the regular pita bread. Photo: Karen Young

Joe’s offers plates and sandwiches with various beef, chicken, shwarma and falafel.  Plates all include rice, hummus, salad and pita and range from $6.99-$9.75, with the exception of the combo plate that is $14 (but big enough to share).  Sandwiches on pita or laffa are $5.25-$7.50.   Fresh soup is made daily. Dessert choices include Baklava, Mallabi, Semolina Cake with Harissa and Rice Pudding.

We ended our meal with small bites of complimentary watermelon which Joe brought to our table. I’ll definitely be back…and soon! I’m also thinking it’s a perfect place to stop to pick up food on the way to the Hollywood Bowl this summer. Definitely three pluses. Delicious.

Joe’s Falafel, 3535 Cahuenga Blvd West (between Broadlawn and Fredonia Dr) (323) 512-4447. Open 11 am-10 pm daily.

Karen Young is the Founder/Editor of MyDailyFind. Email: karen@mydailyfind.com

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.