Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Restaurant of the week:

My favorite category of good food is undoubtedly the kind that is cheap. And while there are many manifestations of good cheap food, they can be horribly difficult to find. Probably fewer than one burger/taco/burrito/hotdog place in five is worth returning to, and only one in 20 are really outstanding. This week, I was fortunate enough to find one of them.

I don't know why it took me so long to try falafel sandwiches, what's there to dislike? They’re fried (good) and wrapped in bready packages (good). However, it must be noted that the fried/bready combo alone is insufficient for tastiness: - I had a burger in Cincinnati that had French fries on it, it was disgusting. I not only quickly warmed up to falafel; I mentally added them to the list of foods to be Sought Out.

At Sunnin Lebanese Café, the falafels make the grade. Unlike most I’ve tried, where 2 – 4 balls of (hopefully recently) fried goodness are stuffed into half a pita, these are rolled in pita bread like a burrito. Inside are tomatoes, tahini, greens (probably lettuce, but maybe not), and falafel of the heavens. It’s a great combination of tastes: sweet, bitter, tangy, earthy – and consistencies: crunchy, doughy, mushy and crisp. Each is a meal in itself, with no accompaniment needed. However, being an American, I couldn’t resist the siren call of some fairly good French fries. I also tried a beef shwarma that was decent, but not in the same league as the other sandwich. If there is anything to improve, I’d prefer the falafel a bit crispier, but I’m certainly not complaining.

Sunnin has now leaped to the front of the falafel pack, and eclipsed Falafel King as my go-to Mediterranean spot. Now, if I could just get them to switch from Pespi to Coke…

Sunnin Lebanese Café
1779 Westwood (Just north of Santa Monica)
(310) 477-2358

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