There are, as often happens in fits and spurts, a lot of restaurants opening in Dallas. But it feels as if the majority of new restaurants — or at least the ones that get all the press — aren't exactly affordable in a city with modest increases in median income but ever-skyrocketing housing costs. If there's one part of the city where you aren't likely to hear a lot of philosophizing about income versus cost of living, it's the shopping-heavy Uptown mixed-use development West Village. Which is why it's all the more refreshing to see a new restaurant there that's equal parts affordable, quick and healthy-ish.
Mamoun's Falafel, yet another New York-imported fast-casual Mediterranean eatery that caters to both lunch-eaters and late-night booze hounds, recently opened in West Village between a "chocolate lounge" and a sushi restaurant. You could see this as yet another trendy franchise seeping into city limits, or you could see it as we did: a new eatery where Dallasites can get a decent meal for less than $7, an increasing rarity in this city.
"Known for being New York’s oldest falafel restaurant and the fastest-growing Middle Eastern fast casual concept in North America," according to a press release, Mamoun's first Texas location serves much of what you'd find at any Mamoun's: fast-casual falafel, hummus, shawarma and kebobs. The 45-year-old concept, which started in Greenwich Village in 1971, is likely to remind you of franchises such as Halal Guys and the late Amsterdam Falafelshop, a chain that closed almost as quickly as it swept into Deep Ellum. It's not just overlap in the menu. It's relatively cheap and open late to bar crowds — in Mamoun's case, until 3 a.m. on weekends.
The menu is pretty straightforward: sandwiches and plates made with vegetarian-friendly anchors like falafel and omnivore options like chicken shawarma. Thanks to Mamoun's simple menu, commissary kitchen and bulk buying power, this quick bite won't set you back too much — $6.15 to $9.25 for a sandwich and, at most, $14.95 for a kafta kebob plate.
On our first visit, we opted for the namesake falafel in sandwich form, ordering a riff called the West Village that's made with baba ganouj, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and tahini sauce. The $6.15 sandwich was large enough to constitute a meal, for sure, with the falafel appropriately salty and crunchy despite the sauces seeping onto the yellow basket below.
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There are also sides, such as lentil soup ($3.75), housemade spiced iced tea ($2), and Middle Eastern desserts such as baklava and knafe (both $2.95). Food comes out quickly and easily caters to the meat-free. It's not the healthiest thing you'll find in West Village, but it's far from the unhealthiest. We left feeling full but not in need of a post-lunch nap.
Mamoun's Falafel isn't groundbreaking food, but it's solid, quick and affordable. That's a lot harder to find around Dallas these days, so we'll take it where we can.
3839 McKinney Ave. (West Village)