The Falafel Invasion has begun. Vertskebap, at the intersection of Walnut Hill Lane and Central Expressway (plus three locations in the suburbs) is the first of a series of fast-food falafel joints opening in Dallas. And the food at Vertskebap sets a high bar for its followers, while still pointing out room for improvement.
“Kebap,” at this chain, refers to the bread, a sort of mutated, ultra-thick version of pita. (Wraps are also available.) The setup is a bit like a sandwich chain: pick your bread, pick your filling, pick your veggies. Falafel is fried to order and has everything we look for in falafel: crisp, crunchy exterior along with a moist, flavorful center. Too many bad falafel places recycle old patties, and the result is a dry, pebbly inner texture that leaves you wondering why there’s a whole culture that eats this. Not a problem at Vertskebap, which claims the heritage of Turkish immigrant-eats in Germany.
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The veggies are fresh, too, including red onion slices spiked with parsley. (To be truly Turkish, they also need a good dose of ground sumac.) And, in case this vegetarian meal is too healthy for you, the french fries, also made to order, are thin and addictingly crisp.
There are some kinks in the system, though. The biggest is service. Falafel and fries made to order are a great idea, and the end result is well worth it, but the process is somewhat chaotic. You must remember to order your fries at the very beginning, for instance, to allow enough time. The group of SMU girls right after us only decided they wanted fries at the cash register, throwing the whole process into confusion. Regular customers seemed to understand a coded language to the ordering process which, to us, is still a bit mysterious. And, certainly, ordering falafel at Vertskebap takes a lot longer than getting a sandwich at Subway or Which Wich.
We’ll no doubt be seeing more innovation in the falafel field in the months to come. The world’s greatest drunk food is on the menu at Big Guys Chicken and Rice, opening in Deep Ellum sometime this fall (GuideLive). Just a few blocks away, Amsterdam Falafelshop plans to open next-door to Luscher’s Red Hots. And, most ambitious of all, The Halal Guys, originally a food cart catering to taxi drivers in New York City, has told Dallas Eater they plan to open 10 (not a typo: 10) locations in Dallas.
It’s no doubt a blessing for Dallas diners, since falafel was specially designed by the vegetable gods to sop up all the craft beer we’ve been drinking. And, if some of the new guys on the block can build on Vertskebap’s success with better bread and an ordering system that tipsy people can actually understand, then our Friday nights will never be the same.