Global Diner: Falafel

Little Arabia’s crispy fritter is a multinational bite

No culinary neighborhood is more diverse than Anaheim’s Little Arabia, a multi-national microcosm where the cuisines of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq are all represented. But there’s one dish that unites them all: falafel, the spiced chickpea fritter usually served with tahini.

Kareem’s Restaurant is a hallmark of Little Arabia. This no-frills spot serves a number of home-style favorites, including classic Middle Eastern breakfasts. There are, of course, good falafel—wonderfully crunchy things that make a resounding crack on first bite. Stroll in for a late-morning meal and a taste of everything. 1208 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim. 714-778-6829

Zait & Zaatar is a whirlwind of energy. At lunch, a flurry of flatbreads slides into the hot oven until blistered and blackened, shawarma is shaved in heaps from the rotating spit, and falafel by the dozen are formed, fried—and best enjoyed in a combo plate. Order the falafel plate and you’ll get deeply crunchy fritters blessed with fluffy, verdant centers, plus salad, velvety hummus, and pickles. Upgrade to the vegetarian combo for the same addictive hummus, plus baba ghanouj and tabouli. 510 N. Brookhurst St., Anaheim. 714-991-9996.

It’s hard to tear yourself away from the shawarma at Sahara Falafel. In fact, the perfectly spiced chicken and beef may be its true specialty, but that doesn’t make its namesake falafel any less enticing. Plates are popular here, but the falafel sandwich is a great (and cheap) lunch: pliable pita bread wrapped around crisp, herbaceous falafel, lettuce, tomato, parsley, pickles, and a drizzle of tahini. The staff is so hospitable, and so proud of its falafel, that you might even be offered a sample fresh from the fryer. 590 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim. 714-491-0400

Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi

Still craving kebobs? Kareem’s is the place to be.
The chicken kabob is a thing of beauty, each tender hunk mottled with char. But that’s not all. Order the kebob plate and you get rice, hummus, a blistered tomato, grilled onion, and pickles, too.

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