“Do you feel awful? Have a falafel. “That’s the tagline of Falafel’s Drive-In, a walk-in restaurant that has been selling Middle Eastern fast food since 1966. And it really speaks to me, a person who, on a spiritual level, often craves both terribly and a falafel .
Here’s the dish of the day: a large falafel pita and a fresh banana shake for $ 10. As seen above, the falafel pita is an animal stuffed with tiny neon green falafel balls, creamy tahini sauce, ketchup-forward pepper sauce, and freshly chopped vegetables. I’ll give the ketchup as a peculiarity of the place. It’s the fantastically crispy and herbaceous falafels that have remained unchanged since the opening of this place by Zahie and Anton Nijmeh 54 years ago and carry the dish. If you’re feeling cheeky, order a side of fries and cram it into the pita too. Embrace the chaos.
In fact, when you are actually feeling terrible, it is really cathartic. Still thinking about a random idiot email? Let the sauce drip onto the picnic table between your fingers. Not sure whether tomorrow will be better than today? Smear tahini all over your mouth. Worried about the choice? Tear the pita wide open and spill its entrails. (But don’t forget to vote!)
The terrace is often full of people of all kinds: families with young children, technicians and vintage cars. People are coming for the first time and people who have had lunch here every week for decades. This place has been around for so long that the people who didn’t become known as the concept of falafels until 1966 grew and had children of their own. Thanks to the efforts of the Nijmehs, who spent their early days trying falafel balls until everyone got wise, several generations of San Jose residents have good reason to consider this the ultimate in comfort food.
Falafel’s drive-in. 2301 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose. 408-294-7886 or http://www.falafelsdrivein.com/
The best song I’ve heard in a restaurant
A Fool’s Story (Running Back) by Tory Lanez feat. Ashanti at Voodoo Love
Nostalgia for the 2000s is the driving force behind Tory Lanez’s album “Chixtape 5”, and that feeling is just right for this track, which is heavily derived from Ashanti’s “Foolish”. The repetitive keyboard bass riff that drives Ashanti’s track gives Lanez its memetic power. Here he drops it and warps it so that it sounds like you’re hearing it from an underwater speaker until it completely deteriorates in the middle of the song. It’s like playing a long-lost cassette found on the beach. The magnetic tape strip is discolored and covered with barnacles.
What I eat
I actually did an odd little dance when I had my first bite of this pasta that was freshly made casoncelli Bergamaschi ($ 16.25) at Belotti in Oakland. The other people at the bar laughed at me, but they didn’t order this pasta; How could they understand what I was going through? The pasta is filled with beef, ham, pork shoulder and Grana Padano cheese and served with tiny cubes of smoked pancetta, butter and sage. Its intensity of umami taste shocked me into sheer euphoria. This pasta will make you dance like nobody is watching.
In other Italian food news that Squid stew ($ 17), also known as Prupisceddu in Umidu Cun Tomatiga, in La Ciccia in San Francisco is similarly inspiring. The tiny squids are so tender and wonderful, the tomato sauce is warm and spicy, made from Calabrian chillies. This dish is the essence of the restaurant.
Eventually I fell in love with Zareen’s, a Pakistani-North Indian counter with locations in Mountain View, Palo Alto and (soon!) Redwood City. I enjoyed it in a bright dining room full of books and murals Silver spoon Paratha roll ($ 6.29): Onion, chutney, coriander, and grilled chicken boti (vegetarian options available) wrapped in a beautifully flaky flatbread. It’s almost unbearably delicious, like looking straight into the sun on a cold winter’s day.
• In case you missed it, this week I checked out Prubechu, the Guaman restaurant that was recently reborn in the mission. TL; DR: The fish head explains everything.
• In T Magazine, Ligaya Mishan delves into the rise of Palestinian food and how the table can be a place of identity verification. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful piece to mention local restaurants Reem’s California and Beit Rima as part of that wave.
• Alameda has a promising new Mexican dining option with Tacos Super Monilla, the island’s first more than occasional taco truck. Azucena Rasilla has the story at Eater. Now I really want to try them out especially knowing they have campechanos with suadero and chorizo.
Bite Curious is a weekly newsletter from The Chronicle’s restaurant reviewer Soleil Ho that hits the inboxes on Monday morning. Follow us on Twitter: @Hooleil