Therese and I have been meaning to try Maoz Vegetarian Restaurant for a while now. The Upper West Side branch is on Broadway just south of 71st Street, and we walk past it all the time on our way to grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and Fairway. Well, one day recently we were across the street at Chase Bank doing some financial business, so we decided the day had finally arrived when we would try it.
The menu at Maoz is pretty much limited to falafel and salads, with frites as the main side dish for either. Therese and I decided to both go for falafel sandwiches with frites. For beverage, she went for a lemonade-tea combo and I got a Boylan Creme Soda.
They have some bottles of dips next to the salad bar that you can squeeze into cups for take out – I got each of us a container of tahini sauce and one of mayonnaise.
When you buy a sandwich, you can top it off with fixings from the salad bar. Therese and I both opted for some red beets and some pickled Asian eggplant. I remembered some amazing pickled eggplant I had many years ago that I’ve never been able to find anywhere, so I wondered if this might be similar. Sure enough, it was kind of in the same ballpark, although not as soft and succulent as I remember the earlier pickled eggplant being.
So what did we think of our experience at Maoz? Well, we opted to eat in, and I was personally pretty uncomfortable on the communal bench which is the only seating there. So if we went back, I would definitely take our food out. The falafel sandwich was good, but like many falafels, it was a little dry. And there was too much bread – while their thick pita shows no signs of ever cracking and splitting as thinner pitas might, it overwhelms the sandwich at times.
The other thing about their sandwich that I found less than satisfactory is a problem I find with most pre-made falafel sandwiches: the salad and the falafel balls are not evenly distributed throughout the sandwich. Ideally, you would want to get some falafel and some salad and pita and tahini (etc.) in each bite; but when the falafel is all at the bottom and the salad at the top, one part of the sandwich is too light and the other too heavy. I’ve only found one place that did it right – there was a place on Second Avenue called Dima Cafe that made a big falafel sandwich where they mixed the falafel and the fixings throughout the sandwich. It was glorious. Maoz’s sandwich, on the other hand, wasn’t bad.