4

Falafel Fracas: Haji-Baba vs. Al-Hana at Baiz Market

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Anyone who's had a foray into vegetarianism or traveled around Europe on a budget has made fast friends with the falafel sandwich. It's cheap, filling, and easy to eat on the go, with a pita outside to hold the lightly fried chickpea goodness on the inside.

Other famous falafel companions include tahini, tzatziki, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and parsley, but the innards rely heavily on who's assembling the sandwich. A good falafel ball is crispy on the outside, but still moist and smushy on the inside and with generous seasoning. This week, we're pitting two of our favorite falafel joints against each other to see who serves the best sandwich.

See Also: - Ramen Rematch: Republic Ramen vs. Sushi Ken - Ten Favorite International Markets in Phoenix - Spice Up Your Life at Baiz Market

In This Corner: Haji-Baba

The Setup: Don't let appearances fool you. The goofy sand dune and rubble mural that seems to have been painted in the era that its set, along with the plain Jane tables and chairs, make Haji-Baba appear as though it doesn't have a lot to offer. But the freshly prepared gyros and flavorful foul moudammas prove otherwise.

The Good: Following the tradition of falafel sandwiches, Haji Baba serves its cheap (under $4) and quick. If you know to ask for it on handmade pita, you'll have a better wrap. The simple sandwich is also larger and more filling than most others we've had.

The Bad: The falafel is a little on the dry side compared to others in town. Plus the wrapping techniques leaves something to be desired -- along with a puddle of tahini on your lap.

In the Other Corner: Al-Hana Restaurant in Baiz Market

The Setup: Just like Haji, Al-Hana is the dine-in section inside a Middle Eastern grocery store and deli. Unlike Haji, there aren't a lot of windows or natural light, so it's pretty dark inside. Don't let that scare you off, though!

The Good: Al-Hana has some of the freshest falafel in town. It's crispy on the outside and bursting with herby flavor inside. You can tell each falafel was made to order, rather than in big batches. Al-Hana's use of pickled turnip and parsley really pop as sandwich condiments, and the wrap stays tucked in through every bite.

The Bad: Al-Hana's super-thin pita is definitely less filling than Haji-Baba's fluffy, pillowy pita. If you're looking to get full, maybe order two of these bad boys. Since it's also under $4, it's not really going to break the bank to order more than one.

And the winner is... Al-Hana. This falafel is so good that we always wonder why we stop at Haji-Baba instead. Although the ambiance is a little dark, the freshness of their food brightens it all up. We could eat this falafel sandwich every day.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.