First off, I have some exciting news. Where the Locals Eat, a site that compiles the best food blogs in America, has selected The Unpaid Gourmet to be a featured blog for Washington, D.C. Hooray! Now, The Unpaid Gourmet posts can also be found on Where the Locals Eat. Hopefully, this will attract more readers and publicity, both of which are always appreciated by a novice food blogger like myself.
And now, onto the meat of this post (or in this case, the falafel). I usually try to avoid reviewing chains, but there are some that are just so good, they deserve a glowing review. Maoz Vegetarian is one such chain.
The first Maoz opened in Amsterdam, Holland in 1991, with a mission to “spread the vegetarian lifestyle in mind.” Customers loved Maoz‘ fresh take on falafel and ultra chic look. The company expanded all across Europe and arrived in the States in 2004 (its first U.S. location was in Philadelphia).
D.C. was lucky to get its very own Maoz this year. Located in Dupont Circle, Maoz is nestled between a slightly seedy-looking bar and a worn building with a sign for “Jasmine Therapy” (whatever that may be…). Maoz clearly stands out from its neighbors, with its sleek new sign and bright lime green windows.
Now, I already know what you are thinking. Has this blogger ever been to Amsterdam Falafelshop, D.C.’s ever popular, critically acclaimed falafel shop in Adams Morgan? And even if she has, how could she possibly betray this beloved Washington establishment?
Well, I am here to tell you, dear reader, that there is good–even, dare I say, amazing– falafel outside the confines of Amersterdam Falafelshop and it can be found at Maoz. Maoz has a similar layout to Amsterdam Falafelshop, in that both have the fully stocked self-serve toppings bars (pictured above). Both places have similar toppings too: tabbouleh, cucmbers, lettuce, yogurt sauce, etc. But what sets Maoz apart is their fresh-tasting, virtually greaseless falafel and their crispy, addicting sweet potato fries.
I ordered the junior Maoz sandwich with sweet potato fries and a drink, all for under $10. A junior-sized sandwich seemes small at first, but with the generous portion of sweet potato fries, it turned out to be just the right size. The pita was warm and hearty, the falafel crisp and speckled with chopped parlsey and cilantro. Of course, I piled my pita high with toppings, which included tabbouleh (bulghur wheat with herbs and lemon juice), red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, and marinated carrots. I also highly recommend the garlic sauce–it was sweet and not overpowering, and a perfect accompaniment to both the falafel and those heavenly sweet potato fries.
And oh man, those fries were to die for. I am usually not one to be impressed with sweet potato fries, since I make my own at home (side note: slice up a sweet potato into french fries, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until crisp for your own sweet potato fries!). But the fries at Maoz, I have to admit, were far superior to mine and any others I have tried for that matter. They were piping hot, crisp and salty on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. I vowed to save half of the fries for my boyfriend, but despite my efforts to the contrary, I devoured every single one.
After just a few visits, I have been converted to an avid fan of Maoz. Its sleek, modern aesthetic and fresh, flavorful fare seems to have that effect on all of its devotees–like Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of my favorite writers at The Atlantic, who raved about Maoz in a recent blog post. The blogosphere has clearly spoken: Maoz is awesome.
1817 M St. NW
Wahsington, D.C. 20036
Open M-Th 11a-11p, Fri-Sat 11a-3a