Amsterdam Falafel is a falafel and french fries shop located at 1830 14th St NW and 2425 18th St NW, with an additional location at L’Enfant Plaza. The photos here are from the 14th Street location, but I have actually been to the 18th Street location more often. Those who know me well know that I am extremely picky about falafel. I spent a summer in Amman, Jordan and became addicted to the falafel at three places: Hashem, Al-Quds Falafel, and Abu Jbara. Afteem Falafel in Bethlehem is also
world-class. My falafel snobbery is to the point where I prefer Jordanian falafel to the subtly different Israeli falafel. Normally, I absolutely hate falafel in the US. But Amsterdam Falafel is actually pretty good. To some degree, what one considers good falafel is a matter of personal taste, related to what goes into the batter (how much parsley, for instance- I prefer no parsley in my falafel). But there are also some basic rules for how not to totally f*ck up falafel.
- It MUST be FRIED. There is a place I’ve seen in Penn Station in New York called “Chickpea” with the tagline “always baked, never fried.” It makes me want to vomit in disgust.
- It MUST be FRESH. The best falafel in the world isn’t good once it’s been sitting out for more than a few minutes. If you go to a falafel place and the falafel comes out of a bin from behind the counter and not fresh out of the fryer, you’re getting inadequate falafel.
- It should be COOKED THROUGH (not gooey on the inside) but also moist and NOT BURNED TO A CRISP.
Fortunately, Amsterdam Falafel follows all of these rules. There are a large number of toppings, though I tend to be a purist and just stick to a couple veggies like tomatoes and onions and top it with some tahini and garlic sauce. This is a matter of country by country preference- Israelis tend to prefer to load their falafel with all sorts of pickles and other accouterments, while Jordanians stick to minimal toppings. I don’t really get why it has an Amsterdam theme (everyone in the Middle East, especially Israelis and Palestinians, are constantly arguing about who had falafel first, but they can all agree it wasn’t the Dutch). It does have a cool Amsterdam “coffee shop” vibe, though, which is fun. Overall, this is a good place to grab a quick, relatively inexpensive bite, and it makes good drunk food as well.