Amsterdam Falafel is a falafel shop in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. All they sell is falafel sandwiches, french fries and brownies (which aren’t vegan). What makes them special is that you get to make your own falafel sandwich. They make the falafel for you, put it in a pita and then hand it over for you to add toppings to it from their fixings bar, many of which are vegan. They’ve got guidelines on how to do this, though, so make sure to read the instructions posted on the walls before diving in or you might get yelled at soup nazi style.
Amsterdam offers sandwiches in two sizes: small – 3 balls, and large – 5 balls. I got the large because we’d skipped breakfast. I added hummus, cucumbers with chickpeas and dill, giardiniera and tahini sauce. I also got a small order of fries. The pita was doughy and moist and all of the toppings I added made a winning combination. I love french fries and Amsterdam’s french fries would rank about a six in my book, with 10 being the best. They give you the fries in little paper cones and each of their tables has holes cut into it so you can stand your fries in them as seen in the picture. We were lucky enough to get there as the lunch rush was ending, so we were able to get a table by the window. I got a delicious meal for less than $10 and I left completely satisfied. I look forward to visiting again someday.
I lived in the Washington, DC area for most of the year 2005. I was never much a fan of living there, but the one thing I missed when I moved away was Amsterdam Falafel. I fell in love with the idea of a restaurant that only sold falafel and french fries – it just seemed like simplistic genius. I’ve had falafel all over the country and Amsterdam Falafel makes some of the best falafel I’ve had (the only place that rivals their falafel in my opinion, is a restaurant called Natalie’s, in Buffalo, NY). One of the critical errors I consistently make whenever I go to Amsterdam Falafel since I moved away is that I opt for the full pita rather than the half. First off, a 5 ball sandwich is huge – especially when you add the fixings. Secondly, its very difficult to get a good falafel to fixings ratio. So I recommend getting the smaller size falafel and a small order of fries. As far as the fixings go, I love the Turkish Salad and the Crunchy Onions. This time around I mixed it up and added some Baba Ganoush, as well, which has a delightful smokey flavor. I should note that the vegan and non-vegan items are not clearly marked. Luckily, the items that are not vegan are few in number. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the staff are usually fairly chill.
I do want to take a moment to get on a soap box. I mentioned earlier that Amsterdam Falafel was a genius idea and I’ve even thought of how successful it would be to import the idea here. Amsterdam Falafel is in a bar neighborhood and open late which makes it an ideal after concert snack. You would think that when I saw that Amsterdam Falafel are now trying to franchise the idea that I would be stoked. Unfortunately, part of the charm of Amsterdam Falafel is that it is unique. Our whole food tour last weekend was born out of my primary desire to share Amsterdam Falafel with Lisa, so I rented a car and drove half way across the country so that she could enjoy this rare treat. To me franchising the idea and the name cheapens the experience. Vegan food tours are cool because there are so many unique businesses out there to experience. Once a theme restaurant travels to other cities the idea becomes bland and homogenized like every other crappy “main drag” restaurant. The idea of Amsterdam Falafel one day becoming the next Chipotle has no appeal to me. One of the incidental joys of veganism is the diversity that I’ve gotten to experience – relying on specialty cafes, sandwich shops, diners, and bakeries. I love the idea of vegan food being readily available to everyone, but I despise the McDonaldization of most of America, but I guess that’s the next logical extension of growth and success. Anyway, that’s my tirade.
Amsterdam Falafel Shop
2425 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009