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Cafesano Italian & Mediterranean Bistro

Menu Item Spotlight: Falafel and Why You Have to Try It!

Falafel. You might have seen it on a menu in some restaurant, but never dared to try. Trying new foods can be scary if you are not the adventurous type, in which case read on to learn everything you need to know about falafel. Cafesano is here today to demystify this delicious Mediterranean food that is gaining increased popularity in the U.S.

What is Falafel?

Falafel is made of ground chickpeas (same thing that hummus is made of) or fava beans that are typically mixed with onion, garlic, parsley and spices, shaped into balls or patties and lightly fried. Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern street food and can be served alone, with sides and sauces or sandwiched in a pita pocket.

At Cafesano we know our guests are looking for unique and different menu items that taste good and feel good.  We offer falafel in two options at our restaurant in Reston, VA:

  1. Falafel Appetizer:  Chickpea patties seasoned with onions, garlic, parsley, and spices, lightly fried and served with our tahini sauce. falafel skewer
  2. Falafel Wrap:  All of the above plus romaine, tomatoes, scallions, radish and tahini sauce, wrapped in a grilled pita. falafel pita wrap

Is falafel vegetarian?

Yes, falafel is both vegetarian and vegan, meaning that it typically doesn’t contain any dairy, meat or other animal products. The white tahini sauce might fool you into thinking that it has dairy, but it’s actually just sesame seeds mashed into a puree and then mixed with garlic, lemon juice and parsley.

The only things you have to watch out for (which is true for any vegan or vegetarian food sold in a non-vegan food joint) is how it’s cooked. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, ask for the falafel to be cooked separately to eliminate any juices from meat that is being cooked or has just been cooked in the same oil or pan.  At Cafesano, we do not prepare any meats in our fryers.

Is falafel healthy?

Like any other food, falafel is good in moderation. A falafel pita wrap can contribute anywhere from 400 to 600 calories to your daily calorie intake, depending on the size of the wrap and how it’s cooked.

Chickpeas, the main ingredient in falafel, are a good source of fiber, protein, calcium and iron. If you want to further cut down the calories, go easy on the tahini sauce, skip the pita and  enjoy your falafel with a side of fresh vegetables.

What’s the best time to eat falafel?

Falafel is a healthy snack and can also be a great lunch option even if you are not a vegetarian. Falafel pita wraps usually come in generous sizes and one wrap is enough to satisfy your hunger for a while, while supplying your body with necessary nutrients.

If you are a vegetarian, you can use falafel patties as a meat substitute in a burger or serve falafel  on top of your favorite salad with a lemon tahini dressing.   Any time is a great time to eat  falafel!

And let’s not forget about offering falafel to your friends, family and business associates.  A falafel  appetizer is  a perfect way to add a vegetarian option to your catering or party menu, whether it’s a business luncheon, a casual family gathering or a football game.  A falafel appetizer is an easy “finger food” and can be enjoyed while standing up or mixing at a networking function.

And when it comes to choosing catering for your event in Northern Virginia, you can always rely on Cafesano to help you come up with a unique and affordable menu.  Don’t forget – we deliver to Reston, Herndon, McLean, Great Falls and Tysons Corner.

The next time you find yourself looking for a restaurant in Reston, be sure to visit Cafesano give falafel a try – we’ll make sure your first falafel leaves a good impression and a warm memory.