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February 24, 2010

Wanted: Falafel cart

falafel

I can’t wait for spring, and not just because Baltimore could be in for another 7 inches of snow. I miss Falafel Guy.

I don’t even know his name, but I know where to find him when the farmers’ market under the JFX is open for business. Anyone at the market can direct you to him.

The day I made my way to his booth last summer, he tucked chickpea croquettes inside an oversized wrap along with fresh beet matchsticks, fancy greens and – sounds weird, but trust me here – sliced strawberries. They were perfectly ripe, red-to-the-core local strawberries, too. I seem to recall two sauces – one creamy, one spicy – but memory fails me here.

Falafel Guy came to mind this week when Joe Surkiewicz rang me up to vent:

“Why are there no falafel stands in this city? There should be good, cheap food that you can get from a cart. It’s why it’s a backwater.”

It must be noted that Surkiewicz, who works near City Hall as communications director for Maryland Legal Aid, once had the luxury of a crepe cart just across the street from his office. It was at Lexington and Gay streets, right by the War Memorial Building.

So why the bellyaching?

The crepe cart disappeared. And it wasn't Surkiewciz’s idea of cart food anyway.

“It was very expensive, eight or 10 bucks – from a cart.”

The farmers’ market is only a short walk from Surkiewicz's office. My suggestion to him: Come spring, start working Sundays. It’d be worth it.

 

Photo credit: AP

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:16 AM | | Comments (34)
        

Comments

Baltimore has a lamentable shortage of "street food". you really see this when you go to NYC where you can buy everything from soup to nuts literally off of a cart or a truck on every street. The only street food that we have in the county is hotdogs at Home Depot.

We definitely need more street food. But I wouldn't start with falafel.

"Lamentable shortage of 'street food'"?!? Just go along the Baltimore Convention Center during a blasted Orioles home game, and you'll find all the danged "street food" you'll want!

No Falafel, but there is a cart usually around Light and Redwood (one block S of Baltimore) that has Pit Beef, Chicken, ($4.95) and Lamb (5.95) on a kaiser roll with choices of LTO and sauces that is surprisingly good. It's operated by Cypriana (which I don't work for, just spreading the wealth).

The falafel sounds great . Somehow I've never seen it at the market. I wonder how much else I've missed. In life.

There's a taco truck in Stuart, Florida. Good tacos, good tamales, excellente salsa.

The falafel sounds great . Somehow I've never seen it at the market. I wonder how much else I've missed. In life.

There's a taco truck in Stuart, Florida. Good tacos, good tamales, excellente salsa. Save me a falafel and a whoopie pie for when I get back. Thank you.

Cruel, Laura! Cruel!

I keep waiting for someone to open one of those Korean taco trucks here. Haven't been to LA to sample Kogi BBQ, but I salivate every time I hear about them.

There's a cart downtown by the courhouse on St. Paul at Lexington that looks like it has felafel. I keep meaning to try it, but there's always a line (a good sign).

I'm also a fan of the Koopers mobile burger truck. It's in a different spot each day, and has a pretty decent veggie burger option, too.

If you're lucky to work near a construction site, there are an increasing number of catering trucks that feature home made central & south american goodies like empanadas. mmm.

On the corner of Baltimore St. and Hopkins Place is a Halal food truck. I've had their lamb gyros and they are amazing. I don't recall if they have falafel but you could always ask.

kimmer, I was secretly hoping no one would mention the Halal foods cart that I eat lunch at almost every day! I don't need the line to get any longer :) I'm addicted.

Oddly enough, we have quite a few carts on the campus I work (UMB). There are 4 carts that come to mind - all within a 3 block radius.

One at Baltimore & Green in between the two hospitals (sausage, sandwiches etc.)
One across from the UMMC (hotdogs)
One at the corner of Green and Lombard (sandwiches, hotdogs, sausages, gyros and other rotating items)
One at the corner of Lombard and Pine (But I don't know what they carry.

Oh wait! A colleague said we have another on campus at Baltimore and Pine (again, don't know what's there.)

So, I guess they concentrate where there is a good amount of foot traffic? large amount of starving college kids? I don't know but none sell tacos, falafels etc. Of course, we are so close to Lexington Market and we have a Cypriana's and a Donna's on campus too, so maybe that's it.

You would think that the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus would have more cart vendors, but all we have is a gyro guy, and in the winter he is in Greece. He returns in the warmer months. We use to have a fajita cart, but that didn't last long. Yes, there are the hotdog vendors, but blah to that. Ok there is the NE Market, but after a while that gets old too. Pleassssssssse bring some more cart vendors to the JH campus!

When the couple who eventually opened Cypriana first started, they had a cart at Light and Redwood that served an unbelievably fine chicken and falafel combo.

My mouth waters at the memory.

The PNC building guy and the Mitchell Courthouse guy have very similar menus, but I don't know if they are in cahoots. One says Halal, the other says Mediteranian.

But the menus are essentially the same - alas, not falafel.

But that Cypriana cart is the bee's knees.

I only see the falafel guy at the market or any of the spring/summer festivals. Too bad, he could make a killing downtown.

mobtownmike - those empanada trucks sound good! There aren't any construction sites near me, but I'd be willing to drive to get to one. Know of any locations in particular?

I ate too many chickpeas and now I falafel.

How hard is it walk inside Cypriana for falafel?

AcBmore -- it isn't hard to walk inside Cypriana's for falafel, but we are talking about our dreams for a decent falafel cart or just good street food in general.

one of the street food guys in NYC sells bread pudding! Can you believe that? I saw him on Bobby Flay's Throw Down last week. I think he won too.

He has one of those trucks that he bakes and sells from. How cool is that?

I would never think "bread pudding = street food", but apparently just about anything is!

Denver has quite a few carts and taco trucks. There is a construction site right across the street from me and I hit the taco wagon whenever I see it. Also the best hot dog cart ever. All grilled and many with wild game, including Alaskan Reindeer. Just Google Biker Jims to see this menu. Nothing else quite like it.

Mmmmm, warm bread pudding. Now that sounds great!

I am sorry Kristen! It's just too good not to talk about! I'm usually strolling past there about 4:30 in the afternoon and there isn't much of a line. I can imagine that with food this good it does get crowded at lunch.

I saw the falafel people at the 32nd St Farmers' Market last Saturday. In the summer, they show up at every market and street fair, wrapping up falafel with anything and everything that is season at the moment.

The halal cart on the corner of Lexington and St. Paul is fantastic. And inexpensive. I love that guy.

Over two-dozen replies, and not one person has dropped Parker Posey-in-Party Girl?

I can't be that young -- or that old, can I?

Falafel truck is a great idea if they can also serve shish kebabs in pita breads!

Baltimore deserves more street vendors but the city regulation makes it even more harder to survive in a struggling economy when peope save half of their dinner to fill up their lunch box...

The Kooper's Chowhound Burger Wagon (www.kooperschowhound.com) is a great street vendor serving a large choice of burgers including a veggie option and healthy bison from Gunpowder Bison Farm in Monkton, MD.

Beep beep

Speaking of halal, looks like the French are at it again.

AND speaking of Falafel Guy, does anyone remember the woman at the JFX farmer's market who used to sell amazing, delicious, greasy food like samosas, dosa, and such from a basket? Whatever happened to her?

Not falafel, but I saw a notice at the Rotunda tonight that there's a burger wagon at the back of the Rotunda parking lot every Friday, 11-2.

2/3/2011 (New York City, New York). Good Afternoon. I am a mobile food cart broker that services New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and the Baltimore areas. We offer very competitive pricing on start of the art food carts and trucks with very flexible payment plans. Your vehicle can be custom with awnings, lighted menus, and logo wraps.

In addition, we offer bi-weekly seminars on the successes of running a mobile food business, and we also repair carts. The staff is absolutely wonderful, we work seven days a week and work with people who are new to the business to professionals. Please email burrell.millionaireclu... with any questions or call me 267-738-1656. We would love to hear from you! Please join us for a seminar.


Totally cool that you spammed a year old post. Didn't you see that episode of The Simpsons with the pretzel wagon?? No one here wants to OWN a cart franchise. They just want to eat at one.

It must be noted that Surkiewicz, who works near City Hall as communications director for Maryland Legal Aid, once had the luxury of a crepe cart just across the street from his office. It was at Lexington and Gay streets, right by the War Memorial Building.

mobile burger truck. It's in a different spot each day, and has a pretty decent veggie burger option, too. I'm also a fan of the Koopers

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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