Falafel’s Drive-In

Review by: Georgia Kral

On a busy stretch of Stevens Creek Boulevard in San Jose, California, is a squat, unassuming, dark red building. Next to a furniture outlet and across the street from a leather shop for motorcycle enthusiasts, this drive-in eatery, like its neighbors, offers something specific. If you’re craving fast Mediterranean—falafel sandwiches, gyros, hummus, pita—Falafel’s Drive-In is where it’s at.

Open since 1966, Falafel’s is best known for the eponymous chickpea fritters. Available nestled in a pita or on a salad, you can’t lose if you opt for either. And they’re expertly prepared: The exterior of each ball is crispy and crunchy and the interior steamy and moist. Made green by the addition of fresh herbs, these falafel balls stand out. The sauces are also exemplary; from red zhug (spicy pepper sauce) to white sauce to tahini, each sings with it’s own bright flavor. Pro tip: ask for extra zhug if you like a tingling tongue. (And don’t worry, the flavor is rounded out with a touch of sweetness.)

The chickpea spread, AKA hummus, has an almost ethereal texture. Creamy and luscious in the mouth, it’s addictive. You just want to keep dunking, which of course, is the true test of any dip. And while some hummus varieties are heavy on the garlic or tahini, at Falafel’s the flavor is lighter.

Many Falafel’s customers order the banana shake, so I did too. While I appreciated the cool, creamy drink, it was a bit too sweet to pair with falafel. Water is a better bet.

Consider the term drive-in and what likely comes to mind are burgers, fries and cokes—and teenagers in cars. While San Jose is one of the most car centric places I’ve ever visited, the culture at Falafel’s Drive-In is more inclusive. On a recent visit the crowd was mixed: middle-aged coworkers on lunch break, an older couple eating quietly, a small group of female friends playing catch up. All ate together at crowded shared tables in the outdoor seating area, because a true neighborhood spot attracts all kinds of folks.

What To Eat

Falafel sandwich



Falafel’s Drive-In Recipes


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