5 Star Fast Food Restaurant
Five stars for a fast food joint? Is this guy nuts?
We discovered a healthy and tasty “fast food” restaurant years ago when visiting Amsterdam and went back numerous times over several visits to the city. On the way to an early curtain on Broadway recently, we didn’t have time for a traditional meal and were looking for a quick bite. We wandered past Maoz Vegetarian on 8th Ave. (they have 5 locations in Manhattan) and it looked like it fit that criteria plus it was clean and not overly crowded. We didn’t realize it was the same place as our favorite from Amsterdam until we went in and noticed it had the identical layout and menu.
Maoz makes the best falafel sandwiches I’ve ever eaten and offers them in a variety of sizes (we learned that the Junior version would have been plenty big enough as we could barely finish our Regulars) and forms (you can get a salad version, choice of whole wheat or traditional pita or a sandwich meal that includes great fries and a drink for a really low price). The sandwiches come with a whole salad bar worth of help-yourself toppings of various fresh and pickled veggies and a potpourri of sauces, e.g., yogurt, tahini, coriander, and more. You are constrained only by how much you can pile on top of your pita sandwich but are welcome to go back for more salad as you go. You will not leave this place hungry!
I mentioned great fries, but that does not do them justice. They are Belgian style, cut from whole potatoes and are available in regular or sweet potato (highly recommend although they were both delicious) or a combo of both. The unpeeled potatoes are crisply fried, not greasy, and served up in a white paper bag. For those who want to throw caution to the wind, for a mere extra buck on the Meal Deal, you can get a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, made to order in this elaborate 21st century high-tech juicer.
The falafel is outstanding (for those unfamiliar they are made from mashed chick peas, formed into balls and deep-fried) generously sized, crispy on the outside and again, no hint of excess oil. They add eggplant and humus and serve in fresh pita bread in a cardboard holder so you can eat without fear of dumping it in your lap. Once you personalize with the toppings and sauces something magical happens – the whole becomes so much more than the sum of the parts.
So if I haven’t convinced you a fast food restaurant can really be 5 stars, let’s talk value. The regular falafel sandwich meal with all you can eat salad toppings, fries and a drink (which I’ve already established is way more than enough food) is $9.15 ($0.50 extra for sweet potato) and the Junior version which I’ll get next time is $7.75. If you are just interested in a nosh, the sandwiches are around $5. Maoz is a small chain and now has 5 locations in Manhattan. In my dreams they drive McDonald’s out of business and the world will be a healthier place.