by Jennifer Currier October 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1 Comment

Customers looking to grab some falafel or shwarma at Mediterranean Spot (1501 U St. NW) might have found the business locked and shuttered earlier this week. But the eatery isn’t closed, said owner Ababa Haile, just in the middle of some renovations.

The restaurant will reopen later this week with a new counter and bar area, Haile said when visited today. She added that customers will also be able to order alcohol from the restaurant’s new bar once it passes a final inspection from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).

Though the restaurant has stayed open until 4 a.m. in the past, Haile said she plans to start closing the doors as early as midnight when the business begins serving alcohol.

“Most people love us and have been so good to us,” Haile said, “and we’re excited about these changes.”

by Borderstan.com June 26, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

From Katie Andriulli. Email her at katie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @kandriulli.

This week we fell in falafelove with the DC Ballers truck.

"Ballers"

DC Ballers: Get it soon. (Katie Andriulli)

Food Selection

The “balls” in DC Ballers’ namesake are falafel patties (my third favorite type of ball following meatballs and arancini… I’m Italian, deal with it) but the truck also specializes in hummus, French fries (regular or Greek style with feta, oregano and olive oil) and other Middle Eastern delights including Tabouli (tomato, onion, parsley, mint, and bulgur wheat in a lemon mint dressing) and Israeli salad (tomato, cucumber and parsley in a lemon mint dressing). Carnivores take heed: DC Ballers is meat-free, but the falafels are so hearty you really won’t miss it.

Price Range

Platters (hummus, with or without a falafel, plus Tabouli, Israeli salad and pita) range from $7.50 to $9.50 and sandwiches range from $5.50 to $7. You can also get a side of fries with dipping sauce for $3.50, Greek fries for $5 (well worth the extra $1.50), and hummus, falafel, Israeli salad and Tabouli are all available a la carte for $4 to $5.50. Fresh ginger-mint lemonade, on special, was $2.50.

The Verdict!

  • Wait time: 5/5. There was no line when I arrived promptly at noon, and my food was handed to me (hot!) in less than 60 seconds.
  • Service: 5/5. Efficient and friendly. And they take cards. What more do you need?
  • Bang for your buck: 4.5/5. My order of hummus with falafel came with a sizeable pita, four falafel balls and a TON of hummus, and was filling enough to stretch to two meals, turning my $7.50 lunch turn into two $3.75 lunches, which is pretty magical. The extra $2.50 I paid for their homemade lemonade seemed a little steep, although not inconsistent with what other trucks charge for similar beverages, so I’ll allow it.
  • Deliciousness: 5/5. As a self-described hummus connoisseur, I have probably tried every brand I can get my hands on, but DC Ballers’ puts all of the others to shame. It’s seriously stellar… smooth and creamy with just the right amount of garlic (i.e., lots) and tahini. Game over Sabra. Pack up your individual hummus n’ pretzel cups and saunter on out of here. Thanks for playing.
"Ballers"

A really good pita. (Katie Andriulli)

I have had many a falafel in my day as well and I can say with moderate authority that DC Ballers’ are right up there with the best I’ve had… crunchy and flavorful and they didn’t instantly disintegrate once cut into. The tahini sauce drizzled on top (and in an extra container on the side) provided a lovely dipping sauce and compliment to the hummus.

Now, this whole operation could have fallen apart if the pita was second rate, but luckily, the Ballers have that locked down as well. The pita was obviously freshly baked since it was handed to me piping hot in tin foil. It was thick enough to support the weight of my self-made falafel sandwich without being too bready, and I also I loved the za’atar spices sprinkled top, which gave it a little extra zest.

I also sprung for the homemade ginger-mint lemonade, which was quite pleasant, but could have benefitted from a bit more ice, and/or the addition of gin.

Admittedly, after a weekend of eating badly (re: basically an entire 3-pound calzone in one sitting on Sunday… whoops) I could not muster the courage to order the truck’s other signature dish, the French fries, at lunchtime. However, an acquaintance of mine mentioned that she had tried the Greek fries before and that they were pretty stellar and she is generally pretty reliable, so just take her word for it, okay?

  • Overall: 5/5. Assuming your co-workers aren’t vampires, they won’t mind a bit of a garlic smell in the air (or on your breath) so go get Ballin’.

Follow DC Ballers on Twitter @DCBallers and check out their full menu here.

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by Borderstan.com September 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"falafel"

Zucchini is a good way to start. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com

No expert always does things perfectly, and that applies equally to food bloggers, famous chefs, and aspiring cooks. Learning how to cook well involves experimenting, trying new recipes and, yes, failing.  Many attest to fear of cooking, believing that they might fail before they have event picked up a spatula.  I can tell you from firsthand experience: you probably will mess up, and that’s perfectly fine.

Our mistakes enable us to learn and to come up with our own solutions to a greater extent than consistent success.  In this way, by taking risks with recipes and thinking outside the frozen dinner box, we strive for ingenuity and sometimes even stumble upon innovative new flavor combinations.

Plus, at the end of the day, it is just food.  You can plaster a smile on your face and eat your botched tomato sauce or burnt quinoa anyway, or simply throw it out and order Chinese takeout.  Cooking failures are not going to ruin your life (though maybe your new saucepan), so don’t let your fear of making bad food stop you from even trying!

While I tend to love simple, well-executed healthy recipes, I too have been seeking a more creative approach to my cooking by blending flavors and ingredients in new ways.  One way I do that is by browsing through recipes and food blogs online, some of which come from staff recommendations. I came across these zucchini falafel and decided to try my hand at the recipe; one I had never attempted or thought of on my own.

Well, it turned out quite horribly.  I was off to a fine start squeezing the water from the zucchini and following the procedures as pictured in the recipe, blending herbs and spices and incorporating the squash into the chickpea meal.  However, as soon as I tried to form the patties, it all fell apart, literally, crumbling in my hands.  The balls would not form.  I sort of made mounds on my cookie sheet and hoped for the best.  Once I went to flip the patties, they made a flaky mess all over the aluminum foil.

Any suggestions as to how I can improve my falafels in the future?  I think that maybe next time I will need some sort of binding like an egg, or perhaps my chickpeas were too dry from sitting in the fridge overnight.

So, baked chickpea and zucchini crumbs finally finished, I repurposed my bungled falafel as a sort of crunchy salad topping.  While not my finest moment, I am not ashamed to share that my cooking is not always flawless.  But that’s okay.  Perfection is overrated; failure is real.

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