Euphoric Eats has returned – again. It feels really good to write again, especially after a summer to forget. Enough about me though, let’s get to it! On this culinary review, I’ll be showcasing Mamoun’s Falafel, the pinnacle of cheap eats in New Brunswick.
Its central location on Easton Avenue (in between Somerset and Hamilton) makes it a great option for both the business and school crowds. I’ve been frequenting this Middle Eastern marvel since my freshman year at Rutgers, and if I were to die tomorrow, I would choose to have my last supper here. It’s just that good.
Word to the wise: I ordered a chicken kebob sandwich when I came here with my dad for the first time five years ago. As a lifelong hot sauce fanatic, I thought it would be a great idea to douse my food in what is to this day, the spiciest condiment I have ever consumed. My foray into such hellacious hotness also holds the dubious distinction of making me cry. You live and you learn. Sometimes the hard way.
In terms of the atmosphere, it’s a bit on the smaller side with seating arrangements, but the cozy atmosphere and upbeat, funky tunes more than make up for it. To eat at Mamoun’s always puts me in a state of nirvana. One of the best parts about the menu is that both the herbivores and vegetarians can get along just fine. Or perhaps you like it both ways – Team Omnivore!
The ancient greek playwright Euripides once said, “When a man’s stomach is full, it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor.” This sentiment rings true especially for a broke college student such as myself. At Mamoun’s, you can get the most value out of any restaurant on or around campus. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a personal feast, there are plenty of diverse, inexpensive choices for all types of eaters.
I have a really hard time deciding what to order, because everything on the menu is so damn good. I suppose it makes the most sense to do this categorically. Let’s get to it!
Veggie: The most bang-for-your-buck deal in town is, without a doubt, the falafel sandwich. For just $3.50, you can have yourself a warm pita stuffed with the deep-fried chickpea mix from heaven, along with lettuce, tomatoes and tahini sauce. Garlicky and gustatory, you can also supplement its taste with fresh items like hummus, baba ghanoush, or tabbouleh for just 50 cents more! If that’s not a steal-icious deal, I don’t know what is.
Served over a bed of rice or salad, my go-to vegetarian choice has got to be the combo platter. For just $7.50, you can choose up to three different veggie items to go along with a serving of fresh pita. I like to mix up my platter every time I order it – grape leaves, fool mudammas, and hummus are favorites of mine. The pickles and olives add diversity to what is already an impressive flavor profile. Always make sure falafel is the core ingredient, though. As my friend and Mamoun’s employee Phinehas once told me, “Life is never awful as long as you’ve got falafel.” Truer words have never been spoken.
Observe: a platter of palatable perfection. Indeed, some of the best New Brunswick has to offer.
Meat: If the picture below doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what else will.
Just as the title of the picture implies, it is truly ‘superb shawarma’. Thinly sliced from rotisserie-cooked lamb, this piquant delight is a favorite of mine, and the touch (or dousing) of tahini sauce adds even more flavor to a meat with just the right amount of tenderness. If you’re not a fan of lamb, the masterfully-marinated chicken kebob sandwich may be the move for you; in addition, the kafta and shish kebobs are worthy alternatives. Price: $6.50 for meat sandwiches, all varieties. Not bad!
If you’re feeling like you need to “treat yo self”, go for the extraordinary: the meat AND veggie combo platter. For $12 it won’t hurt your pocket too bad, but it is best enjoyed on an infrequent basis. At least that’s what I do, considering my income is a big goose egg right now.
Sides, Sweets, & Drinks: Out of all the seven deadly sins, gluttony is the one most applicable to my life. So what better place to satiate my gustatory greed than at Mamoun’s?
Alas, there are limitations to eating for this college student, so in order to keep things frugal, sometimes I’ll mix and match a few side dishes to hold me over. Ranging from $2-3 dollars each, you can order items like hummus or baba with pita, a 12oz. cup of tabbouleh, pickles & olives, or grape leaves. Lentil soup is a great choice as well, especially with cooler weather on its way.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the best side of all – falafel, of course. I swear, I could subsist off those bite-sized beauties alone. $2 for 3 pieces? All day, baby. All day.
You can also satisfy your sweet tooth here courtesy of an almighty dessert, baklava. A honey-soaked pastry made with unleavened fillo dough and walnuts, it’s the perfect capper to a meal at Mamoun’s. I haven’t tried the other sweets yet – knafe, mabrumeh, and namoura, but if the baklava is any indication, I’m sure all of them are just as delicious.
As for the drinks, the best refreshments in my opinion are the mango juice and the mint lemonade. Though their flavors are in stark contrast to one another, each are equally refreshing. A great antidote to the tongue-burning hot sauce, the mango juice has a strong sweetness to it, while the mint lemonade offers a more subtle tartness.
There really is never a bad time to eat here. If you’re in a rush, you can call ahead and order takeout. Otherwise, take your time, relax, and enjoy the grub. If your taste buds are overpowered by the hot sauce, well, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Hopefully my review has inspired you to take a trip here soon! Lunch, dinner, or late-night, any meal at Mamoun’s is alright 🙂