Finally Falafel in West Palm Beach
Some of you know of my ongoing search for the perfect falafel. After expressing my disappointment in several West Palm Beach Middle Eastern restaurants I learned that different cultures make and serve falafel differently. So, to be clear, here is my falafel litmus.
I am searching for falafel that is as good as what I remember from Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant in New Haven, CT, circa 1987. With locations in New York and New Jersey as well, Mamoun’s is still going strong, thank goodness.
But I want a Mamoun’s-style falafel in South Florida.
This is where I should probably insert a disclaimer.
Mamoun’s falafel, and other Middle Eastern delicacies, were best enjoyed late at night, after the bars closed, when Mamoun’s was the only restaurant open. Back then you could get a falafel for the few dollars you hadn’t spent on drinks at Toad’s Place. The Middle Eastern music, the Persian rugs and shiny brass and copper décor all added to the flavor, and the experience.
Even so, not everyone enjoyed Mamoun’s. Some of my friends called their falafel “feel-awful,”
perhaps sometimes with good reason.
But still, in my memory, an entire era of my life smells and tastes like Mamoun’s falafel. 20 years and a thousand miles away, I long for that distinct experience.
The last time I was on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach I noticed that Yankee Dog was gone. I wasn’t surprised. I liked Yankee Dog. The thing was, they advertised an extensive menu and round-the-clock service, and ended up serving a limited menu during unpredictable open hours.
Where Yankee Dog once was, on the corner of Clematis and Rosemary, is now “Keese’s Simply Delicious.” Folks from Fort Lauderdale might know Keese’s first location in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
Unlike most places on Clematis, Keese’s doesn’t offer a classy dining room. You can eat at the window counter or on the outdoor tables, or you can take your food to go.
The menu is varied, offering American grill, salads, and Mediterranean and seafood dishes. The Mediterranean options include kafta, shawarma, hummus, babaghanouj, grape leaves and, of course, falafel.
Falafel is available as an appetizer, a dinner plate, a salad and a pita sandwich. After much deliberation, I chose the pita sandwich, and a side of grape leaves.
The falafel pita is made with lettuce, tomato, hummus and tahini. I was impressed with the fresh veggies and the generous portions. I was prepared to be disappointed in the falafel itself, but was pleasantly surprised.
The falafel at Keese’s is delicious. My search for great falafel in West Palm Beach has finally come to a happy conclusion.
My dining companions enjoyed the chicken shawarma and the lemon avocado salad.
Whether you want healthy veggie options or a great burger, or if you are like me and in search of the perfect falafel, Keese’s has everything you need.
Illustration: Golden Falafel Balls on a Plate, Creative Commons, by yummyporky.