Sunday, April 13, 2008

Veg Out: Maoz & Salad Bar Tetris

Maoz's new motto is Feel Your Falafel. They have a Facebook, a Flickr, a Myspace. For them to set up a second shop right in the Gayborhood is the natural next step in homogenization (you love puns as much as I do). I had to visit to see if it was anything like its father.

The falafel sandwich, which was cutting edge in Philadelphia maybe 11 years ago, is not so much where Maoz excels. Unless you must, see a falafel cart or listen to your Mama's.

The most well-branded falafel chain (Pita Pit, anyone?) has been so celebrated in Philadelphia because fried chickpeas taste even better after midnight. The new location on Walnut St. only stays open until 11pm on weekends, which flies in the face of both logic and the South St. shop's success. If this store has anything over the other one, it's the size. The larger space is well-lit with seating--long communal tables with benches and separate tables and chairs on the side. A row of stools faces a window table. What does this mean? A longer walk to the salad bar, sure, but a license to enjoy your falafel inside.

On to the Tetris. If you're me, you're not here for a sandwich. You've come seeking toppings. Step up to the salad box. It's a lot easier to navigate and comes with falafel piled on top of hummus, chickpeas, lettuce, and charred eggplant. There's more room to build with bulgur, fried cauliflower, cucumber salad, all of the good stuff that Maoz does well. Food ends up in your mouth and not on the floor. It's daytime, after all, your beer goggles are off. You want to look at what you're eating.

In the game of Ultimate Salad Bar Tetris, who will win?

Maoz Vegetarian, 1115 Walnut St

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