Balaboosta

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I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. And any place that’s serving it with a creative twist, well, I’m automatically intrigued. So, I knew I had to go to Balaboosta in NoLIta. The husband and wife duo who own Balaboosta definitely pay homage to their heritage and family throughout the restaurant, from the pictures on the wall and the backs of the menus. Now, before going, I honestly had no idea that these were the same brilliant minds behind Taim, which I had just recently gone to and had the most incredible Falafel Sandwich. Well, it explains a lot, and these guys are absolutely doing things right. 

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To start, I had a cocktail, Camelia (Pimm’s no. 1, strawberry, cucumber, mint, ginger ale). It was a little fizzy, a little sweet, refreshing, and a little bit strong. No complaints here. 

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Then, we were kindly given a complimentary appetizer along with some friendly conversation. These personal touches really go a long way and bring in an added connection to the restaurant and full experience. I had their Fried Olives with house made organic labne. Oh. My. Goodness. So, I could probably eat these all day, all the time, they were delicious. There’s a common idea that everything is better fried. Well, I’ve never had a fried olive until now, and, yup, it’s way better. The labne, similar to a yogurt, was creamy and delicious and really balances out the saltiness of the olive. 

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For my meal I had the Shakshouka (baked organic eggs in spicy tomato sauce, spinach, grilled sourdough). I loved this. I’ve had Shakshouka before, but this might have been the best one. It’s fresh and healthy, but still has a spicy, comfort food quality that really hits all marks. The sourdough on the side is crunchy and makes for the best little spongy scoop to spoon up all of the tomato goodness.

The Shorts:
Name: Balaboosta
Location: 214 Mulberry Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Without a doubt. Fun fact, Balaboosta is a “Yiddish term meaning the perfect housewife, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook and gracious hostess. She does it all and she does it well!”. And yeah, she’s killin it! 
Would I recommend it? Oh yeah, food so good, even if you don’t know any Yiddish, you’ll be saying “oy” at how delicious it is. 

Taïm

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If you’re craving some fantastic Israeli street food with a gourmet twist, look no further than Taïm falafel and smoothie bar in NoLIta.

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You can grab a seat at their wrap-around counter seating, or, take your food to go. Everything here is made daily with the freshest ingredients, and menu items go from smoothies, to sandwiches, to salads. I love Middle-Eastern food, and I’ve had a ton of it. So, I was up for the challenge for these guys to impress my well trained taste buds. 

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They’re said to have a famous Falafel Sandwich (hummus, israeli salad, pickled cabbage), so, what better place to start than that. I got mine on Whole Wheat Pita with their Green Falafel (parsley, cilantro, mint). So…this was indeed maybe one of the best falafel sandwiches I’ve had. Yes, it’s true. Not only was this sandwich crazy delicious, it was hearty as can be. The tahini sauce comes on the side, and I could probably just do shots of it, it’s that good (well, maybe not, that’s probably gross to do…). The falafel has an amazing texture, it’s crisp on the outside and almost meaty on the inside, savory with great spiced flavor. The fresh tomatoes and pickled cabbage (which is a fantastic slaw just on its own) add a crunch and balance that tie everything together.

The Shorts:
Name: Taïm
Location: 45 Spring Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? You bet your bottom dollar.
Would I recommend it? Tis the season to get Taïm, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-fel.