Cheap eats

A flavor-filled Falafel Corner

(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
January 27, 2010

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Falafel Corner takes a little work. You go up a flight of stairs to place your order, then back down that flight and then another flight to eat in a little dining area. And while you’re eating, if there’s a deep chill outside, you’ll feel it when the door opens. Wrap yourself in your coat and dig in.

The food will warm you and so will the immensely friendly owners, Ahmed Naguib and Dany Abo-El-khair, who bring their Egyptian heritage to dishes you may already know. Everything is Halal.

Naguib and Abo-El-khair opened in June, taking the space that was once Greek Corner and adding what look like camel souvenirs, some framed hieroglyphics, and little vases. The partners used to lease Falafel Palace in Central Square, Cambridge, but decided to go out on their own and opened in June.

“The food is all over the place,’’ Naguib tells me on the phone. “The way we make our falafel is Egyptian. Hummus and baba ghanouj are more like Syrian and Lebanese style.’’ The all-over-the-place Naguib is talking about is the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey.

That falafel ($2.99 as an appetizer; $5.75 as a plate) is irregularly shaped with a thick sesame-studded crust surrounding a smooth ground chick pea mixture. Both the appetizer and the plate come with tahini sauce and Cairo salad, a bowl of romaine tossed with tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. An authentic Egyptian red lentil soup ($2.59) is a thin rouge color, very garlicky, and warming.

Foul mudammes ($2.99), cooked fava beans tossed with pomegranate seeds, lots of lemon, and fresh mint, is outstanding. It also comes in a roll-up ($4.25, below). Moist chicken shawarma roll-up ($5.45), filled with tahini sauce and crunchy salad vegetables, is flavorful with subtle spices like cumin (lots of cumin on the meat here, and often cinnamon). Shawarma can also be cut from lamb ($5.45 for a roll-up; $6.99 for a plate) and it too has a wonderful taste. Kafta kabob ($5.45 for a roll-up; $6.99 for a plate) are succulent little ground beef cigars.

Chicken kabob ($5.45 for a roll-up; $6.99 for a plate) is less successful, too dry and probably reheated. A plate of lamb kabob ($10.99) is flavorful but tough.

Triangular-shaped pies, filled with either beef or spinach, are made with yeast dough ($2.45 each). The meat is a fine pie; the spinach not moist enough, but the rich, tender dough is lovely.

Phyllo dough pastries ($1.49 each) are filled with walnuts, crushed cashews, or pistachios, and shaped into bird’s nests, fingers, triangles, and pouches. None are too sweet, all are deliciously nutty and crisp.

The partners are working hard. You’re right there watching them fill your order. They have a few spots to smooth over, none to do with intensely good flavors. In every bite. SHERYL JULIAN

FALAFEL CORNER 8 1/2 Eliot St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-441-8888. Cash only. Not wheelchair accessible; no restrooms.

Prices Soups, salads, appetizers $2.45-$5.75; roll-ups $4.25-$6.45; plates $5.75-$10.99; desserts $1.49-2.99).

Hours Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-3 a.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-midnight.

Liquor None.

May we suggest Chicken shawarma roll-up; falafel plate; lamb shawarma plate; kafta kabob; hummus; tabouli, foul mudammes; meat pie.

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