If you follow the pickled cabbage droppings through the Marais, you will find your way to the Rue des Rosiers. This is where the best falafel sandwich in Europe is said to be. And, after wandering around for a couple hours and not really feeling like sitting for one of my usual salads, it’s where I gravitated towards this afternoon.
I was very excited. I had really wanted to go to L'As du Fallafel when I was here last summer but I ran out of eating opportunities. Today was the perfect time.
Or so I thought. Rue des Rosiers is a legit pedestrians-only street in the Jewish quarter, so it’s largely closed on Saturdays, making Sundays a zoo. After fighting my way upstream for a few hundred feet (I really need to figure out my metric conversions), I spied L’As du Fallafel.
But, wait, is that… no, it can’t be… holy crap. The line was probably about 30 people deep, no kidding. I can’t imagine wanting to eat falafel that badly.
But I sort of did still want falafel. And I was hungry. So I decided to go to one of the less acclaimed, but still very popular competitors on the street, Chez Marianne. The line there was a more bearable 10 or 12 people long. It moved very slowly and as I got a little closer, I noticed the couple ordering hand the falafel guy a piece of paper. Then I started noticing the signs saying you had to get a ticket inside—at least that’s what I think those French signs said. I asked the guy behind me and he confirmed, oui, you need a ticket from inside. So, I turned to get a ticket and immediately lost my place in line. Strike two.
Moving on, I came across Chez Hanna. There was a small group of people at the window, which seemed to be moving pretty briskly. This time I noticed pretty quickly that everyone had a receipt in their hand. I put two and two together and went inside to order and get my ticket, then returned outside to wait in another (thankfully quick) line for the sandwich. Finally.
So then I became one of those walking-eaters, with hummus smeared across my cheek, leaving pickled cabbage in my wake. Part of the allure of these sandwiches is the size: they’re so monstrous—a pita, jammed with hummus, warm, crispy falafel, shredded carrots, diced cukes, pickled cabbage, fried eggplant, tahini and harissa—that they’re served with a fork. I loved it, but not enough to go back anytime soon.