Maoz Vegetarian has upped the fast-casual falafel game. The bright, clean, eatery opposite Miami Beach’s New World Symphony Park is certified kosher and vegan friendly.
Order a falafel sandwich at the counter, and stuff it with slaw, pickles, olives, tabbouleh, beets, hot green chile sauce, salsa and more. Fresh-pressed juices, vegan soups, and sweet potato or Belgian fries (good with creamy garlic sauce) round out the menu.
Maoz (“strength” in Hebrew) debuted in Amsterdam more than 20 years ago, and has grown into a global franchise operation. Rob and Leslie Ginberg, who discovered the brand in Barcelona, opened one in Boca Raton four years ago, and branched out to South Beach two months ago.
Falafel originated in Egypt, where it was made from fava beans by the Christian Copts for meatless Lenten meals. Arabs made the snack with chickpeas and brought it to Israel, where it is sold at street stands.
At Maoz, the falafel is made from chickpeas soaked overnight and ground with a proprietary spice mixture, parsley, cilantro, garlic and onions, formed into balls and fried in soybean oil. The soft white and whole-wheat pita bread is imported from Israel.
Falafel add-ons cost a dollar and include feta, hummus, baba ghanoush, avocado and hard-cooked egg. The gluten-sensitive can get romaine lettuce topped with five falafel balls plus items from the unlimited salad bar.
Before attending a New World Symphony wallcast or concert, pick up some falafel balls and apple, celery and kale juice for a healthy picnic.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.