Maoz Vegetarian

The recent DOH shuttering of the popular vegetarian go-to spot Gobo threw downtowners into a tizzy. Gobo has since reopened (and sounds busy), but still... Though I'm not a vegetarian, and will probably return to Gobo someday, I sympathize with the squeamish. What's a person for the ethical treatment of animals to do?

Fortunately a new rat-free vegetarian take-out place has opened in Union Square, land of the thousand yoga studios. Maoz Vegetarian (pronounced like Mao Zedong), is a popular European falafel chain that's "dedicated to spreading the vegetarian lifestyle worldwide!" Because I am fascinated by things that are popular in Europe but may or may not catch on here, like David Hasselhoff, Mentos, and Pret A Manger, I decided to give it a try.

Though the space itself is tiny, with seating for just three or four people, the green-and-white tiled interior is very appealing. Squeaky clean and minimalist, Maoz is a vegetarian place designed for the IKEA era.

There's nothing particularly revolutionary about a falafel sandwich, but Maoz's extensive toppings bar is a new twist on an old standard. You can go wild piling your pita with cucumbers and dill, bulgur wheat salad, pickled carrot slices, cole slaw, olives, tomatoes and onions, excellent roast cauliflower, even cilantro sauce or salsa.

Dense, bright green and mildly spicy, the falafel tastes fresh and light. Here, too, Maoz shows more flexibility than the average falafel joint by offering it in several forms: as a Maoz sandwich (5 falafel balls) or a Junior (just 3), with feta, eggplant or hummus, or as a salad topper. The hummus is bland, but the Belgian fries are tasty. Like the falafel, they have a nice slow afterburn of Middle Eastern spiciness.

The new falafel shop also presents a solution to a common problem: What kind of portable, healthy food makes for an easy lunchtime picnic in Union Square park? Maoz is the answer. No fork required.

Maoz Vegetarian
38 Union Square East, between 16th and 17th Streets

Mentos: the freshmaker!


oron said...

I went there it’s amazing, especially the free salads bar.
When they’re going to open one in Brooklyn?