Although it feels like $15 sandwiches have become the new normal at San Francisco lunch spots, The Flying Falafel, which opened a little over two weeks ago on Market, is attempting to change that. Chef-owner Assaf Pashut, who says he "grew up on falafel," has taken over the teeny-tiny former location of baked-fry purveyors 3 Potato 4, selling healthy (and inexpensive) falafel sandwiches on pita bread, hummus, and more.
At the new brick-and-mortar, diners can choose from a veggie-laden whole or half falafel sandwich on pita ($5-$7), a platter of hummus, veggies and falafel ($7) and a small sampling of sides like dolmas ($5 for five), tabbouleh ($5) and baklava ($2). The miniature spot is currently open from 10am-8pm; it's also available for delivery through Eat24.
Pashut, an Israeli native, originally launched The Flying Falafel as a school project during his senior year at UC Berkeley. On "Falafel Fridays," the neuroscience major would cook falafel for his fellow students as a healthy alternative to their usual diet of ramen and pizza. Though not formally trained, he's perfected his falafel recipe through stints at various South Bay farmer's markets. "You try things and you learn as you go," he says.
And for those wondering about the name: "It's a tradition that you have to try the falafel before you buy it," says Pashut, which often means that the product comes flying towards customers as they enter the store. If all goes well, falafels will continue to fly at more locations of the shop in the near future; Pashut is already looking for a second spot in the South Bay, where most of his farmer's market fan base is located.