Everyday Eats: Falafel at Vanoos Grillette
Tender falafel "nuggets" and crisp Israeli pickle spears make for a gloriously delicious sandwich.
The falafel sandwich ($6.49) at Vanoos Grillette is a messy, glorious beast. It's also a touch untraditional, but still my new favorite version of the popular Mediterranean/Middle Eastern sandwich in San Diego. The key difference is the falafel balls themselves, which are fried fresh to order and have shredded veggies mixed in with the chickpeas, allowing them to be lightly crisp on the outside, but tender in the middle (unlike some spots whose balls are too tightly packed, overly crunchy, and dry). They're also more free-form in shape -- more like falafel nuggets than falafel balls.
On top, there's a generous dousing of tahini, handfuls of crunchy cabbage, tomato slices, and Israeli pickle spears -- gherkins pickled in a salt water brine. A warmed-up round of flatbread just barely holds the whole thing together.
One major plus about the sandwich is even though it's packed with flavor, the garlic is subdued, so you can avoid the three hours' of dragon breath that can sometimes be a side effect of falafel. If you need some extra heat, ask for hot sauce. You can also add a side of fries for an extra $1.49 to any sandwich.