Falafel Fracas: Haji-Baba vs. Al-Hana at Baiz Market

Heather Hoch
An old favorite -- but which is the best falafel sandwich?
Anyone who's had a foray into vegetarianism or traveled around Europe on a budget has made fast friends with the falafel sandwich. It's cheap, filling, and easy to eat on the go, with a pita outside to hold the lightly fried chickpea goodness on the inside.

Other famous falafel companions include tahini, tzatziki, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and parsley, but the innards rely heavily on who's assembling the sandwich. A good falafel ball is crispy on the outside, but still moist and smushy on the inside and with generous seasoning. This week, we're pitting two of our favorite falafel joints against each other to see who serves the best sandwich.

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Heather Hoch
Haji-Baba's thick pita and tahini-soaked falafel, with a side of tzatziki.
In This Corner: Haji-Baba

The Setup: Don't let appearances fool you. The goofy sand dune and rubble mural that seems to have been painted in the era that its set, along with the plain Jane tables and chairs, make Haji-Baba appear as though it doesn't have a lot to offer. But the freshly prepared gyros and flavorful foul moudammas prove otherwise.

The Good: Following the tradition of falafel sandwiches, Haji Baba serves its cheap (under $4) and quick. If you know to ask for it on handmade pita, you'll have a better wrap. The simple sandwich is also larger and more filling than most others we've had.

The Bad: The falafel is a little on the dry side compared to others in town. Plus the wrapping techniques leaves something to be desired -- along with a puddle of tahini on your lap.

Location Info

Haji Baba Middle Eastern Food

1513 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Al-Hana Restaurant at Baiz Market

523 N. 20th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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Alicia Geier
Alicia Geier

I agree!! Fresh always tastes best. Haji-Babas saturation with tahini is just cloaking the lack of real flavors & frankly the pita is suppose to be thinner. Al-Hana's is as close to authentic.

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