Mon-Thu, 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-midnight; Sun, 11am-10pm
4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
13th St. to 20th St., Third Ave. to Fifth Ave.
Rainbow's long-standing monopoly on Union Square falafel has been challenged with Maoz Vegetarian, the first New York outpost of a chain that launched in Amsterdam in 1991. Maoz’s cheery green-and-white façade is already a beacon for Euro expats familiar with the signature salad bar, a spotless stainless-steel roughage trough where customers can take their garnishes into their own hands. The falafel balls are mini-muffin-shaped, with a crispy exterior and fresh, nutty flavor, and the salads vary between humdrum winter tomatoes and pitted olives to pink pickled baby eggplants, herb-dappled couscous, and soft roasted cauliflower. Maoz gets points for offering a choice of pitas (white or whole wheat), sizes (the five-falafel regular and three-falafel Junior), and meal deals that come with Belgian-style fries and a soda. And being able to customize one’s own falafel is a major improvement over the alternative — a pita packed with too heavy a hand on the tahini sauce.