Halal things considered
Falafel Corner3620 N Freeway Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95834
Housed in the old Dad’s Sandwiches spot at 10th and J streets, Falafel Corner, open since late spring, seems not so into dress-up as its eldest sister in Natomas, or even some of its other four siblings throughout the Sacramento area.
But the old-school, no-frills vibe gives it a confident air, reminiscent of longtime downtown Sacramento staples—Bud’s Buffet and the like—saving focus for the food. The digital flatscreen menu is its only real giveaway of modernity.
The back-to-basics attitude carries through to the menu, a relatively simple list of offerings to be expected from a quick-service Mediterranean restaurant, and pared down from its other locations. Platters and wraps dominate, with burgers and fries following as a close second. Appetizers, at $4.99 each, include the eponymous falafel; vegetarian rice and spice-filled dolmas (stuffed grape leaves); and the bizarrely third-wheel quesadilla ($3.49), which can include chicken or gyro meat in addition to its mozzarella innards.
A relatively unassuming mix of lettuce, tomato and cucumber, fraternizing with brazen raw onion, kalamata olives, banana peppers and feta—otherwise known as Greek salad ($5.99)—is available as a standalone item, with a slightly edited version (sans olives and cheese) found on platters and inside wraps.
The Combo Platter ($12.49) is the easiest way to sample the menu’s many elements: Chunks of chicken and gyros sit atop colorful rice, drizzled generously with tzatziki, along with salad, hummus and pita. The platter’s contents are substantial (bring your Tupperware from home!), easily serving two or more.
Both the chicken and gyro were moist and tender, and the long, thin basmati rice beneath was a textural delight and a worthy conveyance for ensuring tzatziki with each bite. The tzatziki at Falafel Corner is unique, and feels more akin to an herbed cream sauce than a lighter, cucumber-forward yogurt sauce—delicious, but quite dense. The hummus was thick, smooth and easily disappeared, though I missed the nutty, slightly bitter quality from tahini that was undetectable. Soft clouds of pita, doughy in some places and toasted crispy in others, made the vanishing act that much simpler. The bread and its imperfections were a welcome retreat from store-bought. I can still recall the cozy, fresh-baked feeling of powdery, granular surface.
And what of the company namesake? A perfectly made falafel should be crisp on the outside, soft on the inside—crumbly, but not too much, and pack the right amount of flavor to stand alone, with nary a sauce as reprieve. Falafel Corner’s: A tad too salty, but all boxes were checked.
The Bacon Cheddar Burger ($7.99) is not to be overlooked as a less traditional menu item. An all-beef patty, melted cheese, lettuce, pickles, onions, tomato and Thousand Island dressing all work together so seamlessly it becomes difficult for one to identify individual players. Rest assured, it’s mouthwatering. But the real MVP: Beef bacon. At once salty, sweet, smoky and tangy, this single topping does wonders for an already solid burger, elevating it to an unforgettable status and serving 100 barbecue realness at every level. It’s a brilliant halal solution to a burger menu mainstay. Ten out of 10, would beef bacon—and Falafel Corner—again.