Crisp on the outside, soft and savory within; there’s nothing like a good falafel pita sandwich, and luckily our region has a handful of restaurants that have practically perfected this Mediterranean delicacy. Our readers’ favorite? Aba’s Falafel in Rhinebeck, the farmer’s market darling-turned-East Market Street mainstay.
“Our falafel balls themselves are simple, yet fresh and tasty,” says co-proprietor Cathy Naor, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Roy. “We use organic chickpeas, without fillers, and with lots of fresh parsley, cilantro, and onion. We also fry the falafels to order so they are crunchy on the outside.”
Aba’s typically serves Israeli-style falafels in a pita with earthy tahini and fresh salads. And minus the pita, everything on the menu is naturally gluten-free, which secured the eatery a top Chronogrammie spot for gluten-free dining, as well. “We tweaked a basic recipe, making our falafels gluten-free and lighter, to our liking,” Naor explains. “Our food in general is simple—no more than five ingredients, most of the time—not too heavy, and healthy. Everything is prepared to order, so it’s very fresh. We’re not afraid of using spices and flavors, and a lot of thought was put into not just each ingredient, but how they all fit together. That said, we also offer spicy or tangy condiments alongside our falafels.”
In addition to the two top readers’ picks, Aba’s also received runner-up status for favorite Sandwich, Vegan, and Vegetarian dining. This dedicated fan base eagerly helped keep them afloat during the coronavirus shutdowns. With years of past experience hawking falafel at farmers’ markets, fairs, and festivals, Aba’s was able to make the quick switch to takeout-only during the beginning of the pandemic. “Since the start of the COVID-19 situation we had been offering takeout, plus we put up a Plexiglas wall so all of us behind the counter are not exposed, and of course, we wear masks and maintain the six-foot distancing, too,” she says. “As of Phase 2 we’re offering outdoor seating, also in line with social distancing guidelines—we’re excited for that.”