Just outside my apartment, on the corner where the rue des Rosiers meets the rue des Ecouffes in the Marais, an age-old contest endures. The prize is highly coveted – the title of best falafel joint in Paris.
Each day, the two competitors represent in proper fashion. On one side of the ring, or in this case, cobblestone street, there is L’As du Falafel. Clearly the more popular of the two, L’As is a Jewish Quarter establishment with the endorsement of nearly every travel guide, restaurant critic, food blog and, yes, Lenny Kravitz, whose mark of approval is heavily advertised.
But directly across the street is a competing falafel joint, the underdog, you might call it. Mi-Va-Mi opened its doors in 1998, and it has competed with L’As du Falafel since day one. M-V-M has its own loyal following in the blogosphere, but it has gone largely unnoticed by the mass of tourists who descend on the rue des Rosiers every day.
A taste test was in order; I had to settle the dispute once and for all.
At each place, I ordered the falafel special, with everything. Both pitas were heaped with small balls of falafel, hummus, cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, grilled eggplant, tahini and a number of mystery sauces. They were messy, awkward to eat, and delicious.
The Mi-Va-Mi version had a little something extra, though, a flavor I couldn’t quite place. It was tangy, a little tart and the perfect complement to the succulent morsels of ground chickpea. The famous L’As falafel, while quite good, became soggy within a millisecond.
The verdict? Bypass the insane lines at L’As du Falafel and give Mi-Va-Mi a try. Or, follow the signs posted outside M-V-M and “taste and compare.”
L’As du Falafel
34, rue des Rosiers
tel 01 48 87 63 60
27, rue des Ecouffes
tel 01 42 71 53 72