It is nearly impossible to miss the bright green and red sign on South Street’s sidewalk: Maoz Vegetarian. The wooden bench right outside its lime green doors is rarely empty, as patrons are always gathering and biting into their falafel sandwiches.
Situated on 248 South St., Maoz is slowly becoming the hippest eatery on the South Street scene. Opened in 1991 in Amsterdam, Maoz is a Dutch chain of Middle-Eastern restaurants created to introduce vegetarian food to the Dutch. Over the years, Maoz branched out of the Netherlands into Spain, France, and most recently, America. Philadelphia is the only city in the country to boast of this world-class eatery.
The menu is extremely limited at Maoz, as its only specialty is the falafel sandwich. However, add a side of Belgian fries and a cup of freshly squeezed juice, and you have a fantastic Maoz Express Meal. Customers are offered a choice between whole wheat and plain pita breads, which are then stuffed with fresh handmade falafel balls and humus. For a change of pace, you can request eggplant as well, which adds a delicious flavor. Voilà!-their job is done. Your sandwich is now ready for customization.
A salad bar displays Maoz’s four fresh sauces: spicy coriander, garlic, tomato with onions, and red chili. A dash of Tahini sesame paste makes the falafel balls even tastier when paired with a sauce. Next is the vegetable array, where you can choose from fresh onions, peppers, tomato and onion salad, yellow or red cabbage, fried cauliflower or eggplant.
A combination of the coriander sauce, tomato and onion salad and red cabbage is absolutely out of this world. You get to stuff your sandwich not just once, but as many times as you wish. I refilled my sandwich at least three times, and had no room to finish my fries.
Maoz’s fresh juices are great to compliment a sandwich. Pick from fresh orange, apple, lime or even carrot juice. Their orange juice is so popular that the restaurant almost always runs out of it. Though I was wary at first to give it a taste, the carrot juice was surprisingly worth it.
While Maoz gets five stars for its food and service, it lacks adequate space for customers to sit and eat. The four stools and two tables inside the eatery are not enough to accommodate its constant flow of patrons. It is annoying when you have to wait outside in the cold weather. Also, the restaurant only accepts cash, which is a hindrance to those of us who rely on credit or debit cards. Thankfully, South Street is dotted with ATMs.
Moaz ranks high in affordability and a Maoz meal (one falafel sandwich, a packet of Belgian fries and your choice of fresh juice) costs under $6. A falafel sandwich by itself is under $3. For a college student’s pocket, the budget is just right. It is relatively easy to get to Maoz, just hop on the subway, get off at Lombard-South Street and walk a few blocks.
Maoz is one of the few restaurants in Philadelphia which stays open until 2 a.m. (sometimes even on weeknights). Cheap prices, great food and open late-that’s enough to suffuse my appetite. Go give it a try!
Jinal Shah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org