When I order Pad Thai, I get particular. No chicken or shrimp, sub veggies and tofu, no bean sprouts, and as many crushed nuts as legally possible. I’m so full of substitutions it barely resembles the thing on the menu, and I feel like a high maintenance schmuck. Amsterdam Falafelshop, however, totally caters to my prissy, picky, highly customized ass and I thank them for that.
With my wallet. Like, every day for the last week.
After opening in early July in Davis Square, Amsterdam Falafelshop has boasted a line out the door every lunch rush and all weekend, so it’s not just me that’s crazy for the place. Matt D’Alessio is the owner, and says the daytime traffic does not compare to the more relaxed sister store in D.C. Both stores are modeled after the self-serve falafel shops that are ubiquitous in Amsterdam, much like the sub shops on every American street corner.
The menu is simple. Small or large? White or wheat pita? Or, for the carb conscious and gluten-free folks, you can get your deep fried treats in a salad bowl. Add fries if you want.
The condiment bar is where it gets serious. Self-serve standards are first: tahini, hummus, baba ganoush, tomatoes, cukes, etc. And by et cetera, I mean there are over 20 toppings to choose from.
It is recommended by the staff that you smash your balls flat to fit everything you like in there.
Feel free to giggle. They’re playing reggae.
Amsterdam Falafelshop also tips a hat to their hazy city namesake—“Falafelshop” is one word, playing on the one-worded coffeeshops of Amsterdam, the kind that sell space pies and moon cakes. Sit at the right table in their Davis location, and there might be some pot leafs smiling at you while you lunch. But Mary Jane décor aside, Amsterdam Falafelshop only provides “virgin” brownies to complement your meal. Which are pretty friggen’ tasty, even without the green stuff.
When looking for a place to set up shop, D’Alessio liked the Davis Square location because it stood out as a neighborhood completely devoid of falafel. “We didn’t want to be ‘that company’ that comes in from out of town and sets up business next to a preexisting falafel shop,” he says. Although he feels that his restaurant would do well, even with competition next door, it seemed impolite.
“I love being in Davis Square,” D’Alessio makes sure to mention. “The local businesses have been very friendly. Diesel Café, Redbones, The Burren, and Diva all helped us determine our hours of operation, and the nuances of foot traffic in the square by talking with us.”
I can attest that much of the crew opening Amsterdam likes to be on the customer side of the counter and make friends with the neighbors.
I still haven’t figured out my regular order, but it involves a lot of hummus, tahini, cucumbers with dill, and peanut “saus.” D’Alessio is the expert, as he was eating at Amsterdam Falafelshop eight years ago, while studying engineering in D.C. He likes his regular white falafel with hummus, red cabbage, deep fried eggplant, torrator (parsley garlic spread), jalapeño, cilantro, and some crazy looking hot pink pickled turnips.
With the original owner’s photographs of Amsterdam plastering the tables, and a fantastical Euro-inspired mural by D.C. artist Byron Peck on the wall, Amsterdam Falafelshop is trying to evoke a hip, diverse city that celebrates all walks of life—especially hungry, sometimes stoned college aged folks.
Sounds like you found yourself a home here, guys.
248 ELM ST.
OPEN SUN-MON 11AM-MIDNIGHT