Open since April 2014, Fala Bar Melrose is a delicious fast casual vegan falafel spot. Owner Mike Shab and his partner came up with this unique dining experience for a simple reason. “We saw there was a void in the fast casual vegan space. We wanted to create an experience where even those who are not vegan can enjoy our food without having to compromise on taste.”
Fala’s falafel hits that mark. It’s light, flavorful, and lacking in only one thing – grease. The falafel is made with grape seed oil and veggies sourced from local organic growers. In short, this is guilt-free and fun food, served just as quickly as fast food, yet with everything on the menu freshly prepared.
Of course all this healthy goodness would count for little if the food was bland, but that’s not the case here. There’s plenty of complex, creative flavor to go around.
“Our recipes are a mix of old family secrets combined with adding new elements to traditional favorites. Our perspective is that if the food we create is not going to wow our customers, it’s not going up on the menu,” Shab says.
The falafel comes in four varieties: original, sweet potato, spicy, or crunchy. It’s fortunate that Fala Bar allows diners to mix and match them in salads and sandwiches, because each of them makes a great pairing. The sweet potato is, naturally, the sweetest of them, made with sweet potato as well as chickpeas, cumin, and cilantro. The sweetness contrasts well with the various salad options the menu. Whether it’s the Fala Me to Kaleifornia with chickpeas, pickled purple cabbage, avocado, sprouts, quinoa, hummus and tahini or the Fala Me To Runyon, which comes with brussels sprouts and white cabbage, the sweet potato falafel offers an additional taste dimension.
Both the original and crunchy falafel are made using chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, onion, and the zing of jalapenos. The spicy version ups the quota of jalapenos and includes red peppers. Another option: kale falafel, which puts a nice cruciferous spin on falafel balls.
Hummus and tahini, which top most salads, have a creamy texture, and a nicely tangy bite.
But it’s not just about falafel and salad. Fala Bar offers a host of vegan burgers from Southwest style with a tasty bar-b-q sauce to kale.
“I think our vegan burgers are pretty unique,” Shab asserts. “We took our falafel ingredients and turned them into amazing burgers. I’m very big on sauces and condiments, so I made sure the burgers are incredibly flavorful. I wanted every item we serve to leave a long-lasting impression,” he laughs. “I wanted perfection in every bite.”
Meat-eaters who may shy away from veggie burgers won’t have to here: Fala’s burgers are nothing like the basic vegan patties found in grocery store frozen food cases. “With so many lackluster vegan burgers out there, we wanted to create something that everyone can enjoy, whether you’re into falafels or not,” Shab says. “In fact, our burgers are the most popular dish on our menu.”
Along with being flavorful, Fala Bar’s ingredients are for the most part gluten, nut, and dairy free. And all the ingredients are free of added chemicals, preservatives, and GMOs.
Besides burgers, salads, and sandwiches, Melrose Ave. strollers and shoppers can also choose from quick pick-me-up snacks, such as Gigi’s Snack Cup, a tasty offering of brussels sprouts, hummus, quinoa tabouli, Israeli salad, tahini, and of course, falafel; avocado toast made on fresh ciabatta bread; sweet potato fries; or a falafel à la carte snack of five falafels with hummus and tahini.
And whether grabbing food to go gallery hopping or shopping, or eating-in at this small, bright spot, Fala Bar offers one more healthful option worth noting. That would be healthy-for-the-earth biodegradable containers and cutlery.