If you know what “Halal” food is, or you know what a falafel is, then you know why I chose to review Layla’s Falafel this week. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about then you need to head over to Layla’s Falafel located on 2088 Black Rock Turnpike, which is next to Garden Catering.

Layla’s can best be described as a takeout place, since they spend no time trying to gussy up the place, and they have minimal seating for those trying to eat-in.

Layla’s Falafel presents authentic Middle Eastern dishes such as kebobs, the vegetarian falafel, shawerma and the savory dessert baklava. Middle Eastern food is generally characterized by grilled meats, light salads, hummus and spicy sauces. I decided upon ordering the Chicken Shawerma platter as well as the Baklava.

My Chicken Shawerma platter consisted of grilled chicken over rice and lentils, pita bread, white sauce and hummus, and a small salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. The chicken was a bit dry and I did not receive as much as I thought I would get for ordering a platter.

The lentils and rice however complimented the chicken well, and when I tossed the chicken, rice and salad into a pita and covered it with the white sauce, it was easy to look past that small fact and I was able to enjoy the meal.

The baklava that I sampled, was just as good as any baklava I have ever had. It had a nice flakey exterior, and a rich center of chopped nuts sweetened with a little syrup.

Perhaps my taste buds have been spoiled by too many visits to the infamous and ubiquitous Halal trucks that cover Manhattan. The food at those trucks both seemed fresher, tastier and had a better value (in the city you can get a chicken platter for $7 compared to Layla’s $13).

Also I was disappointed by the lack of the spicy “red sauce” at Layla’s that I usually put on my Halal from the trucks, which my friends and I agree is an essential part of the experience.

Overall, my impression of Layla’s was that it was decent. While it clearly can’t compete with the food trucks in the city, Layla’s does offer a nice break to the constant routine of pizza, Chinese and the neighboring Garden Catering.

To those of you that eat out frequently or are looking for something new, then I’d recommend going here and trying some Middle Eastern food. For those of you that are  looking for some great Middle Eastern, then I suggest on your next stop into Manhattan you go by everyone’s favorite Halal cart on the corner of 53rd and 6th.

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