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HaKosem: Magical Falafel

When I moved to Tel Aviv 5 years ago, I had no idea that I was going to live a minute away from HaKosem (The Magician) Falafel, the best falafel in town. I’m not the only one who thinks so—the long lunch queues and countless newspaper articles agree. Sometimes I even crave it while I’m abroad.

HaKosem is not your average Joe-Shlomo falafel stand. It’s super clean, colorful, and fun while still being authentic, Tel Aviv style. There’s always bright music on and an energetic flow of people coming in for tasty treats.

The staff here—consisting mostly of Arab Israelis—is fantastic. Everyone who walks in is greeted with a complimentary falafel “chill pill” that often comes with a “be careful, it’s tasty!” warning. The magician himself—Arik Rosenthal—is usually around helping in the kitchen or talking to customers. If you’ll get to meet him you’ll understand why his business is doing so well.

As for the falafel itself: the pitas are soft thanks to a specially developed oven and the salads are fresh. The handmade falafel balls are perfect: crunchy on the outside and tasteful on the inside with a good balance of flavors. Surprisingly, they don’t serve French fries, but they do fry delicious and soft eggplants—let the other falafel stands keep their soggy fries.

Other staple Israeli dishes are also available: shawarma, hummus, shakshuka, sabich, salad, schnitzel, and veggie omelette. To quench your thirst, try the pomegranate-lemonade, the tamarhindi juice, or go for the alcoholic Arakomplet (Arak + cold juice).

HaKosem lies at the corner of King George and Shlomo Hamelech—just look for the long queue during lunch time. It’s also a nice place for dinner when the temperature goes down and the colorful light bulbs spark up. Go for a coffee or buy some records right around the corner.