For Princeton area falafel lovers, the long-awaited opening of Mamoun’s Falafel is finally over.
The Princeton branch of the popular Greenwich Village shop opened this afternoon at 20 Witherspoon Street. Curious passersby peeked inside and lined up to order hummus, tabbouleh, shawarma, falafel and other Middle Eastern dishes. By 6 p.m. the restaurant was full.
Mamoun Chater, the founder of the falafel empire, greeted customers and smiled as he watched the steady stream of orders pour in.
“We are very happy to open finally,” Chater said as his sons took orders.
For almost two years the family that owns Mamoun’s has been working on opening its Princeton store.
Chater, originally from Syria, founded his flagship falafel shop on MacDougal Street in New York City in 1971. The shop is consistently rated as one of the top 100 restaurants in New York City and long lines to get in are commonplace. The family opened a Hoboken branch in 2011 and a New Brunswick shop in 2012. The Princeton store, located in the former Princeton Mattress shop, is the third Mamoun’s location in New Jersey.
The Mamoun’s menu in Princeton includes a wide range of Middle Eastern favorites like chicken kebob, grape leaves, and baba ganouj, as well as platters and desserts like baklava, namoura and knafe, a shredded fillo dough layered with pistachios and topped with honey.
Prices at Mamoun’s are a bargain by Princeton standards, ranging from $4.50 for a vegetarian sandwich to $6.75 for a sandwich with meat. A vegetarian platter served over salad or rice with pita bread and three items is $8. A meat platter with pita served over salad or rice with three vegetarian sides is $12.
A family of 6 seated next to Planet Princeton gave the restaurant six thumbs up. “Where else can a family of six eat a healthy dinner in Princeton for under $70?” asked the mother.
Unlike the cramped New York City shop, the Princeton restaurant is spacious and includes plenty of seating. The atmosphere is still casual though.
Mamoun’s also offers catering service, including vegetarian platters, combination party platters, and make-your-own-sandwich stations.
The Princeton restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. until midnight starting next week. This week the restaurant will close around 10 p.m. each night.