While the quest to find a falafel in Saratoga Springs used to be about as fruitful as the Dead Sea, residents and visitors now have to look no further than the new Falafel Den at 6 Phila Street. Previously occupied by the hot dog joint Alpha Dogs, as the snow started to fall, the curtain began to rise on this addition to Saratoga’s somewhat slim ethnic food market.
Co-owner Sabreen Sammah, a native of Jordan, started taking her family recipes for falafel, gyros, grape leaves, and more, out of her own kitchen and onto a menu. Sammah has lived in Saratoga since 1997, but originally opened a restaurant in Amsterdam, Alladin’s. Despite advertising efforts, Sammah says Amsterdam was not as open to new food as Saratoga has proven to be.
“They stick with what they know,” Sammah said.
Here in Saratoga, it seems, the crowd is much more open to trying new things and have excitedly embraced the new food spot. Sammah said that many customers come in with knowledge of her Mediterranean dishes, in part due to the large presence of Mediterranean cuisine in many Saratogians’ favorite escape spot – Manhattan.
However, the benefits of a good Mediterranean meal go much further than tasting good.
“It’s good for you so everybody welcomes it in their community”, said Sammah. Full of whole grains and vegetables, the Mediterranean diet leaves diners feeling fa-la-full, but not at the cost of their health.
In addition, all menu items are quickly prepared in front of customers, ensuring that the ingredients and preparation stay true to their roots.
“I grew up making these recipes,” said Sammah. “Everything on the menu is my favorite, from the secret falafel recipe to the hummus and pita.”
Although the location is small, what Falafel Den lacks in square footage, it makes up for by bringing much needed diversity to Saratoga’s food scene.