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The mezza bar at Oak Park's Falafill

Falafill's Mezza Bar



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Oak Park, Chicago’s quaint bordering village to the west, just got a little more vegan friendly with the opening of Falafill at 1053 Lake Street in downtown Oak Park. Oak Park is already doing pretty well with Munch, Penny’s Noodles, and Flat Top offering lots of dishes for herbivores but Falafill is still a welcome addition. With locations in Lakeview, the Loop and now the leafy suburb where Frank Lloyd Wright built his original home and studio, Falafill fills a need for convenient but healthful and flavorful food. With a Middle Eastern focus, Falafill offers freshly made falafel in Classic, Curry and Seasonal flavors but what I am most impressed with is their Mezza Bar. Falafel tends to settle in my gut like a deep-fried chickpea hockey puck so on my visit to their new location, I just focused on the salads and dips.

The space is clean, open and light-filled with lots of seating. For just $6.95 plus tax, you are handed a good-sized compostable container and you can get whatever you like from the Mezza Bar. With all items except the cucumber yogurt being vegan, this option is a great value for anyone who has ever gotten their Whole Foods hot bar container rung up and did a double-take at the cost. Here, you get pita bread and can load up on healthful foods that are a great bang for the buck and freshly prepared, not sitting on warmers for hours.

I filled my bowl with a little of nearly everything: baba ghanoush, hummus, crispy cauliflower, cabbage and mint salad, roasted beets, black beans and corn, pickled turnips and assorted pickles with harissa chile sauce. There were also other items that I didn’t try because of my wheat intolerance: bulgur wheat with pomegranate, couscous with chickpeas and fresh herbs and tabbouleh. The baba ghanoush at Sultan’s Market has spoiled me for life so Falafill’s didn’t make much of an impression upon me, but I loved the fresh, bright flavors of everything else, and the bar is great for those who love to mash up their food together. The pickles with perfect, and I especially enjoyed the refreshing, crisp cabbage and mint salad as well as the elegant roasted beets. The whole meal was a delight, full of spice and flavor.

I recommend Falafill whether or not you partake of their signature dish. With its convenience, affordability and commitment to quality, fresh vegan food, I think Falafill is easily going to be on my frequent dining list.