Flying Falafel & Po-Boys
Try this UT-area eatery for an interesting balance between Mediterranean fare and New Orleans standards
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Oct. 2, 2009
Flying Falafel & Po-Boys2001 Guadalupe, 494-1400
Friday, 11am-10pm; Saturday, noon-10pm; Sunday, noon-7pm
To paraphrase the legendary Gertrude Stein: A good cook is a good cook is a good cook. Regardless of a person's native cuisine, someone with well-honed skills and an educated palate can add new ethnic or regional dishes to his or her repertoire with relative ease. Nuha Haddad mastered the dishes of her native Jordan and the surrounding Mediterranean and then added dishes from her adopted home in New Orleans plus a kickass version of Southern fried chicken to her culinary arsenal before her family relocated to Austin. All this cooking expertise is available daily in the cozy University of Texas campus-area eatery where the Haddad family matriarch, daughter Nancy, and son Shadi dispense genuine hospitality and mighty good food.
We originally heard about Flying Falafel from a reader last spring and hurried in for an excellent roast beef po'boy ($5.99), drenched in savory debris gravy, and a luxurious serving of the Thursday special, a Jordanian dish called menssef – fluffy rice and crunchy toasted pine nuts topped with tender chicken ($9.99) or succulent lamb ($11.99) in a tangy yogurt cream sauce – a hearty, soul-satisfying dish if ever there was one. The menu is an interesting balance between Mediterranean fare and New Orleans standards. For example, you'll find both lentil soup ($4.99) and seafood gumbo ($9.99) on the menu. Monday's hot lunch special is red beans and rice with smoked sausage and corn bread ($7.99), and the Tuesday special is Shadi's favorite, bamya ($9.99), baby okra and boneless chicken in a garlic tomato sauce over rice. After contributor Claudia Alarcón raved about another secret weapon, the Wednesday fried chicken special ($9.99), I picked up an order of chicken to go. The aroma alone was so seductive that I had to park and eat a drumstick before driving home. Hot and juicy with a spicy cayenne kick, the chicken pieces are encased in a perfect mahogany crust. The serving includes sausage jambalaya and a creamy scoop of potato salad. We're lucky this good cook lives here now.