I have been a regular customer of the Falafel Place since the late 1980s, when Ami operated out of a tiny storefront on Academy and cooked everything himself. My husband and I would stop in for breakfast after an early-morning run and chat with Ami while he manned the cooktop, the cash and managed the inevitable weekend lineups with his trademark good humour. Two location changes and almost three decades later, it's still the place we gather with our family and good friends - and my all-time favourite place for breakfast. It marries the personality and warmth of a slightly quirky neighbourhood diner with consistently delicious food at reasonable prices.
Local art and photographic images on the walls (including paper bag art by younger customers) add to the cozy neighbourhood feel.
The vegan heaven breakfast is my long-time fave: 8 crispy falafel with hummus and tahini, hash browns, choice of toast (I like the rye), vegetables (a mix of yams and sweet peppers; and I always say yes to the optional onions, garlic and hot pepper rings).
Friendly, efficient staff and quick service are hallmarks of the Falafel Place, as are hidden gems like the fresh orange or grapefruit juice, squeezed on the spot, and the house-made green hot sauce (available on request to those in the know).
Although they do a masterful job of standard North American breakfast fare like bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles, and French toast, what sets this place apart is its inclusiveness of diners with diverse dietary needs or preferences. Vegan and vegetarian selections are individually marked, as well as being grouped on the menu. Middle-Eastern options like baba ghanoush, tabouli, blintzes, knishes (including kasha/buckwheat), couscous, tahini, tabouli, hummus, pita and falafel are all vegan, as are four of the six soups and a number of breakfast and lunch platters.
The huge menu and large number of vegan options makes this place our go-to breakfast and lunch spot, as a family of a vegan and three omnivores with a growing number of vegetarian and gluten-intolerant friends.
My sole complaint is that the sheer number of customers makes for a noisy environment in peak hours. Sound-absorbing ceiling tiles might help take the background noise down a notch.
Cons: Weekend lineups, Lack of soundproofing (very noisy at peak hours)