The Best in Tiberias: Falafel Orit
“Down the street there’s this lady who makes the best falafel in town” we were told by the local hostel owner. He was American, had been living in Tiberias for a few years and didn’t hesitate when I asked him where to eat. In a country where falafel favorites are hotly contended, he didn’t look around to see if anyone would argue, and no one did. On this day in the small town of Tiberias my friends and I really only had two goals. Primarily, we were there to see the Sea of Galilee, of which Tiberias has a great view. Catching a bus from Nazareth, it’s a simple day trip and one worth taking if historical sites are of interest. Secondly, I was in Tiberias to find some great local food. The best falafel available, if possible. Luckily, I succeeded in my goal. Here you’ll find the The Best in Tiberias: Falafel Orit.
After making a wrong turn but continuing our search, my friends and I found what we were looking for. The woman inside gave us a quick smile. It wasn’t the big smile of an owner dying for some business, though. It was a greeting quickly replaced by a confident, let’s-get-down-to-business nod. She’s never seen us before but seemed to know someone sent us to her shop.
Frames adorn one wall, displaying photos of the owner with big Iraeli names, including one standout with her making falafel for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I wasn’t as familiar with the other people in the photos but they appeared to be famous based on her smiles.
Time for Falafel Orit!
I quickly realized this was the longest array of falafel toppings I’ve come across in Israel. In a tiny town, this small shop gets its fair share of business.
I asked for onions, cabbage, mixed tomato and cucumber, eggplant, tahini and the spicy chili oil. There was also a yellow sweet and tart sauce we were told to add. I later learned it is a sauce called amba and it’s made with mango, vinegar and lots of spices and seasonings. With the amba, everything came together for a wonderful sandwich.
I found myself going back to talk to her after a few bites. I told her how much I enjoyed it and asked her about her ingredients. She walked me through the difference of the smaller balls of hummus they do in Tiberias, consistent with Nazareth and Haifa, but different from the larger ones I enjoyed back in Tel Aviv.
She confirmed that yes, she had met many local famous celebrities and politicians. When asked she also told me she has been doing this for something like 40 years. Just as restauranteurs Bracha and Wisam have done for decades in their parts of Israel, making local favorite dishes in this country seems to be a lifelong art of perfection.
I still remain blown away by this concept and their level of commitment.
People were constantly coming and going while we were there during the off-hours after lunch, and later when I walk by before dinner began. As I walked by the second time, just before leaving Tiberias to head back to Nazareth, she looked over and gave me a bigger smile this time. I told her thank you again and that I enjoyed her falafel very much. She seemed pleased and wished me safe travels.
It seems possible she’ll make a million or more of these sandwiches in her life. Maybe she already has, I have no idea. I will say, however, that anyone who visits Tiberias should stop by, say hello and give one of her famous falafel sandwiches a try.
Location of Falafel Orit
$4 Falafel pita
I hope you enjoy The Best in Tiberias: Falafel Orit as much as I did!
La Chaim! (Cheers in Hebrew)
Do you know anyone who’s been making their specialty for 40 years or more? Please comment below!
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