In recent years, Westchester has seen a spike in Middle Eastern restaurants and Mexico taco joints. Dynamic husband-wife duo Jonathan Langsam and Rosie Hernandez have taken the popularity of both to a whole new level with the opening of Falafel Taco, a fast-casual “Mex-Raeli” restaurant (that’s Mexico and Israel, in case you weren’t sure) that opened in Pleasantville in April.
“When one of our girls became vegan, I wanted to figure out things for her to eat that I could make at home for her,” explains Langsam, a chef, who was making falafel and bread in his home kitchen. At the same time, he was entertaining ideas for a new restaurant. “We started to think about what our concept would be. Should it be just falafel? [Should it be a] taqueria?” It was during that thought process that one of their three daughters, Andrea, gave them the idea to combine Israeli food with Mexican food and create something out of the ordinary.
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“We started cooking at home, and we always invited ourneighbors to try our food,” says Hernandez. “Whenever we have a celebration, I always bring my guacamole. It’s become tradition that when I come over, I have to bring the guacamole.”
That had to make the menu, says Langsam. “We make a Mex-Raeli take on the recipe, which is avocado hummus. It’s really guacamole, but mixed with this Israeli condiment called zhug [an herb hot sauce] that originated in Yemen.”
Langsam, a third-generation Jewish-American, puts his own spin on family classics. “My grandmother would always make brisket. I’ve embellished her recipe a little bit and I call it Ma Betts, because her name was Betty.”
Also on the menu: an interesting spin on a classic chicken-mole burrito, a blend of about twenty-five different ingredients, wrapped in laffa bread instead of a tortilla. Another unique dish is the chicken-schnitzel taco, made with thin chicken cutlet, French fries, Israeli salad, hummus, and tahini sauce. Falafel can be made with classic chickpeas or out of black beans. Bowls start with a base of brown rice, Israeli couscous, or quinoa. And a Mexikale salad blends kale, queso fresco, black beans, and couscous.
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Of course, Falafel Taco makes sure to have plenty of vegan options and an atmosphere that’s family-friendly. “We had customers come in and say their families make Mexican food, but they’re Israeli,” shares Hernandez, nothing that mixing cultural flavors is something many people relate to. “It’s a combination of cultures, and I love it.”
30 Wheeler Ave
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