King Falafel | Sebastopol

Mediterranean and Greek street food are stars at this Middle Eastern lunch spot

Once you’ve had a perfect falafel, it becomes a lifelong quest to find another.

We’ve found a pretty solid contender in the Deluxe Falafel Sandwich ($6.99) at Sebastopol’s King Falafel. Balls of ground chickpeas and spices get a swim in the fryer, then stuffed into a roll of lavash with pickles, hummus, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, pickles (yes!), tahini and shatta (a kind of Middle Eastern hot sauce).

Recently opened near the busy intersection of Sebastopol and Petaluma Avenues, it channels the ubiquitous mom-and-pop falafel shops that dot cities like New York and Philadelphia. Greek music blasts away on the boom box, the ambiance is dollar store chic and piles of pita bread sit for sale by the counter. Nothin’ fancy, just a simple mash-up of Greek and Middle Eastern street foods including Falafel, Kabob, Lebni, Gyro, Lahmeh and Tabouili.

If the menu’s all Greek to you, the ingredients won’t be — garlic, beef, lamb, lemon, parsley, mint, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onions and plenty of oregano.

More familiar may be the Gyro ($7.99), with slices of pressed lamb, tomatoes and tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce). This is comfort food with ancient roots — even if the “meat cone” it comes from isn’t. You can also get a Kefta Kabob (seasoned ground beef pressed into balls) Sandwich ($6.99) or vegetarian-friendly eats like the  Lebni Sandwich ($5.99), a soft-cheese with cucumber, mint and spices.

Fried cheese in any language is music to the ears. But when its made with bits of chewy, salty Greek Halloumi wrapped in lavash with tomato and Zattar spices, a Big Fat Greek Disco Party of a meal. ($6.99)

Combination plates are heartier ($7.99, $8.99), with sticks of chicken and beef kabobs served with hummus, tabouli (a salad of bulgur wheat, mint, tomato, cucumber, lemon and parsley) and pita.

The true test of a Greek’s cooking prowess: Baklava. Not to sweet, not too soggy. Here’s its buttery, flaky and just sweet enough to be dangerous.

Grab some fresh pita to take home, sold at the front counter. And don’t forget a mint or two, because even though you may love a falafel or two, your office mates may not be so appreciative.

King Falafel: 100 Brown St., Ste 150, Sebastopol, 824-4800. Also in Cotati 548 E Cotati Ave/. Cotati, 664-8200.