When it comes to restaurants, there are many food options in the UCF/East Orlando area, but Falafel Café is not like most. Falafel Café is a Lebanese restaurant located just off the UCF campus near the corner of University and Alafaya. Falafel Café has stood the test of time; it has been in business for over 10 years, initially as a take-out only restaurant, which has most recently converted into a full-service restaurant with spacious outdoor seating.
Their dining room is smaller than what you would expect but is welcoming with warm colors and dressed with landscape paintings of Lebanon. Their outdoor is located around the left corner of the building, which is not very visible since they are the last unit in the plaza.
I found it to be very interesting that the owner Aida Abouelhosn, coincidently shares a very similar background as me. Aida is a Lebanese-Brazilian as am I! What are the chances?
Falafel Café serves typical and authentic Lebanese dishes, such as Tabbouleh, Hummus, Shawarma, and my favorite Kafta Kebabs. Most meats and falafel are offered in “sandwhich” form, with lettuce, tomato and onions, rolled in Lebanese bread and toasted. Entrees are served with vegetable rice and Lebanese bread served in generous portions.
My dinner began with hummus and baba ghanoush served with Lebanese bread. Both the hummus and baba ghanoush tasted very fresh. The hummus had a smooth consistency and was served with a generous amount of olive oil which gives it a great fruity flavor while the baba ghanoush was creamy and had a very slight smoky flavor from the roasted eggplants, very good.
I also had the chance to try some Gyro meat, kofta and kibbeh. The gyro meat was not my favorite because I do not care for the consistency. My favorite was the beef kofta, which is basically ground beef mixed with parsley, onions and seasonings. They form it into a long hot-dog-shaped patty and then they grill it. The kofta was well seasoned, juicy and tender. As for the beef kibbeh, which was a close tie, is made from ground beef. The shell is comprised of ground beef mixed with bulgur wheat and then filled with cooked ground beef mixed with pine nuts. The kibbeh is then formed by hand into a shape of a football and then baked until golden brown(did you follow that?). Kibbeh comes in different varieties, it can be stuffed with a variety of items such as beef or yogurt, it can be made into patty shape, it can be fried or bake, or it can be baked into a large “meatloaf”. I prefer mine to be fried because everything taste better when it is fried. The kibbeh at Falafel Café was crispy on the outside, moist on the inside; delicious all around.
Falafel Café is an unique alternative to many restaurants in the UCF area serving authentic middle-eastern dishes. I had a great meal at Falafel Café and look forward to going back to try some of their other dishes.