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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Number 4: Falafel From Sunrise Deli

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2012 at 1:30 PM

A falafel platter from Sunrise Deli. - IANN IVY
  • Iann Ivy
  • A falafel platter from Sunrise Deli.

SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


An awful lot of restaurants like to make "Best [blank] in San Francisco" claims. The list of self-proclaimed "best burgers" is so long at least 21 of the places advertising them must be lying. (If it weren't for independent evaluation authorities such as SF Weekly, who could you believe?) But when Sunrise Deli proclaims itself -- on its sign, its website, and its new food truck -- "Best Falafel in Town," the restaurant is actually telling the truth.

When you enter the deli's 28-year-old original location in the Outer Sunset, chances are good that one of the cooks will be standing over the fryer, shaping scoops of ground chickpeas into precise disks to drop into the oil. The fryer rarely seems to see any downtime, because there's a constant stream of people coming in to the cafe to buy the chickpea fritters by the dozen. Hot -- which they often are -- the falafel have a lacy, grainy exterior that seems to collapse as it crackles. The jade-hued insides stay soft and moist, not saturated with oil, the flavor inflected with cumin and parsley.

You can buy falafel-stuffed pita sandwiches at Sunrise, but they're better by the platter, where you can swipe the fritters through a pool of the deli's lemony, herb-flecked tahini sauce. And if you pick up a few dozen falafel to take home, remember to calculate your finders' fee appropriately. Pluck one out of the bag to eat on the way out the door, and you may soon find you've hit the 25 percent mark before you're a couple of blocks on your way.

Sunrise Deli: 2215 Irving (at 23rd Ave.), 664-8210; 54 Second St. (at Market), 495-9999; 2456 Bancroft, Berkeley, (510) 845-9400; 89 Belden Place, 362-2805.

Other favorites in this series:

5. Smitten's chocolate ice cream
6. Josey Baker's black pepper-parmesan loaf
7. Hakka Restaurant's stuffed tofu
8: Al pastor burrito from Taqueria La Alteña
9: Pizza focaccia from Liguria Bakery
10: Boxing Room's dirty rice
11: Wing Wingschicken salad biscuit
12: Pamonha de sal from Pamonha's
13: Kasa Indian Truck's gobi aloo kati roll
14: Delfina's trippa alla fiorentina
15: Truffled tater tots from Leatherneck Steakhouse
16: Baia Pasta's durum-wheat pastas
17: Z&Y's flaming fish with chile oil
18: Auntie April's fried catfish
19: None but the Brave from Heaven's Dog
20: Saha's vegan kibbeh
21: Starter Bakery's hazelnut kouign amann
22: Pupusas at Cafe and Restaurant Montecristo
23: 2 a.m. apple fritter at Bob's
24: Le Sanctuaire's vadouvan
25: Crab louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack
26: Soy sauce chicken from Happy Bakery & Deli
27: Locanda's Jewish-style artichoke
28: Local: Mission Eatery's asparagus-egg sandwich
29: Memphis Minnie's 18-hour brisket
30: Custard buns from City View
31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami
32: Panisse frites from Frances
33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi
34: Fatted Calf's chorizo
35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas
36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager
37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company
38: Broken Record's crawfish grits
39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 
40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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