Classic Tables: Falafel Arax

29 years of fried excellence on Santa Monica Boulevard

The countless pucks of chickpeas and fava beans that have been fried at Falafel Arax since 1982 have led to a kind of falafel perfection: The coriander-scented fritters served here are some of the best we've ever tried.

The surface of the oblong spheres is so crisp that it splinters apart, giving way to a light, moist interior. The contrast in texture is so marked that you might mistakenly think an additional layer of breading surrounds the falafel. The levity achieved by Arax should be the envy of leaden falafel everywhere.

You can have your falafel wrapped in pita ($4.50) or served nude alongside forgettable lettuce and tomatoes drenched in tahini ($6.50). We once overheard a well-dressed Armenian diner say the sauce needed more garlic and lemon–a claim the counterman rightfully protested. The nutty sauce has a brazen, almost aggressive acid kick and the burn of raw alliums; we lash it liberally over our falafel, adding the occasional red-orange dot of chile heat courtesy of the Sriracha sitting on each of the three Formica tables.

The rooster sauce is an inauthentic touch but, like the strip-mall location and generic sandwich-shop décor, it makes Arax feel like part of its Los Angeles home.

Falafel Arax, 5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; 323-663-9687