Dining

Zahav's Michael Solomonov Surprise-Opens Vegan Falafel Spot

There are tahini milkshakes, too
Solomonov Opens Falafel Joint Goldie
Photo: Michael Persico

Michael Solomonov, the chef who has pioneered the modern Israeli food movement in the U.S. with his hit restaurant, Zahav, surprise-opened a falafel joint called Goldie in Philly over the weekend and managed to sell out in four hours.  

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The restaurant's menu is pretty similar to what you would see at a falafel spot in Israel, but dressed up a bit—and everything's vegan. There's falafel, which can come in a fluffy pita or on top of a salad of baby kale, romaine, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, tehina, za'atar and lots of herbs. There are also fries that can come tossed with shawarma spices or za'atar, and tahini shakes that can be infused with bullet-strong Turkish coffee, chocolate or coconut. The project and hyper falafel-focused menu are inspired by a shop called Falafel Devorah in Northern Israel, Solomonov says. “The individual whose only job is to construct that super fresh, perfectly balanced falafel sandwich (heavy on the tehina) at Devorah is the true hero. We’ve always wanted to serve falafel in a place that could focus on just that. It would have been too obvious and distracting to open Zahav with falafel from the start.”

Those looking for something meatier can simply head downstairs for a patty melt or smoked matzo ball soup at Rooster Soup Co., which Solomonov and his business partner, Steve Cook, own as well.

Solomonov's been busy of late. The opening comes just after the release of his documentary, In Search of Israeli Cuisine. Meanwhile, he and Cook are working on expanding their hummus restaurant, Dizengoff, and beloved Federal Donuts beyond the city boundaries of Philly, so will Goldie follow? We can only hope.

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