Gallery: The Best Falafel Sandwich in the Loop

#1: I Dream of Falafel‎ (38/50 points)
#1: I Dream of Falafel‎ (38/50 points)

Falafel: 16 points. Well-seasoned with a wonderful chickpea flavor, though it was a little confusing why the workers deliberately smashed the falafel.

Pita: 7 points. The local chain uses laffa instead of pita. It's a very good carrying case, but not as puffy as some versions around town.

Toppings and Sauces: 8 points. Pickles lend acid, salad provides crunch, and everything else compliments the falafel.

Overall Satisfaction: 7 points. It's a little corporate inside, and it'd be great if the falafel wasn't smashed. Still, this is an excellent falafel to have in the Loop.

Total: 38/50 points.

I Dream of Falafel‎, 331 South Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60606 (map); 312-913-9660;‎

#2: Oasis Cafe‎ (34/50 points)
#2: Oasis Cafe‎ (34/50 points)

Falafel: 15 points. Great chickpea flavor with a hearty crunch. Could have used a little more seasoning.

Pita: 8 points. Warm, soft, and yet still sturdy, this was the best pita in the Loop.

Toppings and Sauces: 4 points. The only category where Oasis struggles, the toppings of shredded lettuce and tomato are frustratingly subpar.

Overall Satisfaction: 7 points. Even with the lackluster toppings, the whole sandwich comes together beautifully.

Total: 34/50 points.

Oasis Cafe‎, 21 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60602 (map); Wabash Jewelers Mall‎; 312-443-9534;‎

#3: Olive Mediterranean Grill‎ (33/50 points)
#3: Olive Mediterranean Grill‎ (33/50 points)

Falafel: 13 points. Crisp, well seasoned, with a shockingly bright interior. Still could have used more chickpea flavor.

Pita: 6 points. Fine, but could have been warmer.

Toppings and Sauces: 7 points. The potato added to the order is inspired, and the salad has a great crunch.

Overall Satisfaction: 7 points. Carefully constructed, each bite has a little bit of everything.

Total: 33/50 points.

Olive Mediterranean Grill‎, 201 N Clark St #1D, Chicago, IL 60601 (map); 312-726-1234

#4: Roti Mediterranean Grill‎ (32/50 points)
#4: Roti Mediterranean Grill‎ (32/50 points)

Falafel: 10 points. Crispy on the outside, oddly creamy and bland inside.

Pita: 7 points. A little dry, but sturdy and non obtrusive.

Toppings and Sauces: 8 points. Wish there were pickles, but the untraditional spicy sauce was completely addicting.

Overall Satisfaction: 7 points. Though there were no knockout ingredients (well, besides maybe the hot sauce), the sandwich comes together very nicely.

Total: 32/50 points.

Roti Mediterranean Grill‎, 310 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL 60606 (map); 312-236-3500;

#5: Tahini Mediterranean Cafe‎ (31/50 points)
#5: Tahini Mediterranean Cafe‎ (31/50 points)

Falafel: 14 points. Crispy, and absolutely packed with chickpea flavor, this was one of the best of the bunch. Also, it was nice that it wasn't smashed.

Pita: 7 points. Even though it's not split open, the pita is warm and soft.

Toppings and Sauces: 4 points. The only disappointment. Way too much lettuce, and could have used some pickles.

Overall Satisfaction: 6 points. Everything tasted great on its own, but I wish the sandwich would have come together as a whole better.

Total: 31/50 points.

Tahini Mediterranean Cafe‎, 60 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604 (map); 312-386-1300;‎

#6: Jaffa Bakery (30/50 points)
#6: Jaffa Bakery (30/50 points)

Falafel: 12 points. Great texture and chickpea flavor.

Pita: 6 points. A little dry, and not warm.

Toppings and Sauces: 6 points. Balanced and fresh tasting.

Overall Satisfaction: 6 points. The least stuffed of all the offerings, it was also balanced and easy to eat.

Total: 30/50 points.

Jaffa Bakery, 186 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60604 (map); 312-322-9007

#7: Benjyehuda (30/50 points)
#7: Benjyehuda (30/50 points)

Falafel: 12 points. Very crispy, with a decent chickpea flavor; unfortunately, a little under-seasoned.

Pita: 6 points. Held together well, but wasn't quite soft enough.

Toppings and Sauces: 6 points. Tons of choices, including some very good pickles, but somehow still missing balance.

Overall Satisfaction: 6 points. Uneven distribution meant that all the ingredients didn't quite all come together.

Total: 30/50 points.

Benjyehuda, 212 W Van Buren St, Chicago, Illinois 60607 (map); 312-408-2365;‎

#8: Pita Express (29/50 points)
#8: Pita Express (29/50 points)

Falafel: 11 points. Very well seasoned, though could have used more chickpea flavor. Unfortunately smashed.

Pita: 7 points. Surprisingly soft, but still sturdy.

Toppings and Sauces: 5 points. Way too much lettuce, and the sandwich needed some kind of acidity.

Overall Satisfaction: 6 points. Very decent sandwich considering its location in the back halls of the James R. Thompson Center.

Total: 29/50 points.

Pita Express‎, 100 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL 60601 (map); 312-422-0422;‎

#9: Haifa Cafe (26/50 points)
#9: Haifa Cafe (26/50 points)

Falafel: 11 points. Though lacking a little complexity, the falafel has a good amount of chickpea flavor and a nice crunch.

Pita: 5 points. A little dry, but not bad.

Toppings and Sauces: 5 points. Not a lot of topping choices, and the lettuce and salad was very wet.

Overall Satisfaction: 6 points. All said, it's a balanced sandwich that is easy to eat.

Total: 26/50 points.

Haifa Cafe‎, 19 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60606 (map); 312-214-1144

#10: Taza (25/50 points)
#10: Taza (25/50 points)

Falafel: 10 points. Well seasoned and definitely not dry, but the outside wasn't crisp.

Pita: 6 points. Another average and serviceable specimen.

Toppings and Sauces: 4 points. As you can see from the picture, the toppings were way too wet. They were also bland.

Overall Satisfaction: 5 points. Fine falafel for the Loop, but not worth a trek.

Total: 25/50 points.

Taza‎, 176 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60606 (map); 312-201-9885

#11: Med Kitchen (23/50 points)
#11: Med Kitchen (23/50 points)

Falafel: 8 points. Very spongy and seriously lacking flavor.

Pita: 5 points. The pita has decent flavor, but came out cool.

Toppings and Sauces: 6 points. Pretty good pickles, and the salad had good crunch.

Overall Satisfaction: 4 points. Since the topping are piled on the pita instead of inside of it, it's really hard to eat. Doesn't really work.

Total: 23/50 points.

Med Kitchen‎, 219 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60606 (map); 312-606-0633;‎

#12: Mezza Mediterranean Grill‎ (21/50 points)
#12: Mezza Mediterranean Grill‎ (21/50 points)

Falafel: 7 points. They looked beautiful, and the outside was crisp, but the inside was spongy and bland.

Pita: 5 points. Served on top of the pita instead of inside it, each bite was heavy and dense.

Toppings and Sauces: 5 points. Totally serviceable, but nothing great.

Overall Satisfaction: 4 points. Thanks to the heavy pita and spongy falafel, the total package is dry and bland. Also, not a very good value.

Total: 21/50 points.

Mezza Mediterranean Grill‎, 181 West Madison, Chicago, IL 60602 (map); 312-269-0095;

The Best Falafel Sandwich in the Loop