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Jewish Outlook: Moses Falafel Kosher Trailer to Open in January

2 January 2012 1,901 views 9 Comments

Austin’s first kosher food trailer — Moses Falafel — will be opening to the public this Sunday, Jan. 8 on the campus of the Dell Jewish Community Center off Far West Boulevard.

If you dig Israeli food, or are vegetarian or vegan, this is something that likely has you squealing for joy right about now! And to top it off, follow Moses Falafel on Facebook and print out a buy one, get one free coupon to use this Sunday.

Moses Falafel Austin

I haven’t tried the trailer yet, but I look forward to checking it out soon. However, I was interviewed for an article in this month’s Austin Jewish Outlook, so am sharing that here for those interested in more details.

Eat at Moe’s: Austin’s First Kosher and Israeli Falafel Trailer Launches in January

Sunday, 01 January 2012
By Tonyia Cone

Austinites with a hankering for Israeli falafel need look no further than the parking lot of the Dell Jewish Community Campus for a fix, thanks to Shmuel Haviv and his kosher, vegan food trailer, Moses Falafel.

When Haviv, a Nez Ziona, Israel native, moved to Austin seven months ago, he needed to find work. His father had owned a falafel restaurant in Gedera, Israel, in the 1990s and he wanted to try something similar.

“He had delicious food, Israeli recipe, what people here in Austin don’t have,” he said, explaining that the beans, spices and pitas used to make Israeli falafel differ from those used in Egyptian, Lebanese and Turkish falafel found elsewhere in the city.

Haviv chose to make the food at his trailer kosher and vegan – and will accept both cash and credit cards — so that almost anyone can enjoy his fare. He also decided to prepare his falafels via a trailer so he could serve crowds at various events.

Haviv, who worked as a technician for four years in the Israeli Air Force, bought a 30 year old trailer he found on San Antonio’s Craig’s List and spent the last two months outfitting it for its launch as the home of Moses Falafel.

Tiffany Harelik, author of the blog Trailer Food Diaries and “Trailer Food Diaries: Serving Up the American Dream One Plate at a Time,” explained that Austin’s first food trailer started when Jeff Blank of Hudson’s on the Bend developed the Mighty Cone for the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Blank turned the concept into a trailer around 2006. A few other key trailers popped up that year too: Flip Happy Crepes, Hey Cupcake and Torchy’s Tacos.

“We really saw a rise in the number of small business entrepreneurs trying their hand at opening their own kitchens on wheels in 2010,” Harelik said, “and now we have over 2,600 people with permits to operate a mobile food unit. Only about 200-300 of those are the ones you see decked out on the streets, and of those only five or six are truly mobile food trucks,” Harelik said.

Other cities around the country are also home to kosher food trailers, like Quick Stop Kosher and Taim Mobile in New York City, Takosher in Los Angeles, and Sixth & Rye in Washington, DC.

Jodi Bart, author of the local food blog Tasty Touring, said, “I think it’s great that there will soon be a kosher falafel trailer in Austin, both to cater to the kosher community, and to educate the non-Jewish majority about kosher food.”

“Recently, a handful of Austin’s early food trailers have transitioned into successful brick and mortar restaurants, showing that food trailers are more of a proving ground for food industry entrepreneurs than a passing trend. As long as the city of Austin’s regulatory environment stays favorable to food trailers doing business, they’ll be here to stay,” she said.

Haviv plans to serve pita with falafel – fried in canola oil — and fixings including hummus, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, tahini and skhug, an Israeli spicy chili pepper sauce.

He joked that he will use jalapenos in the skhug rather than the spicier red peppers that many Israelis prefer and will provide ketchup for Americans who prefer the condiment.

Each pita and falafel will cost $5.50. Half portions will be available for children for $3.50.

While Israelis usually do not have dessert after eating falafel, choosing instead to savor the spicy taste left in their mouths from the food, Haviv will also offer baklava to satiate the American sweet tooth.

Haviv explained that he named the business after his late grandfather and chose a cheery logo with two smiling falafel.

“Something fancier wouldn’t be the real falafel,” he said, noting that in Israel, falafel is a simple food that most can afford.

Initially, Moses Falafel will only be open on some weekday and Sunday afternoons on the Dell Jewish Community Campus. Haviv hopes to eventually add more time each week and a downtown and other locations.

Rabbi Eliezer Langer of Congregation Tiferet Israel, where Haviv is a member, will provide Moses Falafel’s kashrut supervision.

Langer said he finds it fascinating to see food prepared in such a tiny space and thinks it’s tremendous for the Jewish community to have a kosher food trailer available on the Dell Jewish Community Campus with the ability to travel around Austin to other venues and special events.

Haviv first came to the United States four years ago to travel. He started in Amarillo and eventually moved on to Abilene, where he met his fiancée.

The couple wanted to live in a city with a larger Jewish community and Haviv loved Austin, so they moved to Central Texas.

As an Israeli starting a business in the United States, Haviv has had a unique experience.

Preparing for a test required for one of his three food service licenses was challenging.

He translated a study guide into Hebrew, so instead of the two or three days it would take many native English speakers, it took him a month to complete the process.

Haviv also learned that finding suppliers is also very different in the United States than in Israel.

While in Israel he would have gotten pita from the baker across the street and his vegetables from a nearby stand – all kosher — things here are more spread out and complicated.

Harelik said that whenever new vendors ask her what they can do to make it, she tells them to have a unique and limited menu. Since this is Austin’s first kosher trailer, she believes the city will embrace it as another menu to try, regardless of belief systems.

“I think a kosher food trailer will work well in Austin not only with the Jewish community, but with the community as a whole. The typical Austin palette is diverse. For example, several omnivores will eat at vegan trailers because the food is good.”

For Harelik’s blog, visit trailerfooddiaries.blogspot.com.
Bart’s blog can be found at tastytouring.com.

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  • http://Marcos.Kirsch.com.mx Marcos

    Wow, a good Israeli falafel in Austin is awesome news! I’m looking forward to try it on my next visit. Sure, there’s Kebabalicious and others but it’s just not the same.

    In addition to good falafel balls, a great Israeli falafel stand should have at least two of these:

    1) Good Israeli pita, not the flat stuff you get at Phoenicia that everyone in town uses. It’s good, but it’s not Israeli.
    2) Good hummus. I was nauseous after eating Whole Foods hummus yesterday. I don’t know why but it seems like nobody can sell good hummus in the US.
    3) Amba! and schug (the really spicy kind)!

    Any plans on expanding to schwarma?

  • Marcos

    Wow, a good Israeli falafel in Austin is awesome news! I’m looking forward to try it on my next visit. Sure, there’s Kebabalicious and others but it’s just not the same.In addition to good falafel balls, a great Israeli falafel stand should have at least two of these:1) Good Israeli pita, not the flat stuff you get at Phoenicia that everyone in town uses. It’s good, but it’s not Israeli.
    2) Good hummus. I was nauseous after eating Whole Foods hummus yesterday. I don’t know why but it seems like nobody can sell good hummus in the US.
    3) Amba! and schug (the really spicy kind)!Any plans on expanding to schwarma?

  • jodibart

    I look forward to hearing your review when you come to town, Marcos! Also, have you ever had the hummus from Costco? It's pretty good. I agree that Whole Foods hummus isn't very good.

  • Marcos

    Wow, a good Israeli falafel in Austin is awesome news! I’m looking forward to try it on my next visit. Sure, there’s Kebabalicious and others but it’s just not the same.In addition to good falafel balls, a great Israeli falafel stand should have at least two of these:1) Good Israeli pita, not the flat stuff you get at Phoenicia that everyone in town uses. It’s good, but it’s not Israeli.
    2) Good hummus. I was nauseous after eating Whole Foods hummus yesterday. I don’t know why but it seems like nobody can sell good hummus in the US.
    3) Amba! and schug (the really spicy kind)!Any plans on expanding to schwarma?

  • jodibart

    I look forward to hearing your review when you come to town, Marcos! Also, have you ever had the hummus from Costco? It's pretty good. I agree that Whole Foods hummus isn't very good.

  • marcoskirsch

    Yeah, I vaguely remember Costco hummus being pretty good and sold in huge 1-liter containers! I haven't had it in many years since I don't have a Costco membership anymore. I wonder if it's the same in CA….

  • Paula

    Interesting!  You and Adam will have to take me and Lenny to Moses Falafel when we come into town again.

  • Paula

    Interesting!  You and Adam will have to take me and Lenny to Moses Falafel when we come into town again.

  • Paula

    Interesting!  You and Adam will have to take me and Lenny to Moses Falafel when we come into town again.