After World War II, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe flooded America. From then on, Jewish cuisine spread across the States. New York City became known for bagels, the best kind of bread roll there is. Tourists pay for expensive corned beef sandwich when they visit the Big Apple. (I fell for the same trap) So, it is weird that an Israeli chef set his sight on Philadelphia, a city better known for Quakers and Italian immigrants. Over the years, Michael Solomonov opened Zahav, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Percy Street Barbecue and Federal Donut. Some are oozing with Israeli inspirations, but others like Federal Donut couldn’t be more American. Goldie is the latest restaurant, located on Samson Street alongside with all his other restaurants. The focus this time is on the vegan falafel sandwich.
Sitting above another new Starr’s restaurant Rooster, Goldie is definitely a fast food joint. There are a few window seats and tables, but don’t expect to have a party going on here. There is no sit down service, everything is order at the counter. I believe this is to emulate the street food/falafel carts in Israel. With that said, the restaurant is very well decorated and themed around golden stuff. The window seats have an amazing view on the street below, with huge table space and very comfortable chair. The same could be said for the few sit down spots. The concept is fast, but they did not skim on decoration. This is in stark contrast to Federal Donuts, which is much more bare bone. Fancy lunch date at Goldie, but find your soulmate at Federal. :D
The menu option is pretty simple. The default falafel sandwich comes with three kinds of sauces, amba, schug or harissa. I kept mine plain. For those on a no-carb diet, you can get the falafel as a salad. However, you will also be missing out on the fries, especially the shawrma fries. They also serve tehina shakes, and the golden rule is always say yes to shakes, except at Chick-Fil-A. (Where do they get the milk? I thought Chick-fil-A is against eating cows? Do the chickens produce milk? Is the milkshake dairy-free? So many questions that it makes their shakes sketchy) Turkish coffee seems like the most fitting flavor here.
I found out later that tehina is a condiment made from toasted ground sesame. It is a major sauce used in Middle Eastern cuisine, but also common in Chinese food as sesame paste. Anyway, the food comes out quickly. The portion is very substantial, and definetely a bargain meal. It is no wonder that Goldie is on so many cheap eats lists. I counted 5 falafels in the sandwich. The falafels are very dense, and pairs well with the crunchy cucumber. It is what I imagine falafels sandwich taste like, very tasty and traditional. Personally, I can see myself choosing this over a decent hamburger and be vegan for a day. The tehina sauce gives the otherwise blend mixture a lot of flavor, to the point of almost too salty. I think they aced the amount of umami given to the sandwich, even when some bites of the sandwich did not have falafels. That’s a problem with any sandwich with big pieces like falafel or meatball – they can’t be distributed equally through out each bites, and there would be some bites that are veges in a bun. In this case, the tehina sauce is so good that I don’t mind.
I ordered the fries because I thought the portion might not be big enough. A major problem with vegan meals is that vegetables just don’t provide enough calories; this is not the case here. I’m filled to the brim and almost did not touch the fries. These fries, however, are the best I have in a while. The falafels are excellent, but the fries are even better. They are thick, crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Well seasoned and extremely substantial. In my opinion, the shawarm spice reminds me of Indian cuisine, and I think it pairs extremely well. One could never go wrong with spicy potatoes, or spicy carbs in general. Wake up Americans! Ketchup is not that great. If there is a weakness on the lineup, it might be the tehina shake. The Turkish coffee taste like nutmeg and ginger, which is fine but shakes are better sweet than bitter. I’m not sure if tehina makes the shake thick, but this shake is almost as thick as concrete. It is very unique, and not bad, but I prefer milkshakes that are sweet and silky. I am going to assume the lack of dairy and sugar would make the tehina shake a much healthier option.
I got my money’s worth. On top of that, this is a vegan meal that I enjoyed, which isn’t something I say ever. Here’s the breakdown on how good Goldie is.
Is Goldie amazing? Yes.
Do they serve the best falafel sandwich in North America? That I don’t know, but it is darn delicious.
Will Goldie join the rotating restaurants that I visit in Philly? Definitely, especially if I happen to need to go to a non-meat restaurant.
The fries? Hell yes.
Shake? I enjoy some variety from time to time.
As my time around the Mid-Atlantic is coming to an end, I’m very glad to see the food scene in Philadelphia grew. Philly used to only known for cheesesteaks. Then Federal Donuts happened, and all kinds of crazy things started to show up. La Colombe spread around. I even ate the Doh! ut Burger in Fishtown! Things have since shifted back from the extreme experimental food back to just simple, good meals. I don’t need a hundred different falafel-that-don’t-serve-cheesesteak shops in Philly – I just need one that is excellent. And Goldie will be it.
Visited: December 15. 2018 at 11:30am for lunch.
Address: 1526 Sansom St