2012-07-18 / Restaurant of the Week

ATM Homemade Falafel

This petite eatery really packs in the customers with their delicious international cuisine. Originally founded by Hassan and Arun, who created the recipe for the best falafel in Queens, Arun (Andy) and his lovely wife Raju now run ATM Restaurant Falafel with pride, and have expanded the menu. Indeed ATM reflects the diversity of Queens itself with dishes from Lebanon, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Nepal, from where Raju hails. Eat inside this tiny restaurant on a trio of stools or take your order to go. They will even deliver to your home or office.

All dishes are made with quality ingredients including halal meat, which meets very high standards. It all started with their famous falafel, made from crushed chick peas and a special blend of spices that make these crunchy on the outside and soft in the center balls so delectable. Enjoy a falafel platter with four pieces of falafel, house made tabboule, hummus, tahini sauce and Lebanese bread for an amazing $7. These yummy falafel can also be wrapped up on a sandwich on fluffy pita bread with tahini sauce, lettuce and tomato for a great lunch, snack or dinner.

We started with some Lebanese style ‘mezze’ or appetizers that include their delicious baba ghannouj, a puree of smoked eggplant, tahini and fresh lemon juice that is perfect in this hot weather. The same is true for tabboule, a salad made from hand chopped fresh parsley, onion, tomato, olive oil and lemon juice. The hummus is made from scratch from pureed chick peas and mild spices and all these salads are wonderful spread on triangles of pita bread.

The friendly grill men, Mohammed and Wael, prepare all the meat dishes on the spot and serve them sizzling hot. We tried the combination platter that included shish kebab, chicken kebab, and kafta. The shish is made with chunks of beef laced on a skewer with onions, peppers and tomato. The chicken is very tender and the kafta is a type of handmade sausage made with ground beef, onion, herbs, and spices that make them so savory and delicious. Shawarma are marinated slices of beef, also savory and tender and all of these delicious meats can be ordered as a platter along with hummus, tabboule, bread, lettuce, tomato and pickles from $7 to $11 for the mixed grill. They can also be ordered in a sandwich to stay or to go, for about $5, making ATM Restaurant Falafel a real bargain. Quench your thirst with a very refreshing homemade lemonade garnished with fresh mint leaves.

On to the Indian side of the menu, Andy prepares wonderful chicken tikka masala with a blend of mild spices in a heavenly sauce that goes so well spooned over basmati rice ($5.99). We devoured the chicken biryani, a classic chicken and rice dish that is so flavorful and satisfying, I’ll be back for more. Pani Puri, a dish from Delhi, is light, puffy puri bread filled with potatoes, chick peas, tamarind and chili, served six to a serving and ideal for sharing ($3.99). Bhel Puri comes from Mumbai and is a delicacy made of puffed rice, tomato, onion, and tamarind sauce, garnished with coriander and lemon juice. Afghani chicken pulao is marinated and served with aromatic cumin-scented basmati rice. Freshly blended mango lassi is a refreshing yogurt drink that goes well with the Indian dishes or as a snack.

From Nepal, comes a popular dish called ‘momo.’ These delicate, handmade dumplings are served either steamed or fried and are filled with vegetables and herbs or chicken and herbs. Best of all, Raju’s famous dipping sauce makes these momos a treat you won’t find elsewhere. Other special Asian dishes include Thai chicken satay served hot off the grill with peanut dipping sauce, Punjabi vegetable samosas, Korean chicken marinated in spices, and hand little kathi rolls filled with chicken or vegetables. Bubble tea is a very popular drink from Taiwan and you’ll find a delicious one here, along with fruit juices and yogurt drinks.

Sweeten your palate with Indian style rice pudding or gulab jaman made with fresh cheese and sweetened milk. You’ll be amazed at how this tiny restaurant packs in so much diverse cuisine and so many happy customers. Visit soon, conveniently located on Broadway and 37th Street.

ATM Restaurant Falafel

36-18 Broadway (at 37th St.)  Astoria

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