Middle Eastern got Chipotle-ized!
That may be an oversimplification, but the parallels are there. Founders Benji and Stacey Rosen have taken inexpensive street food - in this case, falafel and schawarma - tweaked the flavors, used ingredients that are relatively high-quality given the low price point and put it all in a modern quick-serve setting.
The industrial decor might remind you of Chipotle, too, although it's less shiny and more minimalist. The unfinished floors, warehouse lights hanging from the exposed ceiling and the wood tables adorned with scorch marks are juxtaposed with sleek black booths, green walls and two flat-screens, which are usually tuned to rock concerts.
The extremely small menu is reminiscent of what's offered by Israeli street vendors (the restaurant's name is a play on Ben Yehuda Street, a popular pedestrian thoroughfare in Jerusalem): falafel or schawarma (chicken or beef), available in a pita, on laffa (a thicker wrap) or without bread on romaine lettuce or rice. If you can't decide, order the Yehuda flight, a three-pita sampling of each of the proteins (the chicken, delicious and tender, shines the brightest of the bunch). If you're a falafel fan and want some a la carte, you can order the Ball Sac (get it?!), the most ill-advised local food-related name since Earwax. There are also churros, for some reason, as well as pita chips.
But please, please don't forget to order the fries. Equal parts very greasy and very crispy, this Utopian realization of the fast food skin-on fry is impossible to resist. Luckily (or not, depending on your health goals), the portions are generous. You can also order them with Merkts cheddar, but why mess with the delicious balance BenjYehuda has achieved?
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Alexander Hough