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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Havin' a Ball

After crafting seed bombs the other weekend with Amber and Loukas,
we were starving, but without smart phones or a GPS handy, we weren't sure where to get vegan-friendly grub after 9pm on a Friday in Tampa that didn't require an hour-long wait. We knew there was always Pizza Fusion downtown, but that was pricier than we wanted, plus wasn't exactly what we were craving. Unfortunately, Petra on Busch Boulevard is still closed since the fire a month or two ago (does anyone know if they're going to reopen?), and we were all kinda jonesin' for some falafel. I'm not sure how Byblos popped into my head, especially since I'd never eaten there before, but a quick Google SMS text brought me their number, I called for hours and an address, and we zoomed off to the USF area. We made it with 25 minutes to spare!

I had heard good things about Byblos, but had never eaten there before. The USF location, Byblos Pitas, is take-out style along the lines of Moe's or Chipotle: Order your main, protein-y component (falafel or meat), then slide down the line, picking and choosing what you want with it as you make your way to the cash register.

I went with falafel, dolmades, hummus, and babaganoush with cucumbers for dipping (even though I ended up with warm pita bread AND pita chips, as well).

Not the healthiest of meals, but I was very, very hungry and this is what appealed to me. The falafel was PERFECT. And believe me, I've had some awful falafel (like burnt hockey pucks) since moving to Tampa, always from take-out places like Pita's Republic and the like. (Never, EVER trust anything with a drive-through.) THIS was very different, and very good. The babaganoush was the other star of my plate: creamy, smokey, eggplanty, lovely. Something about the dolmades, however, wasn't jiving with me. There was some flavor that I could not detect and it was throwing me off. I gave the rest of them to Loukas. Amber had her falafel wrap-style and also loved it. Loukas ordered the lentil soup and was very happy with that.

Before we left, the owner of the place chatted with us about the food. He makes the falafel fresh, in-house, daily. He even brought out the falafel mixture in a giant bowl, two fresh whole eggplants, and a giant container of soaked chickpeas to back it up.

He also recommended we try out their other location, Byblos Cafe, on South MacDill. That location is a nicer, sit-down restaurant and they have a bigger menu. You know that's gotten bumped up on my to-do list!

Even though there was no tabbouleh on the menu at Byblos Pitas, I still ended up with this song stuck in my head for TWO FULL DAYS. That's 48-hours of this song below, on loop, in my mind. It definitely impaired my thinking and comprehension for those two days.

Where is your favorite falafel place?

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