If I’m going to eat fried foods, they had better be worth the calories. And while I love a good falafel sandwich, there are sadly too many that just aren’t worth it. In Boston we’re lucky to have a wide array of these crispy balls—from straight-up Israeli-style chickpea to an Arab-style fava bean mix, with various shades from tan to green. Regardless of your style choice, falafel is a veggie-friendly homerun lunch option that does a heck of a PR campaign for the Middle East. Given all our choices and varieties, it seems unfair to rank the “top” when so many are worth checking out, so here are the first five falafel sandwiches that are well worth tasting around the city. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Rami’s, Coolidge Corner
The Boston version of the Israeli classic, you can’t talk about falafel in Boston without mentioning Rami’s. These are smaller and crispier falafel stuffed inside fluffy real-deal Israeli pita, and overflowing with tasty hummus and Israeli salad. If you haven’t been here, you need to check out this Coolidge Corner staple. Oh, and it’s also happens to be one of the best kosher options in town!

The Chubby Chickpea, Canton (or follow their food truck)
One of the better falafel sandwiches I’ve had in Boston, these fluffy pitas are packed with all the right fixings, including freshly made hummus and salty pickles. This sandwich brings me back to Israel every time. And did I mention it’s also kosher?!

Jerusalem Pita & Grill, Coolidge Corner
This is part of the kosher falafel trifecta. The falafel is good, but what really makes this place for me is the laffa, which isn’t so common in Boston). If you haven’t had it, it’s like pita meets flatbread on steroids, and as much as I adore pita, laffa is just the perfect packaging for the job.

Jake’s Falafel Corner, Newton Centre
These are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and rolled up with the perfect amount of fresh hummus and veggies. Jake not only makes a fantastic falafel sandwich, but he brings an authentic taste of Israel to Newton Centre.

Piperi Mediterranean Grill, Government Center
The whole vibe of this place is lighter and fresher than your average heavy falafel. They crush up their balls and sprinkle them into the sandwich for great, even distribution amongst a wide variety of salads. Since I like options, my favorite part is that you can load on whatever you want, from the super traditional hummus to Moroccan carrot salad to feta and more.

Disclaimer: No matter the falafel, it needs to be eaten fresh and hot! Soggy take-out falafel just doesn’t do the job, so I highly recommend making each of these places a destination.

*Photo courtesy of Rami’s