Favorite Dish: Shawarma at Falafel Benny in Hallandale | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

100 Favorite Dishes

Favorite Dish: Shawarma at Falafel Benny in Hallandale

With so many restaurants in South Florida, and more opening all the time, just picking where to go for dinner on a Saturday night or lunch on a Wednesday can be an overwhelming task. Sometimes, you just need a reason. This ongoing list of the favorite dishes from food writers who know the local scene will help you discover new restaurants, cafes, and eateries and maybe even a new favorite dish of your own.

“Have you ever tried a shawarma? There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I wanna try it,” goes the bit at the end of The Avengers. Well, if you don’t know what shawarma is, one of the best places to try it around here is at Falafel Benny in Hallandale. The small, tidy storefront just west of Dixie Highway on Hallandale Beach Boulevard is owned and operated by Ben Regev, aka Falafel Benny, an Israeli native and longtime South Florida resident.

The menu bears a caricature sketch of Regev, with bushy eyebrows and an impish grin that slightly belies the man himself. Regev is no-nonsense, to the point, staccato in his speech, yet friendly behind the gruff exterior. He knows all of his customers by name, and frequently offers to pick up their tabs. At the very least, first-timers get a free falafel or two as a sample.

Loyal customers, mostly men, filter in and out of the place all day long. Lunchtime is busy. Middle Eastern music plays in the background while men have loud discussions in Hebrew. Slightly high on the testosterone, it’s a very friendly and convivial atmosphere nonetheless.

Shawarma (from the Turkish word meaning “turning”) is an Arabic meat preparation, usually of lamb or chicken, similar to the familiar Greek gyro. Slices of meat are marinated and arranged with slices of fat on a turning spit and roasted slowly. As the fat melts, it effectively bastes the entire ziggurat of meat, keeping it juicy. The meat is then sliced to order, stuffed in a warm, soft pita, and packed with an array of fresh and flavorful condiments, all prepared daily. 

What really sets this shawarma apart is the juicy, tender meat and the ridiculously great marinade (Regev’s is a complex mixture of Greek and Indian spices).You have a choice of 100 percent kosher chicken, lamb, or both. Choose both.

If you’re one of those weird people who abhor cilantro, you may have to forgo some of the toppings. But fear not— there are eighteen to choose from, including pickled red cabbage, hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, tomatoes, cucumbers, marinated eggplant, tzatziki, and tahini sauce. As you build your shawarma, Benny will ask if you’d like it spicy. If so, he’ll throw in some homemade skhug – a middle eastern hot sauce made from hot peppers, lots of fresh cilantro, and garlic.

After the pita is literally bursting at the seams with all those delectable condiments, Benny will tell you to “sit, eat, then pay after.” You don’t want to argue with this guy. 

Be sure to grab lots of napkins—it gets messy. Horking down the entire thing—which is almost impossible not to do—might bring on a case of the “meat sweats,” but it’s worth it. 

Falafel Benny is located at 658 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Friday. Closed Saturday. Call 954-455-2118 or visit falafelbenny.com.
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Claudia Dawson

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