Authentic Middle Eastern @ Layla's Falafel

kerry barlas

I’m always on the lookout for great ethnic food close to home. I crave flavors that transport my taste buds and snap me out of the food doldrums. A trip to Layla’s Falafel does just that.

Offering a full menu of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, Layla’s (named for its owner) serves up well-priced, flavorful and fresh fare. Ideal for takeout, a quick lunch or a pre-movie pit-stop, it’s a solid alternative to your standard takeout repertoire.

Some friends and I met for lunch the other day at the Fairfield location (the other two are in Stamford) and shared a variety of dishes at one of the handful of tables in their small and spare setting. The aromatic lamb and chicken shwarema grilling on the vertical spit and the plate of homemade baklava oozing honey on the counter made my mouth instantly water.

The Arabic Chicken Shawerma – marinated grilled chicken rolled in a toasted wrap accompanied with garlic dip, hummus and the traditional Middle Eastern salad – was the group favorite. The “famous” garlic dip is a heavenly concoction; I ended up dipping everything in it. The salad is lightly dressed, with tomatoes, cucumbers and a unique blend of seasoning. With just the right consistency, the hummus is creamy with hints of lemon and tahini.

We also liked the Falafel Deluxe Platter, served with hummus, tahini and salad. Made from dried garbanzo beans and spices, then fried to a golden brown, these falafel have a very crispy outside and a soft inside. The real kicker here is the fried eggplant that comes with this dish…so good, I would order an extra side of it next time. I actually prefer the Falafel Deluxe as a sandwich. All of the flavors and textures (including the fried eggplant) work perfectly together rolled into a thick toasted wrap, smothered in tahini sauce. You can choose to have many of the menu items made as either a sandwich or a platter.

Layla’s Shawerma Sandwich boasts the Middle Eastern specialty of marinated, vertically grilled chicken and lamb. A zesty combination of both meats thinly sliced, white onion, parsley and a creamy sauce will satiate a yen for meat, on-the-go.

Other dishes of note include the Middle Eastern version of rice and beans, Mujadara, made with lentils and seasoned rice; the Fattoush Deluxe, a traditional salad topped with chicken shawerma or kabob, served with the luscious garlic dip; and for vegetarians, the Maza Platter Deluxe – falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush (a chunky puree of roasted eggplant and garlic) stuffed grape leaves and tabbouleh (a salad of cracked wheat, parsley, tomatoes, mint, onions, lemon juice and olive oil).

Not only is Layla’s fare authentic and tasty, it’s replete with wholesome ingredients that will satisfy both vegetarian and meat-eating diners. It is an excellent value, and with its casual surroundings, a kid friendly find for the more adventurous young eaters. Layla's also offers catering services which is a great way to enjoy these Middle Eastern flavors, without standing in line!

Related Links: If you have a hankering for homemade Pita Bread, check out this recipe for Easy Homemade Pita Bread from

Layla’s Falafel has 3 locations, open for lunch and dinner:

2088 Black Rock Tpke, Fairfield. 203.384.0100

936 High Ridge Road, Stamford. 203.461.9538

245 Main Street, Stamford. 203.316.9041 (new location)

Coromandel on Urbanspoon