If I’m not eating falafel, I’m enjoying cauliflower seasoned with turmeric, cumin and paprika and fried to a light crisp in canola oil.
The narrow storefront, split down the center by a half-wall and stools, finds customers ordering at a counter and workers bringing food to tables. The owners come from fine dining backgrounds, experience that translates to quality eating at Taim. Admony has cooked at such admired establishments as Tabla, Danube and Patria in Manhattan; Nafziger counts Bouley Bakery and Balthazar as front-of-the-house résumé highlights. The tahini for their lemony hummus is Jerusalem brand, and the pillowy pita is courtesy of Angel’s Bakery in New Jersey. (Taim buys the bread frozen and reheats it at each location.)
Unless you’ve got a mouth the size of an excavator bucket, order your meal as a platter. Sandwiches are filled to bursting and tough to get your jaw around without making a spectacle of yourself. An encounter with the pita-encased “mezze-terranean” — stuffed with Moroccan carrots, marinated beets, creamy hummus and more — felt like grazing on an entire salad bar. Platters include pickles, peppers, za’atar-flecked pita and a wan tabbouleh, one of the few off notes I encountered in multiple pit stops. Any meal is better when it includes zhug, the pulse-quickening Middle Eastern condiment whose popularity coincides with the country’s heightened interest in Israeli fare.
Drinks are designed to match the food. Lemonade sharpened with ginger and breezy with mint is refreshing. A banana smoothie gets a boost from lime and chopped dates, bits of which might slow your sipping when the sweet fruit clogs your straw.
Packed with flavor, the menu is free of meat. In general, Taim lives up to its translation from Hebrew: “tasty.”
Stay tuned. The owners are cooking up more shops for Washington, with the next branch likely to be in Dupont Circle. The couple is also eyeing Los Angeles and Miami for a “selfish” reason, says Admony: “So we can get out of the Northeast every winter.”
1065 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-560-5419. taimfalafel.com. Sandwiches $8.95 to $9.50; platters $12.95 to $13.50.