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THIS WEEK: FALAFEL FOR ALL

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Making falafel in L.A. is like a game of horse in basketball -- success is less about novelty than about outdoing your opponent at the same task.

FALAFEL ARAX

Only recent arrivals and fans of Beck’s “Debra” haunt the Hollywood Zankou when Falafel Arax is so close. Arax’s tahini is zippier, the freshly fried patties both softer and crispier, and their sandwiches don’t drip on your skin-tight black jeans. 5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 2, Hollywood, (323) 663-9687

SUNNIN LEBANESE CAFE

Fight your way through feral packs of drunken UCLA undergrads for some of the best sub-$5 fava bean balls in the city. Or skip the Bruins altogether and head to Long Beach. 1779 Westwood Blvd., L.A., (310) 477-2358; 5110 E. Second St., (562) 433-9000

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MAROUCH

From the road, Marouch looks like a restaurant the Hillside Stranglers would have hit up, but inside it’s a lavishly hokey bit of old Lebanon that happens to dole out the most sumptuous, extravagantly spiced falafel in East Hollywood. 4905 Santa Monica Blvd., (323) 662-9325

SHAWARMA KITCHEN

Most of the food-stall cuisine in Grand Central Market is avoidable, but this modest stand gets it right with herb-laced hunks of falafel dense enough to leave a welt if propelled at high speeds. 317 S. Broadway E-4, Grand Central Market, (213) 621-9555

ELENA’S GREEK ARMENIAN CUISINE

Armenian falafel can get lost in the fevered debate over the merits of the Israeli, Palestinian or Lebanese versions. That’s a shame, because the impossibly cheap and rich falafel balls at this closet-sized Glendale stand get locals nostalgic for old Yerevan every time. 1000 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, (818) 241-5730

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-- August.Brown@latimes.com


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