When Schlomo Ravid opened the first Falafel King on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall in 1981, he couldn't have known that subsequent owners Avner and Amon Gilady would turn it into a food-court staple across town. Now Falafel King offers four ways to get good food fast: at the original Boulder site, in the Tabor Center and Republic Plaza on the 16th Street Mall, and in a strip mall on Colorado Boulevard. The food-court outlets are particularly welcome: In a land of Sbarros and Chik-Fil-A, Falafel King looks like a desert oasis. Not only is falafel's primary component, the garbanzo bean, healthy -- it's high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol-free -- but it's also tasty when fried in little balls and jammed inside a fresh pita along with tomatoes and cucumber. One of those basic beauties runs about $3.50, and you can side it with one of the $1.50 options: tabbouli, baba ghanouj or a small salad. Every ingredient is absolutely fresh, and the whole package comes out faster than you can say "half-hour for lunch." Among food court vendors, Falafel King reigns supreme.
Readers' choice: Falafel King