A fast-growing falafel shop that has won over the hearts and stomachs of New York City critics will begin its attempted conquest of the D.C. market this month with a new shop in Georgetown.
Israeli-born chef Einat Admony and Stéfan Nafziger, her partner and husband, are a couple inspections away from opening a Taïm, which means “tasty” in Hebrew, at 1065 Wisconsin Avenue NW. Boasting recipes for two flavors of fried-to-order chickpea fritters that trace back to Tel Aviv, Taïm has grown from one five-seat counter in the West Village to five total locations in Manhattan over the past 14 years.
The fast-casual counter sells pitas, salads, and platters stuffed with four options: falafel — either herbaceous green or spicy harissa — all-veggie “Mezze-terranean,” cauliflower shawarma, or sabich (fried eggplant). Taïm also sells fries, which come with either saffron aioli or harissa ketchup, as well as seasonal salads and smoothies in flavors like date lime banana or strawberry raspberry basil.
As seriously as Admony takes falafel, she says sabich is “my favorite sandwich in the whole world.” At Taïm, the eggplant comes with a boiled egg, hummus, Israeli salad, cabbage, tahini, parsley, and amba, a condiment made from pickled green mango and fenugreek. Taïm is billing the sabich as the next “it” sandwich, with the chef mentioning that Nancy Silverton plans to sell her own version inside stuffed pizza dough sandwiches at forthcoming Pizzette in Los Angeles.
Admony, who runs fancier Balaboosta and couscous house Kish-Kash in New York, says she originally wanted to open a falafel place because she couldn’t find a decent option in New York. “Even small things like tahini sauce was run down with water,” she says. “It was very cheapened.”
After spending three months workshopping falafel, she began selling fritters that have been hailed as the best in the city by New York Magazine, Serious Eats and the New York Daily News. Last year, Taïm publicized an expansion plan that included bringing on former Chipotle regional manager Phil Petrilli as CEO. As the brand has grown, so has Admony’s profile. She’s appeared as a judge on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay and has won Chopped twice.
Like other New York entrepreneurs that have come to town, Admony referenced D.C.’s proximity to the Big Apple and vibrant food scene as reasons she targeted the city as a desirable place to expand. In Georgetown, Taïm will share a block a direct competitor, Muncheez, which sells Middle Eastern bowls full of cauliflower and falafel. The neighborhood is also home to philanthropically minded Falafel Inc.
Taïm plans to plant multiple locations in D.C. The Georgetown store gets some signature styling in the form of a mural from Broken Fingaz Crew, an Israeli street art collective.