Having a Ball

Falafel comes to Owings Mills.

By Jane Marion - April 2015

Review: Cilantro

Falafel comes to Owings Mills.

By Jane Marion - April 2015

Falafel balls and all the fixings. -Photography by Scott Suchman

The first time I tasted falafel, I was in Israel and working as a volunteer on an Israeli tank-repair base in the middle of the Negev Desert. In between tinkering on air filters and reupholstering tank seats, my military diet consisted of hard-boiled eggs and tomato-cucumber salad washed down by cups of steaming sweet tea. But on weekends, I made my way to Tel Aviv, where I stuffed myself silly on Israeli street food and feasted on falafel. The fried green balls were at their best when buried deep down in a piece of pita, slathered with tzatziki, and augmented by tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, parsley, and pickles.

When a friend told me that Cilantro, a Middle Eastern eatery, had opened in Owings Mills (by three Israelis, no less), I was eager to visit, though the name suggests Mexico more than the Mediterranean. Bad branding aside, the fare, it turns out, is delicious.

Cilantro's falafel—well-seasoned and stained green from ample doses of cilantro—is the best I've had in years. Here, it's served in a lafa (Israeli bread) wrap or in a bowl, and comes in a number of flavor combinations, including white bean and rosemary ($6.95), spicy ($6.95), and smoked roasted red pepper ($6.95). I ordered the spicy version—delicious without activating your pain receptors. The falafel (as well as other menu items) comes with a dozen or so add-ons to customize your meal (think Chipotle as you move down the line), including couscous, tomato-cucumber salad, baba ghanoush, pickles, sauerkraut, and tabbouleh, plus a variety of sauces, including a tangy tahini and garlic sauce.

My favorite building blocks included a thick hummus and salty slices of fried eggplant. The couscous and the tabbouleh, however, tasted like they'd spent too much time on the steam table, so eyeball them before ordering. If you're not a falafel fan, there are other entrees to consider. The chicken shwarma ($7.95), carved straight from the spit, has an excellent char and is incredibly juicy and flavorful. To get in some greens, I ordered mine on top of a Greek salad ($7.94). Lamb kabobs ($10.95) and kefta kabobs ($8.95) at nearby tables also looked promising. Traditional house-made desserts, including an authentic baklava ($2.45), are there to tempt, too.

The Holy Land graces New Town. Who knew?

›› Cilantro, 9351 Lakeside Blvd., Owings Mills, 410-413-6596. Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Prices: wraps and platters: $4.95-10.95; desserts: $2.45.

You May Also Like

In Good Taste

Without Reservation: Tark’s Grill

Co-owner Gino Cardinale discusses the restaurant’s survival and memories of his beloved City Café.

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: NiHao; Bmore Licks; Sally O’s

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Food & Drink

Local Flavor Live Podcast: Spirit of Roggenart Revived in Roland Park

Plus, our favorite summer ice cream spots and best bites of the week.

In Good Taste

Celebrate Orioles Opening Day with These Carryout Specials

From ice cream to bagels, here are orange-inspired eats to enjoy from home.

Food & Drink

Local Flavor Live Podcast: Restaurants Get Creative in the Age of COVID

Unique approaches to serving diners while keeping up with ever-changing restrictions.

Food & Drink

Three Sips That Evoke The Spirit of Summer

Wine and spirits to look out for at your favorite bottle shop.

Falafel balls and all the fixings. -Photography by Scott Suchman

Connect With Us

Most Read

The Womanist Reader Creates an Online Library of Black Literature: A Baltimore writer curates an evolving list of women writers for her women followers.

Amid The Economic Chaos, Downtown Partnership’s New President Has a Plan: Shelonda Stokes was just named president after serving in an interim leadership role.

How These Surprise Quarantine ‘Flower Bombs’ Are Helping Families in Need: The paper-plate flowers have become a massive fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.

Design for Distancing Competition Aims to Revive The Beauty of Public Spaces: Forward-thinking social-distancing structures could be built in the city as early as this month.

Five Things to Know About Democratic Mayoral Nominee Brandon Scott: The 36-year-old City Council President rallies past Sheila Dixon to win Democratic mayoral primary.