• maoz vegetarian – hopefully the next McDonald’s

    November 5th, 2008mr meanermore restaurants (not LA), NYC

    Every few years, a great culinary idea comes along that revolutionizes fast food. Over the past 50 years we’ve seen burger chains, pizza chains, burrito chains, sandwich chains and even coffee chains. The basic premise is the same: “Here’s our basic product, now you tell us what you want on it or in it and we’ll complete the preparation just for you!”. And, it works. In my vegetarian days I used to love experimenting with different pizza toppings, and still now, a visit to a Subway fills me with excitement as I get to decide every time what kind of vegetables I want on my Veggie Delite(tm).

    Now, the vegetarian and (more to the point) vegan world has no specialist fast food concepts that are aimed directly at us. Of course, we can get ‘something’ at most chain establishments but food preparation practices and very limited choice typically leave us with the least appetizing thing on the menu.

    A small, European-based chain called Maoz threatens to change all this with a stunningly simple, yet highly compelling, concept that’s vegetarian in nature but appeals to carnivores as well. With today’s emphasis on fast, healthy food that’s inexpensive I think they might just be on to something. See how deceptively simple the menu is! (pdf link)

    At a Maoz you get handed a warm, soft pita bread with a few perfectly cooked and very tasty falafel balls deep inside, and your choice of several integrated condiments (I like Humous, but there are two other vegan options), then (get THIS!) they let you loose on an amazing cold salad bar that’s NOTHING like you’ve ever seen before. Here’s my Maoz, after salad bar application, outside the Union Square outlet this past weekend.

    I’ve visited two outlets: Union Square (twice!) and London once. Both were highly consistent and tasted almost exactly the same. That’s a good sign for fast food, as the founder of McDonald’s, Sam McDonald (or whatever his name was) had an obsession about the customer experience being the same globally. Now, talking of customer experience, you’re in and out of the place pretty quick. Even on crazily busy Union Square Market Day

    It works as follows:

    • You line up
    • You order a “Maoz with X”, where X is the condiment you want
    • They hand it to you, usually within a minute
    • You get to peruse and help yourself to as many things as you want from the salad bar
    • You get to stand in the street and eat your Maoz, or take it back to the office

    The real kicker here is not so much the amazing pita and falafel but the incredible choice of salad items you can put on it. Here’s what I put on mine:

    Spicy Mushrooms with Chilies, Toasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, Carrot and Garlic Pickle, Onion and Chili relish, Fresh Zucchini and Lime

    I then proceeded to add some amazing cilantro-based hot sauce all over the top before retiring to a bench in the square to eat my lunch. Miss Anthrope was a little more cautious (her noted hatred of bell peppers can only be described as a handicap in situations such as this), opting instead for only Cous Cous, Tabouli and Tahini:

    But, even with such a limited selection, the Anthropic One had one heck of a sandwich to enjoy. I hope beyond hope that Maoz takes off in the US. They seem to be opening more outlets (Washington DC and somewhere on the West Coast [Seattle or Vancouver – difficult to tell from the map] are about to open, and they have a franchise application on the US site, which (if we were not in a historic credit crunch) would be a great indicator of more restaurants in the US to come.

    Regardless, I’ll be in London in a few weeks and will report back on Maoz, along with a storyboard of ordering and dressing the perfect sandwich.

    Do visit one of their locations if you can. You won’t regret it, even if you have to fly to Amsterdam or Mumbai to enjoy. Meanwhile, here’s the Union Square location exterior:

    If you ever walk past, please stop in for a Maoz. All this deliciousness was only $9.90 + TAX. Can’t think of a better deal for fast, healthy nutritious food in Manhattan — or elsewhere!

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9 responses to “maoz vegetarian – hopefully the next McDonald’s” RSS icon

  • So cool and crazy! Its like the Pita joint of Frozen Yogurt

  • I remember seeing the Maoz storefront in Union Square when I was there over Labor Day weekend 2007, but opted to dine at the (now-defunct) Zen Palate instead. I’ll have to give it a shot next time; it looks like a fun dining experience!

  • Both of yours looks so delicious. Carrot and Garlic Pickle… yowza! Looks like I better start saving up for that trip to Mumbai 🙂

  • look at that giant tower of a sandwich! if that place were in LA I think I’d be there every day!

  • “tasty falafel balls deep inside”
    That’s what she said!

  • Looks yummy! If you are ever in Santa Barbara, CA – try Sojourner Cafe, really tasty food, mostly vegetarian with many vegan options.

  • MAOZ IS AMAZING. It kept me alive in Europe. Cheap. Amazing. The salad bar still haunts my dreams. I called them a year ago and begged them to open an LA location.

  • Have you been to Bella Pita in Westwood? Same general idea, though not as huge a bar of condiments. They have another vegan filling besides falafel, based on black beans.

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