Falafel, a deep-fried staple made from chickpeas, onion, garlic, and other ingredients, is to the Middle East what a hamburger is to the States -- a quick, delicious, and convenient meal sold on every other street corner. As with hamburgers, there's good falafel and there's falafel that doesn't quite cut it. Solano Avenue's Zand Market does it right -- with a soft pita shell, fresh tomatoes, crunchy lettuce, warm and crispy falafel, and flavorful tzatziki sauce. Zand's falafel counter is set within a small marketplace of Middle Eastern grocery items. You'll find Iranian cookies, pomegranate juice, Middle Eastern breads and grains, and fresh baklava. While you may not come home with all the fixins for your own home-cooked Syrian meal, you can get a good taste of the cradle of civilization for just a few bucks.
Holy Land Restaurant
Two locations: Berkeley, 510-665-1672;