Certain restaurants enter the Santa Barbara scene so seamlessly, you wonder how we survived before. Fala Bar, the recently opened, 100 percent plant-based, organic, vegan Mediterranean restaurant, is now filling the need in the Santa Barbara Public Market for fresh, filling vegetarian lunch options that won’t leave diners or their bank accounts feeling the least bit sluggish.
The original Fala Bar opened in Los Angeles in 2014, and they’ve since expanded with two more L.A. locations. They opened their light, bright, friendly space in the former home of Flagstone Pantry in June.
Staying true to the original locations’ dedication to sourcing ingredients locally, Fala Bar gets all of its produce from Santa Barbara’s farmers’ markets and Plow to Porch Organics. With such thoughtfully procured ingredients, it’s refreshing to see that Fala Bar’s pricing is fair, with large falafel burgers costing only $9.95.
“We want to make sure that we’re offering fresh food, large portions, and it’s affordable,” said Far Rahimian, manager of the Santa Barbara location.
With six different kinds of falafel ranging from spicy to sweet potato, there’s something for everyone. The original falafel was my favorite, consisting of chickpea, cilantro, parsley, garlic, cumin, onion, and jalapeño. These flavors are tastefully highlighted in the American Burger, which features sliced tomato and onion, dill pickles, ketchup, mustard, and veggie mayo.
“Our pitas and hamburger buns are homemade,” Rahimian said of their beautifully textured vegan bread, which stays moist thanks to the secret ingredient of applesauce. Falafel is naturally gluten-free, and if people are looking for a gluten-free burger or sandwich, they can get theirs wrapped in cabbage.
A top seller is the Kaleifornia Burger, a super satisfying combination of kale falafel patty, house-made Thousand Island dressing, lemony kale, pickled purple cabbage, grilled onions, and avocado. Diners looking to try a bit of everything can have their taste buds fully entertained by the Fala Plate, which consists of four falafel balls, hummus, tahini, Israeli salad, quinoa tabouli, and white and purple cabbage.
The restaurant also features a variety of salads and thoughtful sides such as Gigi’s snack cup. This combination of Brussels sprouts, hummus, quinoa tabouli, Israeli salad, tahini, and falafel fits right in a car’s cup holder and is ideal for people on the go looking for a nutritious treat.
All of the salads and sauces are prepped in house. The falafel patties and sweet potato fries are fried in grapeseed oil, which lends a lightness to these dishes rarely felt after French fries. Fala Bar’s quick service and unpretentious attitude also sets it apart. With each visit, friendly faces such as Rahimian’s happily explain ingredients to customers with genuine enthusiasm. And there may be more to come. Said Rahimian, “We expect to open another location downtown in the near future.”
In the Santa Barbara Public Market, 38 W. Victoria St. falabar.com