Sampling local street food is a must while traveling abroad. One of the most vivid memories I have of visiting the Middle East involves eating my way through Jordan. I must have noshed at a half-dozen shawarma and falafel stands throughout the capital city of Amman. I can still recall the hypnotic effect of the giant hunks of mystery meat turning on a spit.

That memory sprang to the forefront of my mind as I entered Diwan Al Falafel and saw the familiar blocks of meat, spinning round and round. I was greeted by a smiling, mustached man welding a giant carving knife; chef Mohammed Afif—who has 40 years of cooking experience—gave us the rundown of the menu. Fortunately, no mystery meat here, as they only serve 100 percent certified Halal meat, which comes in either chicken or their beef-and-lamb mix.

I almost went with a traditional wrap, but decided that I’d rather have a combination plate to sample as much as possible. While not officially on the menu, a chicken, beef and lamb combo ($14.99) is available, if you ask. I also ordered up a side of their namesake falafel ($4.99/six pieces) to see if they were worthy.

The word huge doesn’t do the combo plate justice, as they really pack as much food as humanly possible onto the dish. The juicy and seared meat is served atop a bed of fluffy and tasty turmeric rice. The plate also comes with a side of hummus, pita bread and a cucumber-and-tomato salad that reminded me of a fattoush, minus the bread.

The entire dish was very enjoyable, but I’d have to give the edge to the chicken shawarma over the beef and lamb, as it had a slightly better flavor. The hummus was also delightfully creamy, well-flavored and I must commend them on actually using a good quality extra virgin olive oil with it, as a lot of other establishments usually use a much lighter—and flavorless—oil.

As for the eponymous falafel, they indeed were worthy of the name; crunchy, moist and packed with flavor. These might just be the best falafel I’ve ever tasted—outside of mom’s kitchen, of course. I could have eaten them alone, but I couldn’t resist dipping them into the hummus.

Foreign food carts aren’t in everyone’s future or past, so it’s nice to be able to get a taste of the street—sans street. Mystery meat need not apply

Diwan Al Falafel 
1085 E Brokaw Rd Ste 40, San Jose.