While Rhinebeck hosts a farmer’s market year-round, the outdoor one boasts the most vendors and activities. Those in the know learn quickly what offerings to stock up on in the waning days before the market moves indoors. One of my annual end-of-market lunches has been Aba Falafel at the entrance of the market. Always a wistful experience, I knew I had to fill up on their extraordinary falafel, pita, and salads before I said a sad farewell until the following spring.
But no more. On July 1, 2017 owners Cathy and Roy Naor made a TON of locals and visitors really happy by opening an actual brick and mortar restaurant diagonally across from the outdoor market location.
Stumbling upon it last summer, I nearly wept with relief, knowing that town errands could now include bringing home superb Israeli food. (Note, you can also eat in the restaurant). And they STILL serve up every Sunday at the entrance to the outdoor market as well.
I’m a bit of a falafel aficionado. I’ve made them from a mix and from scratch. I’ve baked them, sautéed them, and deep fried them. I’ve served them with yogurt and tahini; with AND without pita. I fashioned a somewhat pathetic Israeli salad. Once. I require my falafel to be bite size, round, and crispy, so free of oil that the plate, pita, or paper shows no oil. And Aba’s are among the best I’ve ever eaten. Timed to perfection, the outside is so crispy it crackels, and the inner chickpea mixture is tangy, warm, and perfectly spiced. Aba serves them two ways: in a pita with tahini squirted on top, or on a plate with two wonderful salads: sumac and Israeli.
They also have daily soups (today’s was artichoke and red pepper) and specials. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Sunday, go for the Sabich, a delectable fried eggplant sandwich served with salad and tahini. If you have hated eggplant your whole life, this will be a game changer.
And don’t forget dessert. Lew’s the one with the sweet tooth and he believes the baklava to be proof that there is goodness in this world. The blend of honey, pastry, and lots of nuts made for a light, but not sickenly sweet finish to the meal.
Aba’s has a terrific Facebook page updated almost daily so feature specials, soups, and any chance of hours. If you love, or have wanted to try Israeli food, include Aba’s on your Market Street stroll. The space is small but mighty; the owners and staff (including their kids) are warm and friendly.
Know Before You Go:
Aba’s generally open for lunch 11-3. If there’s something going on in Rhinebeck, like Sinterklaas, they may be open late, so be sure to check their FB page.
They are very accommodating about your preferences. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra tahini, sauces, extra-hot falafel or any other thing you like. And if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or keep kosher or halal, you will be in heaven.