Tag Archives: Mediterranean

Banzo

Perfect Pita
Location: Two carts, one on Library Mall and one on Capitol Square on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
By: Kailey

Another quest for a food cart new to the scene this year lead me to Banzo, a cute green cart staffed by cute workers. I heard about this cart long before I saw it person. Banzo has received some favorable media coverage with both the Isthmus and Badger Herald singing its praises. (It helps that Banzo has a nice website that provides all this information for you.) I had even heard through the street eating grapevine that Banzo is better than Med Cafe, a State Street staple restaurant with incredible Mediterranean food. Me and my fellow Street Eaters laughed this off. Better than Med Cafe? Yeah right. Not possible.
 

Can’t miss it cart

 
I stepped up to the already famous lime green cart, mulled my many options and ended up with the classic “The Banzo” pita sandwich for $6. You can order it as a platter with rice, hummus, chopped salad and pita bread for an extra $2 but I wanted to take part in the pita sandwich box phenomenon. They serve the pita sandwiches in these boxes that are portable AND the top rips off the box so you can eat your pita in peace…not pieces. Yes it’s geeky to get excited over a box, but seriously, the boxes are genius.
 
All the good press wasn’t wrong – my lunch was delicious. It was amazing. I would even go as far as mind-blowing. I took a bite and I made noises. I moaned. In front of people. This is not entirely unusual, I often profess my love for my meals, but this was right up there with the out of this world breakfast sandwiches at Marigold. The falafel was perfectly cooked, crunchy on the outside and exploding with incredible flavor on the inside. Don’t take my word for it – I allowed my self-professed falafel know-it-all pal take a bite of one of the falafel balls: she confirmed, this was damn good. The best she’s tasted since Israel (I told you, she’s the falafel pro). Also tucked into my adorable whole wheat pita were crispy chips, hummus, a handful of salad, pickles and a hearty mix of three sauces (tahini, yogurt and hot sauce). Something very unusual for me – thanks to the fancy box I didn’t use any napkins.
 

Heavenly falafel pita sandwich

 
I was satisfied with the amount of food I ordered, it wasn’t too much, it wasn’t too little. Like Goldilocks, I found the just right pita sandwich and I didn’t feel like garbage after eating it because the ingredients were light and fresh. Banzo clearly knows what they’re doing and will fare well in the food cart scene. They even have gluten free and vegan options meaning everyone can partake in a Banzo meal. While I’m not ready to banish the Med Cafe chicken akins plate from my lunchtime options, I’m jumping on the Banzo bandwagon along with the rest of Madison.
Deliciousness: 5/5 plates
Price: 5/5 plates
Speed: 5/5 plates
Authenticity/Originality: 5/5 plates
OVERALL: 5/5 plates

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King of Falafel

Not a Grecian Delight 
Location: Corner of Pinckney, Mifflin and Hamilton (Capitol Square)
By: Kailey

For my first food cart stop of the season, I wanted to go somewhere special that offered food I had been craving the whole winter season. Instead, I went to the mobile eatery located closest to my house. In my defense, it was raining.

I approached the King of Falafel cart on the Capitol Square and expected to be in for treat. I eavesdropped on overheard the conversation that the lady in front of me was having with the cook. She revealed she was a coveted member of the food cart review committee. Group members eat food from every single cart for a week each September and their scores determine where the carts will be located the next season. She told the cook she “loves the food here.” I smiled to myself and prepared to bite into a delicious lunch – if someone who has eaten every item from every cart likes this place, it must be incredible.

King of Falafel cart - labeled Mediterranean Cuisine

I ordered the standard gyro but substituted chicken for lamb. After a wait of about three minutes, I was handed a Styrofoam box, plastic fork and tiny piece of napkin.

At first peek, I assumed the $6 gyro was overpriced for what I would be served. Wrong. This pita had some weight to it and it was chock full of piles of meat, onions, tomatoes, parsley and, most importantly, the Greek staple of tzatziki sauce.

My hefty gyro

Thankfully, I ate the meal in the privacy of my own home. That scrap of paper towel and plastic fork were not going to cut it. Chucks fell out of pita when I picked it up and sauce was running everywhere. A metal fork and at least three napkins were needed for this job.

After all the work, the gyro was disappointing. The chicken wasn’t great – it almost had a peanut-like taste to it. The cucumber sauce didn’t have any flavor. The rest of it was OK but some raw onions, cut up tomatoes and cold pita do not make for a satisfying meal.

I would give Mediterranean Cuisine another shot but I would not make any substitutions. And I would ask for more napkins.

Deliciousness: 1/5 plates

Price: 3/5 plates

Speed: 3/5 plates

Authenticity/Originality: 4/5 plates

OVERALL: 2/5 plates

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