“Portland’s Best Falafel Sandwich” Moving to Micro-Restaurant Row

Food cart ChickPeaDX will make its brick-and-mortar debut at NE Sandy’s new Zipper building.

By Tuck Woodstock May 6, 2015

Photo courtesy Natalie Sobolewski

When Yair Maidan quietly closed his NoPo falafel cart for good on May 3, his devoted fan base didn’t say goodbye—they said see you soon. That’s because ChickPeaDX will soon be reborn in the Zipper, the newest micro-restaurant row from Guerilla Development. Similar to GD’s previous venture, the Ocean, the former used car lot at Northeast 28th & Sandy will soon house a coffee shop, full bar, “punk rock nail salon,” and four tiny eateries, including Vietnamese food cart Rua and, of course, Maidan’s famous falafel. 

Declared Portland’s best falafel sandwich by Portland Monthly, ChickPeaDX’s signature sando is far from simple street food. As our own Karen Brooks writes in 25 Sandwiches That Will Change Your Life:

"To begin, a disc of grilled pita. To finish, salty drizzles of puréed mango pickles, or the chunky smolder of Maidan’s zhug—all garlic, cilantro, toasted spices, and green heat. In between, sink your teeth into layers of reverential tahini beaming lime and Sriracha; fried eggplant slivers; artful falafel spheres (shockingly light and herbaceous); pickled carrot ribbons high on orange juice and cumin; and tomato-cuke relish zapped with serranos and sumac."

Maidan plans to gradually extend ChickPeaDX’s menu to match its newly expanded quarters, eventually offering build-your-own mezza platters with fresh farmers market salads, locally sourced sides, fried cauliflower, and creamy dips made from eggplant, carrot, and, yes, chickpeas. While the cart was entirely vegan, the new location will dip into dairy territory with the addition of traditional Middle Eastern yogurt dishes. (The falafel fryer will remain vegan.)

“I really want to leave room to develop organically and see what people want,” says Maidan. “It’s the customers that will return that will determine exactly what we become.”

The ChickPeaDX crew is working towards a June soft launch, with a grand opening celebration planned once all the Zipper businesses are up and running. Hours will start off at 11 am–9 pm, with the potential to expand into late night if customers show interest.

“We’re excited to be able to take it to the next level,” Maidan says. “Now we’ll have a full kitchen, some help, more exciting food, more farmers market stuff; we can have a good time, make some really good food.” 

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