Liba Falafel Jazzes up Sweet Potato Fries with Harissa and Raita

Liba Falafel Jazzes up Sweet Potato Fries with Harissa and Raita


Owner Gail Lillian dives into The Love Boat, sweet potato fries with falafel bits, harissa, and raita.

Liba Falafel loads up fries in a crazy-good way. Have at them.

Food trucks are everywhere. New ones seem big on attitude, supplementing the old guard’s emphasis on unique takes on familiar dishes. With such an abundance, it’s no surprise that one of the originals, Liba Falafel, has expanded its operation to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

The Uptown location, which opened in July, quickly became a lunch hot spot. Second-level seating overlooks the downstairs, a fun layout that finds the crowded communal atmosphere of a food truck tucked inside, between exposed brick walls. Expect lines out the door and longer lines surrounding a much-talked-about toppings bar filled with pickled apples, Moroccan carrot salad, and braised fennel and pear with tangerines.

There’s no doubt the toppings bar is worth the visit alone, but the unsung hero of the menu is The Love Boat ($7). A pile of sweet potato fries layered with smashed falafel, harissa, and raita, it embodies the food-truck spirit and innovation that spawned the currently overgrown trend.

A fork for french fries is normally a food faux pas, but not for The Love Boat, because a fork is the most efficient way to devour every last bite. The crispy fries remain so until the last bite. That’s tough enough for naked sweet potato fries, even harder when the thin strips are dressed in creamy raita and spicy harissa. The sauces balance each other nicely; the yogurt-based raita cools the heat from the chili paste without extinguishing it. The falafel recalls the broken pieces left to linger in the fryer’s basket, adding crunch and a little extra spice to each bite.

And just when you think it can’t get any better, you uncover the final layer, the last dregs of everything that’s fallen through the fries’ dark orange cracks, a graveyard of forgotten bits. You turn that fork into a spoon, shoveling away the crumbled ruins of the magnificent dish you just laid waste to.

—Matthew Craggs