[UPDATE AUG 2014: Name change on awning to Falafel Damascus Gate.]
In Jerusalem, Bab al-Amoud, one of many gates to the ancient city, goes by many names. This restaurant in Bay Ridge takes at least two of these, the old Arabic above on the awning and the English "Damascus Gate" is written on their menus. For the sake of not confusing people into thinking this is a Syrian restaurant, I will use the former. The owner, originally from the Eastern part of Jerusalem (Palestine) has used the name as a reference to home.
The storefront restaurant is more spacious than it appears from the outside, with a large preparation kitchen, steam table, spit, and friers, as well as a few tables along the wall and in the back for seating. A covered woman was quietly eating in the back when I arrived, otherwise my late lunch had no dining companions.
The chicken on the spit looked very tempting, so I immediately ordered a chicken shawarma ($5, above), which is placed in a pita more in the style of a Turkish donor or Greek gyro. The meat comes very succulent and fatty, in a good way, and the pita is full of wonderfully fresh and crisp vegetables.
Although this can was made in the United States, and Vimto ($1.50, below) originated in the United Kingdom, it has most of its sales in the Arab world. The soda says "fruit flavored" but I would put the taste closer to bubble gum than anything.
Shortly after sitting down, I altered my order slightly to add a small plate of falafel ($2, below). These little guys are small and perfect, handsomely fried with a great crispy exterior while admirably mushy and green inside. If you order falafel anywhere in the world, you should never be given pieces that are already made, and I was happy that he fried them for me here. It may not be grounds for arrest, but giving someone already fried falafel in Jerusalem would most certainly be a deal breaker.
The star of the show.
I had no room to try desserts, but a separate case full of trays (above and below) displayed all the homemade sweets. Next time I will probably take a few of these good looking treats home.