Vast improvements have been made between the opening of the first Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop, in College Park, and the second, in downtown Orlando. Of course, more than three and a half years passed between the two, so you'd expect a learning curve of sorts. And as I detailed in my review of the prototype shop in September of 2013, up was really the only way to go.
I haven't been back to the Edgewater Drive location since then, but I'll assume they've made the changes that made the falafel sandwich I had at the new location so enjoyable.
And I have to say that only a week before trying the new HB, I visited my favorite falafel shop in the world, L'As du Fallafel on Rue des Rosiers in Paris.
And while Hubbly's falafel sandwich doesn't quite match the culinary experience that is a l'As du Fallafel falafel -- heck, neither do any of the other falafel shops that have popped up on that small street in the Marais -- it was good enough that I can now recommend it.
Hubbly Bubbly works on the assemblage concept. You can have your selection as a pocket sandwich, the way God intended, or as a salad or hummus bowl. you can also choose lentils, chicken or lamb and steak as your filling, but first you'd have to explain to me what you don't understand about the term "falafel shop."
A Hubbly (though not necessarily Bubbly) staff person will place your your desired ingredients into two pita halves. You'll want to include the standards -- cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes and creamy tahini -- the rest is up to you.
The person who assembled my falafel seemed to purposefully leave one chickpea fritter out of each half. Not sure why, but it did give me a chance to try it by itself. It was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside and had lots of seasoned flavor.
As a whole, it was a good sandwich. The bread was soft and not dry, and the accouterments were appropriately fresh tasting. And I appreciated the offer of more sauce in separate containers.
Staffers could use a little training on dealing with other humans. They seemed tentative and overly shy and disappeared to the back when no one was in line for a sandwich. (I had to try to get someone's attention in the back when I needed a takeout container.) And I'm not sure, but there may be a way of determining staff seniority by the number of facial piercings.
But, you know, it's downtown. I'm just glad to know there's a good falafel sandwich place again. We lost one when Cafe Annie closed. Ironically, it closed when it was announced that Hubbly Bubbly would be moving in practically next door.
On one hand, that seemed like a mean thing to do. But I have to look back to L'As du Fallafel. Its success spawned about a half dozen other falafel sandwich shops within one block. But the longest lines are still outside L'As. It might have been fun to have that block of Orange Avenue become known as the Falafel District.
Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop is at 131 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, including very late on weekends. The phone number is 407-286-5667. The website allows for online ordering.