There are better falafel balls in Philly - perhaps even two blocks away at Mama's Vegetarian.

But Crisp, a new Center City branch of the New York chain, still manages something notable. It gives the falafel a chance at going mainstream by putting those crisp little Israeli chickpea fritters into international poses - with Greek yogurt; with guacamole and corn salsa; with African peanut sauce; with goat cheese and arugula.

The most intriguing bet may be Crisp's falafel "burger," a patty-shaped disc that has a familiar feel between the buns, but with an extra crunch that I'm starting to crave. Smother it in a spoonful of cumin-scented veggie chili and a slice of melting cheese, and it's good enough to become an occasional, healthier substitute for the meaty real thing.

- Craig LaBan
Chili and cheese falafel "burger," $6.95, Crisp, 32 S. 18th St., Philadelphia; 267-324-3936;; also @CrispPhilly.