Photos by Asia Morris.
The rumor is true: the wait, and oftentimes the line, at The HipPea is long. So although you can’t depend on getting in and out of the joint quickly, you can at least depend on leaving satisfied, with your belly healthfully full of falafel made and served by the owners in their own unique way.
This is the first eatery and business Christian Trochez and Vered Azari have opened together, Trochez said. The two are partners in both business and in life, and each brings something to the table that has so far made The HipPea a success since it celebrated its soft opening five months ago.
Trochez, who has a background in business, said that when he tasted Azari’s grandmother’s falafel recipe, he knew it had potential. The recipe, which is Egyptian—served Israeli-style—is gluten-free and vegan, made with chickpeas, herbs and spices, its green color emanating mostly from the parsley.
“[I] pushed her to take this opportunity to introduce the taste of how authentic falafel should be[...],” said Trochez.
The falafel at the HipPea is made fresh to order, including the pita, so if you’re the sixth consecutive customer to request, say, the Falafel Pita Pocket, it may take a little longer than expected to get the goods. It’s absolutely worth the 15-to 20-minute wait, but it’s a good idea to plan ahead if you have limited time.
Trochez or Azari will likely hand you a sample of the eatery’s falafel. You might stare skeptically for a moment at the fried brown ball now resting in the palm of your hand, meant to assuage your impatience. But, one bite later, through the perfectly crunchy encasing to the bright green mix inside, you’re hooked.
“[...]We are in a 140-square-foot place, [so] it can take a bit longer,” said Trochez. “We wanted to do it Israeli-style, which is like a stand or shack, but we expanded the concept around chickpea. [That’s] why we do our own falafel, hummus, chickpea chocolate chip vegan gluten-free cookie, whole chickpeas in salads and that is why we came up with the name The HipPea.”
“We could have not chosen a better place to start than in Retro Row,” continued Trochez. “The community, [neighboring businesses] and everyone else have been very welcoming and supportive.”
Seating is also sparse, as the HipPea occupies one of the tiny spaces next to the Art Theatre on Fourth Street and has an equally small patio. But when you pick up your food, know that you’re only several short blocks away from Bixby Park, where you can continue toward a view of the ocean, sit and watch the brave souls landing kickflips at the skatepark, or simply have a seat at one of the picnic tables to enjoy the outdoor weather during your meal.
Biting into your falafel under a pine tree with only a few flies to swat and a brave rodent as brief company, sure beats the doldrum office lunch any day.
For more information about the Hippea, visit the Facebook page here.
The HipPea is located at 2023 East Fourth Street.