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Best Hummus in L.A.

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The Los Angeles Times recently did a hummus review, reviewing only San Fernando Valley restaurants. Everything sounded mouthwatering, but as much as I love hummus, I am not going to drive to the Valley just for a bowl of hummus.

So where can I get good hummus on the Westside or in the Beverly Center/West Hollywood area? I already know the hummus at Sunnin on Westwood Blvd. and think it's delightful, but just want to have more choices. And don't tell me about any pre-packaged hummus at Trader Joe's or the like. I'm looking for the real thing.

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  1. The sprouts vendor at the Hollywood Farmers' Market makes a very good hummus.

    1. i like the hummous at nyala on fairfax. it is a little different. it has cumin and it's not sour like others. i really like it!

      1. I'm sure this will sound weird, but I love the hummus at Newsroom Cafe. It's served as an appetizer with lots of grilled veggies and yummy flatbread

        1. If Skaf's were ever to close, then I might consider Alcazar as the best hummus in LA -- but there's absolutely no comparison. (There's also no ambiance at Skaf's, but that's never stopped me, and ambiance doesn't make the hummus taste any different.)

          The hummus at Nyala, as arifa said, is very good, though I didn't actually know it was hummus -- it doesn't look anything like regular hummus and doesn't taste like regular hummus. It comes as an amuse-gueule before the meal.

          There is a vendor at many farmers' markets (Studio City and Burbank for sure, may be the same folks at Hollywood and SM Wednesday) called Mom's Products, which sells pita, pita chips, and mezze. The roasted garlic hummus is excellent.

          1. I must take exception to your thesis that pre-packaged hummus is "not the real thing".

            Wholesome Choice in Irvine devotes an entire case just to multiple varieties of Sabra hummus, baba ganouch and combination products that are always flying off the shelf. Textures vary from creamy smooth to chunky, tanginess from spicy to mild, flavors from garlicky to nutty. IOHO this product competes favorably against the vast majority of freshly mades out there.

            But don't take our word for it, try it and see for yourself. My understanding is that at least some Sabra products are available in certain Gelson's (but not Bristol).

            And as if that were not enough, the organic fresh bakery ay Wholesome continuously rolls out all manner of flatbreads hot out of the oven to a long line of eagerly waiting (panting?) customers. Our current favorite is Sangak, a chewy, oniony, delicious concoction double the size of a placemat, but do try them all and soar beyond boring pita. Understand, there're good pita and lavosh in restaurants, but IOHO they just don't hold a candle to the tasty and exotic offerings at Wholesome.

            Don't get me wrong, we enjoy hummus when we're out, such as at Open Sesame, Zov's, Gaby's, Moishe's, they're all fine. But the convenience of a long lasting product available in large tubs to stash in the refrigerator and chomp when the urge hits you...now that's living well.

            6 Replies
            1. re: bernardo

              I couldn't agree more that Sabra's packaged hummus is as good, if not better, than most of the equivalents found in L.A. restaurants. The variety I always buy – regular with a generous sprinkling of pine nuts and olive oil – is available in large tubs at all local Costco outlets. Frankly, Sabra hummus is such a faithful constant in my home that, other than to complement a falafel, I almost never order hummus at restaurants anymore. To me, that's become like ordering a plate of cream cheese and, really, where's the bang for your buck in that?

              1. re: bernardo

                the very fact that you mention many kinds of hummus and baba gahnouj that are pre-packaged
                that are good reveals how misleading this opinion is.

                for a thousand years hummus and baba gannouj were basically made a certain and perfect way. in 10 years in america there are 38 flavors and none is authentic or edible.

                i've tried many and none comes even slightly close to a proper homemade one. sorry

                1. re: epop

                  epop, I agree with your generalization that most brands of pre-packaged hummus don't compare to homemade, and I'd even go so far as to say they are typically quite dreadful. But not Sabra's, which is the only label that both bernardo and I cited as exemplary. You said you've tried many brands, but you did not specify whether you've ever tried Sabra's. I assume then that you've never had it. I recommend giving it a shot.

                  1. re: Arthur

                    Yup, Arthur, I just have to LOL when posters trot out exceptions that prove the rule. How about stating the sample and population sizes and rating by %, decile or quartile? What we want to know is where the poster thinks Sabra falls on the totem pole of homemade hummus available to the LA CH public.

                    I admit I've probably only tried a few dozen hummus in restaurants. IMHO none of them beat the pants off of Sabra products. Opposing opinions are of course welcome.

                2. re: bernardo

                  i just bought and served sabra's hummous made with sun dried tomatos.
                  this is the first time i tried it.
                  never again.
                  the ONLY flavor that came through was that of the salt.

                  i've made do with their pine nut version before, but this was really poor. never again.

                  1. re: bernardo

                    Y'all like Sabra hummus bc its not not HEALTHY at all, made with canola oil as oppossed to olive, your not tasting fresh ingredients.

                    And I agree on Skafs and Alcazar... Sasson in Tarzana also really homemade and good.

                  2. CAFE DAHAB on Sawtelle, an Egyptian cafe and hookah bar located where LULU'S ALIBI used to be is, if not the standard, at least in the mix of the discussion.

                    True Story: A little over a year ago, a group of Israeli filmmakers from Tel Aviv had complained about the lack of "real hummus" but upon being introduced to it by Yemeni and Lebanese filmmakers, those same guys practically ate there daily. And brought tons of their expat friends to experience "the real thing."

                    http://www.cafedahab.com/menu/

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Kris P Pata

                      Okay, I finally tried Cafe Dahab. The hummus was definitely acceptable, but I much prefer the hummus at Sunnin. To me, the Sunnin hummus is more complex, more flavorful and addictive. I get cravings for the Sunnin hummus - I can't imagine having a craving for the hummus at Cafe Dahab. I also think the falafel is better at Sunnin (the falafel at Cafe Dahab was overcooked and over-browned). Plus, I love the a la carte cabbage salad at Sunnin and Cafe Dahab does not have this on the menu.

                      All in all, I just wish that there were more places to get hummus in L.A. I keep reading about these places that are springing up in New York that serve hummus and nothing but hummus. As always, we are behind the times in L.A.

                      1. re: omotosando

                        I can't imagine a restaurant dedicated to hummus.

                        Meze? Absolutely. I'd love to see a Middle Eastern small-dishes place (though most ME restaurants do a good job of meze service), minus those ubiquitous and usually mediocre kabobs.

                    2. i'm not a hummus expert, but i really like zankou chicken's hummus.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rameniac

                        Zankou's hummus is unbelievably bad - worse than supermarket hummus. I will defintely give Cafe Dahab a try. I've passed it a million times, but never thought to go in.

                        1. re: omotosando

                          it's a bit more full-flavored (and oily) than other hummus i've had, it seems. i have no real standard/experience by which to judge good or bad hummus, but it seems fine to me.

                          1. re: omotosando

                            It's probably too oily, but I've had worse elsewhere.

                        2. i like zankou's hummus better than sabras or any other supermarket brand. but as far as supermarket brands available in LA, i'd go with sabras.

                          but realistically...nothing is close to a good homemade hummus.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: junglekitte

                            This thread, nothing if not amusing y'know.

                            Several months ago it was the TJ fanatics who would sacrifice life & limb to defend their beloved TJ's hummus, or at least never let us hear the end of it. Now it's (so-called unverified and unproven) homemade and everything else is lowly "supermarket" product that pales in the face of the Zankou or other gold standard du jour.

                            What is unclear to this poster is whether the recipe for so-called homemade is really different or we're talking freshness factor alone. We all know guacamole degrades quickly after preparation. The only factors I can think of with hummus are lemon juice loosing its bite, oil separation and possibly slight changes in texture over time. I wouldn't be surprised if some restaurants simply doctor packaged with fresh ingredients and additional mixing to tailor texture. And boy, would I love to conduct a blind tasting and see whether all these hummus connoisseurs can consistently differentiate homemade from the best packaged product.

                            But I digress. So, where have all the TJ defenders gone? Maybe they think they're safe because TJ's is not really a supermarket, right? Think again blokes, your hummus is under attack as well.

                            1. re: bernardo

                              here are some of the differences:
                              1) some restaurants use canned garbanzos which imho don't taste as good as dried garbanzos that are soaked and cooked
                              2) the quality of the olive oil
                              3) the brand of the tahini that is used.
                              when i make hummus at home, i ONLY use the ONCE AGAIN brand of organic tahini that is sold at whole foods. i've used other brands in the past and for some reason, the hummus never tastes as good.

                              one of my friends gets used, unwittingly, as my blind taster. i just serve the hummus without saying anything and he will tell me "the hummus is REALLY good tonight" or he will say nothing about the hummus and complement something else being served (such as the wine).
                              100% of the time if the hummus gets the complement, it has been made with that particular brand of tahini.
                              because of this i know that the differences i taste are not all in my head.

                          2. I tried Sabra and while it is better than some of the others I still think it is
                            nothing like a homemade hummus.

                            I believe they add preservatives, which one can taste. A good hummus doesn't last, like a guacamole. and then there is the issue of the freshness of spices, whether the garbanzos are cooked or canned, the lemons vs. lemon juice, quality of olive oil.

                            they're making this stuff in big vats. but it is the work of an artist instead. i don't mean that in a snobbish sense. cooking is a delicate art.

                            and what if we had companies making hot dog flavored guacamole or spinach guacamole and so on and so forth. then defending the best of those brands.

                            in this country we often think there is an easy way out. alas, wonder bread has its defenders too. as, i suppose, it should.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: epop

                              gotta concur with epop that although sabra is better than some of the others, it has a flatter, less complex flavor than the hummous available at several of the persian restaurants around town and when i've served at parties side by side with my homemade hummous not identifying any difference in source or preparation, it is always the sabra that is left over.

                              to me, sabra lacks strong flavor notes in the olive oil, the tahini, and the lemon.

                              my best 'cheat' when i don't feel like making the hummous myself is the stuff they sell at shamshiri grill on westwood blvd.

                            2. I also love Sabra's hummus. I think it's far better than the classic variety of Mom's which is good. (Trader Joe's seems inedible compared with either Sabra's or Mom's classic.) I'm sure there are home cooks who can make better hummus than Sabra's. Sadly, it's not me. I've tried, but it's been impossible to recreate the smoothness that is so appealing in the Sabra's variety with pine nuts and a touch of hot sauce. For that I go to a small grocery shop on the west side of Fairfax (south of Melrose - near Eat a Pita). I can't remember the name, but they have Sabra products.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: abseygale

                                Funny how posters tolerate cheating on ingredients as long as the product is prepared on the premises if you will. Had to LOL recently at a bevy of apologists for canned mushrooms on Casa Bianaca's pizza. Gets a pass because the pizza is otherwise "homemade"? Gimme a break. We don't even do that in our modest kitchen at home.

                                In fact, some would no doubt be surprised to learn how many prepared (canned, bottled, dried, frozen, etc) ingredients make it into suppossedly homemade restaurant chow, especially at modestly priced establishments. Anyone who has made Thai shrimp soup and French onion soup from scratch (roasting bones) as I have realize the beaucoup labor hours involved are simply prohibitive except perhaps for the highest echelons. Now we're all willing at times to invest countless hours in preparing dishes ourselves in our own homes, understood. But c'mon folks, can we get real about all this so-called homemade from scratch puffery when it comes to restaurant chow?

                                1. re: bernardo

                                  some of us aren't so lenient with the restaurant chefs either.

                                  on a separate note i'm not saying that everything should be made from scratch. to make hummus i don't want to grow my own sesame plants and chick pea plants and then grind them myself, etc. but there is some point to a lot of the labour.

                                  some of us don't accept hummus made with sugar, preservatives, mayo, and a host of other things that get put in containers, sold at high prices, this becomes the norm, and so few know better.

                                  1. re: epop

                                    Epop, just so we can put your advice into practice, could you kindly recommend a few places we could all try that meet your high standards for fresh homemade hummus that we can contrast against packaged product? Also curious, are there numerous places around town or just a handful that meet your standards?

                                    1. re: bernardo

                                      i've heard good things from someone trustworthy about the hummus at the gypsy cafe (of all places) in westwood but can attest to the quality at:

                                      mandaloun, carousel in glendale
                                      alcazar, olympia, mirhan's in the Valley.

                                      good luck

                                      1. re: epop

                                        A while back I tried the hummus at Gypsy Cafe, which I must confess is not my idea of a pleasant dining venue. I found the hummus itself to be quite unimpressive, no better than average ... that is, unless you like your hummus flavored with hookah fumes.

                                        1. re: Arthur

                                          i guess they have a new chef that makes it mostly for himself, along with fresh bread.
                                          + if you go at off hours the place is quiet and pleasant.

                                          but later, yes, why bother

                              2. Carousel in Glendale and Maroush in Hollywood both make amazing and refreshingly fresh hummus. They both have it as a stand alone or if you dare, order the hummus with foul as an appetizer. That will leave you dying to come back for more. The Lebanese Kitchen in Pasadena makes a pretty decent hummus as well. I once tried the hummus at Whole Foods and if I felt it was prepared well, I wouldn’t mind paying the ludicrous amount they charge for it. It was very obvious it was prepared by people who knew nothing about Middle Eastern cuisine. They probably used a Martha Stuart cook book.
                                TJ's hummus fits the bill but it's no where in comparison to freshly homemade hummus made by true Middle Easterns. All these variances of hummus are ridiculous and an insult to real Middle Easterns. But I guess it's the American way so who am I to pass judgment on it :-(

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Joe

                                  OK, I'll stipulate that pre-packaged may not be authentic. But I'm not willing to stipulate that it can't be tasty, convenient, a good value and gratifying to boot.

                                  Example: We were totally put off by the arguably authentic fatty dark meat with skin attached, greasy and sometimes gristly chicken dishes in Hong Kong. Does that mean that the sanitized Americanized faux version with neat chunks of white meat prepared with little oil should be shunned in favor of the authentic version? Don't think so, different strokes, no more no less.

                                  1. re: bernardo

                                    bernardo, I again generally agree with you. Just to be clear, I don't take issue with anyone who seeks out the transcendent zenith of anything. If someone wants to search high and low for which establishments offer the finest homemade ketchup, go for it – and I hope he/she will report the results back here without delay.

                                    But I, too, object to the prejudicial notion that optimal, legitimate answers cannot sometimes (OK, all too rarely) be found on a typical supermarket's shelf. I love hummus and have been known to go on hummus binges. I've tried countless varieties and know when it's prepared properly and authentically. Yet as I said earlier, I no longer have any urge to seek it out in restaurants, mostly because I can enjoy a far less expensive version of comparable quality (i.e., Sabra's) at home with absolutely no preparation, just like the cream cheese example i provided above. I believe almost all of us have such food staples that simply fall by that wayside when we place orders at restaurants.

                                    Still, make no mistake about it: When I order falafel, the hummus and tehina better be damn good!

                                    1. re: Arthur

                                      BTW, while packaged works for hummus, baba ganoush and other eggplant concoctions come out short IMHO. Sabra's, TJ's and Cedarlane are OK but nothing to write home about. Sadaf roasted eggplant in a can is pretty tasty but a bit heavy on the oil for my taste. Anyway, being really fond of baba g, just wish I could find a packaged product worth crowing about.

                                    2. re: bernardo

                                      if the new one is tasty, natural, and most of all clean then this is an improvement over the authentic.
                                      but in an age of mediocrity, in many respects, where people are feeding you to make a dollar instead of nourishing you then one has to be careful.

                                      in the case of hummus the pre packaged isn't tasty to those of us that don't care for preservatives, fake lemon juice, cheap olive oil, etc. the guacamole example above is helpful. some foods, like salsa, can be great in a bottle. others not. like a fruit salad. or, i dare repeat, for the last time, hummus. thanks

                                  2. TJ's doesn't sell hummus, they sell "hummus dip". even they make the distinction.

                                    on a somewhat related note- i just returned from greece and turkey and was hard pressed to find hummus anywhere. the "athenos" brand tricked me.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: greengelato

                                      hummus is an arabic or levantine food, not greek or turkish. On the Maine coast one doesn't necessarily look for ceviche.

                                      1. re: greengelato

                                        "TJ's doesn't sell hummus, they sell "hummus dip". even they make the distinction."

                                        Please pardon me for sounding sarcastic but your statement is an oxymoron. Hummus, by nature, is a "dip".

                                      2. Whatever happened to the sprouts vendor at the H'wd farmers market? We looked for him this morning but no dice. Instead, we bought artichoke hummus from the pita guy -- it's adequate.

                                        1. I think very highly of Haifa's hummus on Pico Blvd. That is hands down my favorite.

                                          1. The hummus at Sunnin in Westwood is the closest to what I've had in Israel -- dense and creamy, not too garlicky.

                                            1. Wow, people seem to have a lot of favorites.

                                              I have a couple of favorites. No one seems to make it the same. But St Nicks on 3rd st has very good hummus. It's the owner’s recipe, from Egypt. Wholesome pita has some good hummus, drizzled with paprika and olive oil. Also Eat-a-Pita's hummus I really enjoy, with fresh pita chips!

                                              1. Marouch has always been my absolute favorite. But we haven't been to the Glendale places so I can't speak to those. And we'll have to try Cafe Dahab again, per Kris P Pata's rave above; we haven't been to Dahab since it was on Westwood and the wafting hookah smoke sort of wiped out our ability to taste the food. I don't love Sunnin's--it usually comes out a bit too oily for my taste, but others obviously disagree.

                                                No one's mentioned Carnival on Woodman--we've liked their hummus a lot.

                                                Magic Carpet on Pico does a good one, although I like their eggplant-based dips better.

                                                As mentioned by others, Mom's is a vendor from OC which shows up at farmers markets around town. At the Beverly Hills market this past Sunday, I was going to buy some artichoke salad but the vendor insisted I had to try his artichoke hummus instead, and in fact we did like it very much. It has a milder flavor than a number of our other favorites--less lemony, less intense, less tongue burn--which might make it less desirable for a few bites but this milder version works very well if you want to make a light meal out of hummus and pita. We'll definitely get it again.

                                                1. Elat Market prepackaged super spicy hummus is the best hummus I think I've ever had. Elat Market's on Pico just East of Robertson.

                                                  1. eilat market is persian and i went to someone's house that had it the other day and i couldn't understand how she'd enjoyed their hummus.

                                                    maybe you got a decent batch. i don't know

                                                    1. I love Persian food, but prefer Lebanese-style hummus and Wahib's in Alhambra makes a good one.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Ernie

                                                        i agree. i love the texture and it's slight emphasis on tahini. very good.

                                                      2. The best hummus I've had is at Magic Carpet, a Yemenite place on Pico west of La Cienega.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: go_bears

                                                          rip magic carpet.
                                                          it is no longer.

                                                        2. If you like hummus you should try Kettlestones Foods. I know that they only sell their stuff at farmers markets, but it is too die for. It is sooo good. My sister got me hooked on their stuff, now I can't live without it.

                                                          1. Marouch (Edgemont & Santa Monica Blvd.) in Hollywood/Silver Lake.

                                                            1. If you can't get authentic home made hummus---I like Trader Joes' hummus.

                                                              1. anyone else had the hummus at the alcove in los feliz? kinda olive-y - but i liked it. i didn't like any TJ or WF packaged versions that i've tried so far.

                                                                1. I know this thread is going on two years now and the OP would like non-San Fernando Valley recs, but my best hummus experience to date is at Hummus Bar & Grill in Tarzana. Very creamy, mild, a little umami, swirled with olive oil and some spice and herbs, and you can have it just like that or they will top it with your choice of pine nuts, sauteed mushrooms, chicken, or steak. But we usually choose the option of braised chickpeas on top. It sounds redundant but the braised chickpeas do add another subtle dimension of flavor and texture to the hummus. The flatbread is made fresh and served immediately - think of the Mexican eateries that have a dedicated fresh tortilla station - this is the same but for flatbread.

                                                                  Someone mentioned Israelis upthread - I couldn't find anyone working there who wasn't Israeli, and besides maybe four to six other patrons, we were the only non-Israelis in the place. This place is the epicenter of Little Tel Aviv. When it comes to a stamp of approval, I would consider this to be a good sign...

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/506565

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                    Sabra hummus is bland and boring to me. I prefer a more lemony hummus. It's not bad for a store packaged hummus though.

                                                                    1. re: waxfondler

                                                                      bland, boring, and SALTY.

                                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                                        Edible only by mixing lemon juice into it, which makes it gloppy and thin but cuts the salt and amps the flavour a little bit.

                                                                        It's so easy to make hummus (chickpeas, garlic, lemon, olive oil, tahini, salt, whizz whizz whizz in the food processor, there you go), I don't bother buying Sabra.

                                                                      2. re: waxfondler

                                                                        For store-bought, packaged hummus, I always vastly preferred the Miki brand over Sabra. Miki is also an Israeli brand and can be found in some of the kosher markets in Pico-Robertson.

                                                                    2. Bangkok hummus at The Bungalow Club on Melrose just west of La Brea. Its an appetizer and comes with warm pita bread. They drizzle some kind of oil and add sauteed porcini mushrooms on top.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: sumo3175

                                                                        funny - i've never liked the bungalow clubs hummus - just tastes odd to me. I go for Carnival on woodman or SUnnin on westwood.
                                                                        I know it's a fusion creation. I'm just not crazy about it. Glad you enjoy it. Different strokes.