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Hummus - SF Dish of the Month July 2013

The SF Dish of the Month for June 2013 is hummus!

The goal of Dish of the Month is to collectively try as many versions of hummus as possible during the month of July! So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

For those who regularly eat hummus in the Bay Area, hopefully this project can lead to a new favorite, and for those who don't usually seek it out, hopefully this will be an excuse to go out and try some!

Here's a link to the vote: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/907335

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  1. Old Jerusalem has a variation called mossabaha that's the best I've had in a restaurant around here.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Best in what way?

      Always interested in what qualities are important for folks (in our family of four--with two grown kids who have lived/traveled in the Middle East, eating the "real" thing--there are no two with the same criteria for what makes great hummus.)

      1. re: sundeck sue

        I wish I'd known, I almost bought some at Oasis yesterday when I was buying fetas for cheese of the month (did you know Chowhound has a cheese board with a cheese of the month discussion?)

        Yes, there are lots of variations and preferences. Some people like it thick and/or chunky, some people like it smooth and almost runny. More or less tahini. More or less garlic. More or less lemon. Etc.!!!!

        1. re: sundeck sue

          More tahina, oil, and lemon, plus hot pepper for zing, made very creamy but then they add whole chickpeas for texture, and serve it warm.

          1. re: sundeck sue

            Fully agree.

            I turn out to be a fan of Israli style not .... what's the other kind that lighter and fluffier, arab style? .... so I love Oren's in PA. My GF disagrees, says it's too heavy and she likes the other style.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Old J-m hummus is amazing. I totally agree with Robert that it's the best I've had in the Bay Area.

          3. I'm glad to see a Middle Eastern entry for DOTM! As a bonus, this is also an opportunity for us to document which places have housemade, or at least good quality, pita.

            In hummus reports, something I'd be interested to hear about is the level of smoothness and garlic use-- upon not tasting garlic at a few places, I asked the owner of Palmyra about his exclusion of garlic. He said that garlic breath was fine at home, but not in a restaurant.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hyperbowler

              My favorite is the one at Arabian Nights in the Mission. Smooth, creamy - almost silky - but not too runny, drizzled with olive oil, garlicky, and very fresh tasting.

              1. re: hyperbowler

                and extra points if they serve a quality whole-wheat pita.

                1. re: escargot3

                  my kids would call the latter a contradiction in terms! :) but since i DO buy/order whole-wheat pita, I'd be interested in whose whole-wheat (and white) ARE quality.

              2. Hummus isn't really something SF does exceptionally well, in my opinon, but Arabian Nights, Old Jerusalem and (sometimes) Yumma's are all good versions.

                For store bought, there's a Southern California company called Jericho that produces a great product. It looks like a Sabra knockoff so I was surprised how good it is.

                Hamati Pita on the other hand is as good as it gets, and would make any hummus better.

                10 Replies
                1. re: sugartoof

                  I'm also a fan of the hummus at Old Jerusalem. The Middle Eastern store a few doors down (Samiramis Imports) seems to have a decent amount of brands I have never heard of nor tried. That's something I should take care of in the future.

                  However, my favorite hummus I can buy to take home is from R Image Market (25th/Folsom). It's delicious and I don't buy anything else these days. The texture is fantastic and it's one of my favorite I've had in the Bay Area. It could use a little more heat but that's easily solved with a dash of habanero olive oil.

                  1. re: trampoline

                    R-Image Market is a new one to me. Apparently it's a favorite of Jennifer Siebel Newsom and she recommends the falafel.

                    What about the texture makes it fantastic to you? Silky, chunky . . .

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Ah, I forgot about that article! That's how I found it in my neighborhood. The falalfel wraps are ENORMOUS! I'm generally only a fan of freshly fried falafel but for some reason, I'm drawn to the wraps. It's also another quick option near me that isn't a taco or burrito, so points on that.

                      re: the texture. It's silky smooth and not too stiff when dipping chips and pita into it. I'm not a huge fan of chunky, dense hummus so this was a treat once I had it. I'm a huge fan of their hummus paired with the Have'A corn chips.

                      They also have dolmas, baba ganoush and other prepared foods I haven't got around to trying yet.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          I'm pretty sure it's not in-house but at an offsite facility since it's a corner store and sandwich shop. I'm pretty certain they only sell it at that store and it carries the owner's name. I can inquire the next time I stop in.

                    2. re: trampoline

                      I've been by R Image Market a million times, and this discussion gave me a reason to check it out. Cool.

                      Their hummus appears to be made in house. Got a tub of it and there is no other branding, just their own minimal label (no ingredient list, nutritional info, or much of anything).

                      It is very heavy on the tahini, presumably at the expense of garbonzos which are practically absent, with a nice cayenne kick. The texture is very smooth, almost liquid, with a high oil content. By itself its a bit heavy on the tahini flavor and aroma for my tastes, but it really works well in their felafel wrap.

                      1. re: BernalKC

                        " The texture is very smooth, almost liquid, with a high oil content."

                        In trying to find pictures, that's exactly what they seemed to show. I couldn't tell if I was looking at their hummus.

                        Mixing the too, or having a looser tahini makes sense for a sandwich topping. Is it thick enough to use as a dip/spread?

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Plenty of dips are more liquid than this, so sure. Its just looser, closer to liquid, than what I'm used to with hummus. I snarfed down my tub of the hummus with carrot slices and corn chips, no problem! Its smooth like Oren's, much smoother and silkier in both cases than the store brands I've tried including Haig's. But compared to Oren's, R's has a higher oil content and is looser. Definitely a good mix in ingredient for sandwiches and wraps.

                          1. re: BernalKC

                            You're right, but Hummus is Hummus. Using it as chip and vegetable dip is a modern habit. I'm sure that suits some preferences though.

                        2. re: BernalKC

                          Thanks for doing a far better description of their hummus than I ever could. :-)

                    3. Oren's Hummus has to be part of this conversation. What stands out in my experience is how creamy it is, silky. I also like the pita. I have not been back in a while, so now I have a good reason to return.

                      A work colleague suggests that Oren's is a specifically Israeli style of hummus. I'd be interested to learn more about regional and ethnic variations.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: BernalKC

                        This is my favorite too. So creamy and silky. DH would agree that it's Israeli-style hummus, though I don't know what makes it different. We're at Oren's probably once a month, with our standard order being two classic hummus, a falafel add-on, a chicken skewer add-on, and whole wheat pita.

                        1. re: BernalKC

                          No real major regional or ethnic differences exist, it's just that certain regions are more forgiving, and have access to different additives. In general, Israeli style will be creamier, and thicker, served with fresh warm pita... but that should be the case region wide and what should just be considered as "good". Lebanese tend to make a thinner version, but it's not really a regional thing. Tahini on the other hand is a little more controversial.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            Interesting you mention additives. The Israeli hummus I've seen in magazine pictures seems to have plenty added -- pools of olive oil, hot sauce and other things. Is that because it's bland? I have to admit I'm not a fan of Oren's. Though I like the texture, I prefer more (some?) garlic.

                            1. re: Glencora

                              Traditional prep is olive oil and usually a sprinkle of spice in the center.

                              There's definitely regions that used different mix ins (even meat), but most of it's relatively new, in an attempt to modernize, and elevate the dish. The Israeli places are more prone to "gourmet" concepts, going as far as different flavored falafel balls, or the extended condiment options that everyone's adopting. It's a lot like the wheat pitas, that came along around the time hummus became popular in the US.

                              Garlic is more of a Babaganoush/Eggplant spread thing.

                          2. re: BernalKC

                            The other great Israeli hummus place besides Oren's in the South Bay is Falafel Stop in Sunnyvale. The hummus and pita are similar in style to Oren's, though I like the pita much better at Falafel Stop, and the hummus a little better at Oren's. Falafel Stop's Israeli-style falafel is unequaled in South Bay, so that's what I nearly always get there. but the hummus is very worthy.


                            1. re: mdg

                              We tried Falafel Stop recently. It's as different from Oren's as an Israeli falafel place could be. The falafel is unique in my experience, much lighter in color. I was going to ask them about it, but it got really crowded. I liked it. I also liked the eggplant in pita combo of a bunch of things. Their pita bread is clearly better than Oren's for me, a much nicer texture.

                              I can't compare the hummus, because we got it as part of the hummus plate, so it was mixed with all sorts of other things. Next time, I'll get something more along the lines of straight hummus.

                              The menu is very limited. Don't go there looking for anything other than falafel, hummus, eggplant and very little more.

                              Unfortunately for me, this place has a lot of cold ingredients in the food, unlike Oren's where nothing is refrigerator cold and lots of things are hot. I don't like cold food, so my meal over all at Falafel Stop didn't really hit the spot, even if I liked aspects of it.

                              1. re: maigre

                                I re-ordered the hummus plate at Falafel Stop yesterday to refresh my memory. It's a smooth, creamy, not-too-garlicky-or-lemony hummus. This goes well in the plate where the fresh and pickled vegetables, tahini, and other condiments provide both complementary flavors and textural contrast.

                                If you don't like cold food then that can be an issue here. Personally I love the play of the ingredients, both in the falafel sandwich and the hummus plate.

                                The falafel is Israeli style - the light color comes from being all chick peas, no fava beans, and not being overfried like you can get at Oren's. Oren's has great hummus but I don't like the falafel at all.

                                It will still be hard for me to order anything but the falafel sandwich here, but the hummus and the sabich are both very worthy indeed.


                          3. Even though there's no longer a deli in the Richmond, Haig's is still making hummus for sale via other stores--and I think theirs is the best store-bought around.

                            I generally pick it up @ Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market.

                            Feel the same re their baba ganoush.

                            Perfect texture (smooth), good/smooth garlic flavor, a depth and balance that I don't find in Sabra et. al.

                            And it's local.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sundeck sue

                              I agree about Haig's Hummus. It's my favorite store bought hummus. I always get the spicy version. There is some slight variability in batches I have noticed but it's always good. It has a good blend of spices and I really like the good dose of coriander they use.

                              1. re: Ridge

                                Thumbs up on Haig's for me too. I just get the regular one. I love the amount of lemon they use. Nice and tangy.

                            2. Store-bought ones all taste meh to me, probably because I make it at home all the time and use more tahina and garlic than they do.

                              The one exception is Sheba "Ethiopian hummus," which is not really hummus at all, but shiro wot, made from chickpea flour with lemon and spices, no tahina.

                              1. I tried the hummus last night at Park Gyros in the Sunset-corner of 9th and Lincoln. It was thick w a slightly grainy texture and not much tahini or lemon. Served w warm pita, but there was a lot of hummus compared to the amount of bread. I asked whether they make it in-house and did not get a clear answer. I suspect no, but could be wrong. Overall not bad, but in the future ill stick to the gyros here which I like.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  Here's a picture of the hummus at Park Gyros

                                2. Amba in Monclair...Israeli owned and operated, so that's the style.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Rapini

                                    I am SO not a fan of Amba's hummus (thumbs down re flavor & texture)--or pretty much anything else they make.....

                                    1. re: Rapini

                                      We are the opposite -- it is our favorite right now. Especially with the warm mushrooms on top.

                                      1. re: The Dive

                                        Maybe time for me to give it another try!

                                        1. re: sundeck sue

                                          I admit that we have never gotten the plain version -- only the warmed version with the mushrooms or eggplant added.

                                          1. re: sundeck sue

                                            i haven't been in several months, but the last visit had excellent hummus pretty smooth and quite garlic-y (which i like)

                                            Amba has been inconsistent for me with big ups and downs since they opened. this is as a whole, not just hummus. about all of my visits in 2011 were ho-hum with bland hummus and often dry pitas. since early 2012 seems like they've had an upswing overall or at least consistently good when i've visited.

                                            1. re: drewskiSF

                                              Good food but their service is so atrocious I'll never go back.

                                      2. I like the hummus from The Hummus Guy who sells at the Sonoma Farmer's Market on Friday morning. Plus, I adore his lemon pita chips (guilty pleasure, I shudder to think how many calories they have). He may sell at other Farmer's Markets.

                                        But the best is home made!

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: dkenworthy

                                          Is it the same guy who's at Alemany on Sat AM? I'm so-so re his hummus (good enough to get a sample!). Chips are good stuff.

                                          1. re: dkenworthy

                                            Those lemon pita chips are a guilty pleasure of mine, too.

                                            1. re: dkenworthy

                                              those chips are awesome (Alemany) and they deal them out hoping to hook people. so far i've resisted. they're fantastic.

                                              1. re: dkenworthy

                                                He sells at the Santa Rosa Market (Veteran's Bldg) too. I bought the lemon chips once and managed to eat them in 3 days!

                                                1. re: dkenworthy

                                                  I've found all the hummus I've tried from the Hummus Guy (at Heart of the City FM on Wednesdays) to be quite good. Also has garlicky-spicy olives (both black and green), tsatsiki, and INCREDIBLE harissa. Seriously, if you love some heat, this stuff is awesome, and it keeps forever. They are heavy-handed with the samples whenever I've seen them, so you can basically taste their whole portfolio. I do agree that homemade is best, but The Hummus Guy does a fine job.

                                                2. Whoever the guys who sell at JLS farmer's market are, they have great hummus. Habanero flavor is my favorite. They also have good baba ghanoush and tomato basil spread, but mainly lots of flavors of hummus. Always swamped and selling out quickly.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                    1. re: hungree

                                                      probably an anamoly when i encounter hummus heaven 2 years ago. the hummus had a nice taste and texture.. however
                                                      it was very oily and salty
                                                      -experienced woosiness afterwards.

                                                      also was told by the vendor the hummus would last 30 days in the referigerator, mold started to form after 10 days, so all of it was tossed. didn't buy much hummus after that.

                                                      1. re: shanghaikid

                                                        you know what, I've noticed the oily/saltiness too I'm glad it's not me. was actually thinking of finding a new hummus vendor based on this...

                                                        1. re: hungree

                                                          i tried the hummus guy once in s.f. somewhere (alemany?), fantastic hummus. think he just does marin and sonoma countries.

                                                          pita chips addictive too.

                                                    2. I don't usually like hummus, but I make an exception at Palmyra on Haight because it's so good.

                                                      1. I lived near Old Jerusalem for years and used to go there some, but haven't in the years since I left. I'll have to do that again.

                                                        I'm also big Oren's fan. I like most all of their food quite a bit. It feels sort of like home cooking, simple and tasty with good ingredients. The creamy texture of the hummus works great for me, too. Ask for the lemon juice/garlic condiment to go along with it if you want more of those flavors. I always do. It's a free side.

                                                        They have thick, fresh whole wheat pita bread, but I don't usually eat much of it. I've never eaten any pita that I particularly care for, though.

                                                        Thanks for the Falafel Stop pointer. I'll check it out soon.

                                                        1. If you're willing to venture over to Oakland, Amba in Montclair Village on Moraga has fantastic hummus. Seriously. Fantastic. They are closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays so check the calendar before you go. It's the only place I like to eat in Montclair Village, which is lacking in good restaurants for some reason.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: merylnet

                                                            Good to know. Montclair Village has (in the almost 50 years my family lived in Montclair) never had a better-than-average restaurant, which seems odd to me since it's much the same demographic as Piedmont Ave. or Rockridge or Park Blvd., all of which have better restaurants.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              True dat...One of life's abiding mysteries is why Montclair can't support one decent restaurant.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                The neighborhoods around Rockridge and Piedmont Ave. are far more densely populated than Montclair.

                                                                The number of people who live within a 5-10 minute drive of Rockridge and Piedmont Ave. is also much higher.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Montclair Village has a captive audience of the people who actually live in Montclair, though. And the Village draws from parts of Rockridge, Piedmont Pines, Glenview and other neighborhoods that border on Hwy 13 as well. It's big enough to support a number of mediocre restaurants, there could just as easily be good ones! Why isn't Montclair Bistro (for example) better? Or Italian Colors?

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    I think the captive audience is a vicious cycle. People who don't live in Montclair don't go to restaurants there, so the restaurants don't have to spend the extra time and money to compete with Rockridge restaurants on quality, so people who don't live in Montclair don't go to restaurants there ...

                                                            2. The hummus at Troya on Clement has a strong lemon juice flavor. Unlike Sabra's "Luscious Lemon Hummus," the lemon flavor tastes like it's from actual lemons. The chickpea flavor is very present, but the tahini is subtle. This is fine baseline hummus, but not that exciting.

                                                              I got it as part of a combo platter including muhummara and a yogurt dip, and it was served with thin pocket pita. The pita was served warm, but was indistinguishable from supermarket pita.

                                                              1. I really like the hummus topped with lamb or beef shawarma at Zaki's Kabob House in Albany. It's listed as a starter, but with some extra pita it's a full meal in itself.

                                                                1. I just had lunch from Oasis on Telegraph in Oakland, I love this place! I just found out about it from a co worker- and our office had take out from there today. I had a veggie plate with hummus among other things- the hummus was fine- I certainly wouldn't go back just for that. I like garlic in my hummus, but the consistency was the way I like it, thick, but not too thick, and nice tahini to chick pea balance. I will be back to Oasis!

                                                                  1. Haight Street Market has a good selection of Hummuses mentioned in this thread. There were others brands, but I arbitrarily chose 4 brands because I'd never had them before and they started with the letter "H. I ate them on Hamati white pita bread. Here's how they fared:

                                                                    + Haight st. market: lemon acidic, light cumin, wet and loose but not fully integrated and silky.
                                                                    + Haig's (55% calories from fat, no olive oil): coriander, citrusy, wet paste, garlic (flavor reminiscent of fried or dried garlic)
                                                                    + Hummus guy: a bit nutty, dryish paste, not as acidic as Haight St. Market, but the acid isn't especially citrusy. Flavor neutral overall, or at least it can't stand up to the bread. The dryness comes from not enough fat--- 40% compared to 55% or more of calories in the other labeled hummuses.

                                                                    All were acceptable and much better than your average store bought hummus. None were grainy, but I didn't care for Hummus Guy's texture. Haig's was my favorite. The citrusy notes of the coriander elevate its other ingredients, but without too much acid. I liked this better than the hummus I had at Troya a few days back.

                                                                    The last one I tried used hummus ingredients as a medium for other flavors.

                                                                    + Hope organic thai curry hummus (62% calories from fat): coconut. lime juice, jalapenos. A little sweet (thanks, according to the label, to agave nectar).
                                                                    If ever an opportunity to use lemongrass was missed, it was here. Could have used some more herbaceousness, ginger, or coriander too. Overall, it's ok and a reminder that vegans have an increasing number of choices. It's still not as enjoyable as Haig's or Haight Street Market's hummus or an actual curry at an Americanized Thai restaurant.

                                                                    Someone should check out Royal Market & Bakery. Their housemade hummus was really good earlier this year.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                      I was at the store and saw the Hummus guy and decided the give it a try. I wish I had remembered your review. I agree it's pretty weak hummus. I found the texture pasty and unpleasant and it didn't have much flavor. Definitely needed more lemon juice. Next time I will stick with the Haig's which is what I usually get.

                                                                      I also make Hummus at home quite a bit. I find the results can very greatly depending on the brand of chickpeas and the tahini. I have gotten best results with imported Italian chickpeas from Berkely Bowl and Yoyva tahini.

                                                                    2. I ate at Old Jerusalem for dinner, and tried the hummus with shish taouk (skewered grilled chicken). Also had some of a shawarma sandwich, and the Arabic salad.

                                                                      The salad was a bit disappointing since the tomatoes were underripe and not very flavorful. We also had to add salt, pepper and more oil, which perhaps was the intention so that is OK.

                                                                      The shish taouk and hummus were excellent. The hummus is thick and very smooth, drizzled w/ olive oil. I believe it's different than the one Robert Lauriston describes, which is a different menu item. It didn't have a ton of tahini or lemon flavor (I didn't taste lemon at all, really). The chicken was tender and really good as well. Grilled veggies were practically non-existent.

                                                                      The shawarma, which I've had several times before, was excellent as usual, with pickled veggies and tahini.

                                                                      The food here is really quite good, and I should go here more often!

                                                                      1. Another hummus contender comes from Baladie Cafe. To me, their best dish is their schwarma wrap, but everything there is good, so in the name of DOTM research I varied my order. I ordered a falafel wrap and a side of hummus. Their falafel wrap does not feature the hummus very much at all, so I can't comment on how it works as an ingredient. The falafel was fine, and you'd get a better sense of their falafel quality eating the pocket version instead of the wrap, but I'm reminded why I always order the schwarma...

                                                                        The hummus by itself is really tasty, very much to my liking. The tahini flavor is clearly present, but not too strong. Nice lemony acidity. Just the right amount of oiliness - and they are clearly using a good pungent olive oil. I also picked up a subtle pepper kick, and its not noticeably salty even though I'm sure there's plenty in there. The texture is not especially silky, a la Oren's, but its not an issue for me. They topped the take-home serving with a dollop of some sort of cucumber salad/salsa with lots of minced garlic that was a nice touch. Unlike store-bought hummuses, they can use a more volatile EVOO, fresh lemon juice, and not worry about emulsifiers at all. Its good fresh hummus and the flavors really pop.

                                                                        1. Been out of town so no hummus tastings this month.

                                                                          Surprised to see no mention of Good Friikin Chicken on Mission at 29th. When we returned from 3 weeks in Syria a couple of years ago, where we gorged on the wonderful silky hummus, GFC, run by Jordanians, I believe, had the closest hummus to what we had in Syria. Delicious, creamy, very light on cumin (or maybe totally free of cumin which overpowers so many American-flavor versions). Their rotisserie chicken is also superb, maybe the best chicken in the city (including Zuni), juicy, lots of Syria/Jordan spices. Comes with a typical spiced flat bread from the region and a lovely lemony simple salad. Maybe the most authentic restaurant from this part of the middle-east

                                                                          Old Jerusalem, as I recall, also had a good hummus. Never tried Oren's, but it looked very good when we walked by it to a Sichuan chowdown in Palo Alto.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                            I ate at Goood Frickin Chicken recently, though I did not have the hummus. The chicken shawarma comes with garlic sauce, which I like a lot, and it's a tasty sandwich. Definitely a good place to check out, and I'll try to sample the hummus there soon.

                                                                            1. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                              Thanks for the tip--- I would not have come here otherwise!

                                                                              The hummus has well integrated flavors, is creamy, and lacks any grittiness. There's a good balance of tahini and chickpeas flavor and an acidity that had the fresh edge of lemon juice but without the flavor. It is interspersed with tiny particles with the crunch and resistance of garlic, but not the accompanying taste. I found the dried herbs on the bread to be a distraction, so I ate this with a spoon instead and ate the bread by itself.

                                                                              I couldn't taste or see any spices, so I think you're right that it doesn't have any cumin. I'm starting to see those more as a way of covering up lousy technique/ingredients, so good riddance!

                                                                              It's topped with an olive oil with an uncanny resemblance to Kirkland brand extra virgin.

                                                                              1. The Jerusalem Grill and Bar, somewhat oddly named, is a glatt kosher restaurant in an unlikely location on Winchester Blvd in Campbell, It has pretty spectacular Israeli style hummus with
                                                                                the additional option of being served with sauteed mushrooms on top.. .a true Middle Eastern touch. It is creamy and a bit stiff, keeping its form after being scooped up by a piece of what is also pretty good pita.


                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Ken Hoffman

                                                                                  I see on their menu that they have sabich sandwiches, which you don't see on menus very much around here. Anyone tried them?

                                                                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                    I haven't been to the Jerusalem Grill and Bar, which I really should fix. But nearby, I think the sabich sandwich at Falafel Stop in Sunnyvale is excellent.


                                                                                    1. re: mdg

                                                                                      And Jerusalem Grill in Campbell has kubbeh soup (a kurdish meat dumpling in soup) that's very popular in Israel by way of Kurdish/Iraqi Jews, but which you never find here.

                                                                                2. I sampled a bunch of hummus in the South Bay / Peninsula. Here's the run-down:

                                                                                  Here's the ground beef hummus plate at Oren's Hummus Shop in Palo Alto:

                                                                                  At Oren's, the owner strives to replicate the hummus of Abu Hassan, an Arab purveyor of hummus in Jaffa. To me, the hummus was very bland. I couldn't taste the garlic or lemon juice. It seemed to provide mostly texture: it's very thick and slightly gritty. The spiced ground beef was great, and the white pita bread was very good - nice and fluffy. But the hummus actually seemed to get in the way of the other flavors on the plate, and I found the grittiness to be off-putting.

                                                                                  The hummus at DishDash in Sunnyvale is excellent:
                                                                                  Smooth, heavy on the garlic, and supported by the acidity of the lemon juice. It has a complex flavor that is very addictive. The pita bread is passable. They comped me the hummus: I'm a regular, and they comp me something about once a year.

                                                                                  At Mediterranean Wraps on California Ave in Palo Alto, the hummus was very good:
                                                                                  It's heavy on the tahini, with the garlic and lemon juice as the supporting cast. The texture is smooth but thick: not quite as silky as the hummus at Dishdash. The pita bread that comes with it is lame: thin and tough.

                                                                                  At Taxim in Palo Alto, the hummus is very good:
                                                                                  It's smooth and silky, with bits of chopped beans thrown in, which makes for a great texture. It tastes like they add pureed olives (or maybe olive juice) for a tangy kick, which is backed up with garlic. The bread is very good; I don't know if they make it to order, but it comes out hot and puffy.

                                                                                  At the Falafel Stop in Sunnyvale, the hummus has a nice strong flavor of tahini and lemon juice, with a silky texture; it's very good:
                                                                                  The pita bread is the best yet, and better than Oren's: super fluffy, dense, and hot.

                                                                                  At Mediterranean Grill House in Mountain View, they use too much lemon juice; it's sour and astringent. Not recommended:
                                                                                  And the pita bread is sub-par.

                                                                                  Overall: a lot of tasty hummus, and DishDash had the most complexity and depth.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: ssfire

                                                                                    I tried the hummus at DishDash's Milpitas location.

                                                                                    It looked similar to the Sunnyvale version with some pickles, roasted garlic, olives, and whole chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil.

                                                                                    This was smooth and creamy with some lemon juice acidity, but barely discernible garlic. You can taste the tahini.

                                                                                    Pita comes to the table when you're seated with some za'atar oil dip. As you mention, nothing special about the pita.

                                                                                  2. Dateline: July 1, 2013

                                                                                    Dropped into Albayk in San Mateo, following the lead in this thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869567 . I believe the owner is Lebanese or from elsewhere in the Levant.

                                                                                    The hummus was as satiny as promised, dressed with a slosh of additional olive oil and a few whole chickpeas. Very fine and silky on the palate, the flavor was similarly finessed and singular in expression. No hint of garlic nor lemon, the taste was a meld of nuttiness and good quality chickpeas enriched with flavorful olive oil. I was glad that I had ordered a side of falafel that comes with a tahini dipping sauce to give me a baseline for comparing the unroasted sesame paste influence. I liked the hummus very much, but it may be too simple for some.

                                                                                    The promised housebaked pita hasn't happened here yet. The warm pita bread was fresh, but the thin and sandpapery type, shown here.

                                                                                    1. foodeye mentions the hummus at the newly opened Bouli Bar here,

                                                                                      Has anyone else tried the hummus and pita bread?

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                        I had the hummus at the orinal boulette's, before this topic I really liked the texture, but I did add garlic.

                                                                                      2. Got the hummus at Gulzaar Halaal in San Jose last night.

                                                                                        The hummus comes with a basket of warm pita bread wedges and is topped with a heavy sprinkle of sumac and some pepper powder along with a heavy drizzle of olive oil.

                                                                                        It's thick and tangy and slightly spicy which was different for me. The pita is pretty thin and the same as what they use for their wraps.

                                                                                        They are on Ramadaan hours until 8/7 so no lunch and 4:30-8:30pm only. Check the website for more details, if you're thinking of visiting in the next 2 weeks.

                                                                                        Gulzaar Halaal Restaurant & Bakery
                                                                                        1880 West San Carlos Street San Jose, CA

                                                                                        1. Dateline: July 14, 2013 - Talmage Store

                                                                                          The Talmage Store is located in Ukiah, just outside the gates of the City of 10,000 Buddhas, and about 20 miles north of the boundary of the SF Bay Area board. The young woman who waited on me at this convenience store will start college at USF this fall. She promised that I would love her mom's hummus and I did. Here's what I posted on the California board:

                                                                                          "The hummus was a bit darker in hue than most and I braced myself for an excess of cumin on first taste. But no, the cumin was quite subtle showing itself as a mild smokiness in the aftertaste. Very thick and velvety in texture but still, this hummus is not entirely smooth. Intensely flavored and robust, each element was quite pronounced and concentrated. Garlic screams out, but it’s balanced by the strong taste of tahini and packed with the flavor of chickpeas. The lemon was assertive in taste but not sour. This felt like three times the typical flavor intensity crammed into a small volume. I actually added some olive oil at home to thin it out somewhat. I really loved the stuff."

                                                                                          More about the Palestinian food at the Talmage Store,

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                            Ooh that hummus looks like it's curdled.

                                                                                          2. Our Month of Hummus is behind us, but this was shared with me today to pass on to you.

                                                                                            The Church of Chickpea

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                              Read as far as Palestinians being replaced by Israeli hipsters, and couldn't read any further.....:-(

                                                                                                1. re: karenfinan

                                                                                                  Read further...you obviously missed the point where food is concerned.