6 U.S. restaurants take hummus to new heights
Everyone's favorite chickpea dip is being elevated to an art form, thanks to these incomparable chefs.
Michael Solomonov’s hummus is the stuff of legends. The James Beard award-winning chef has helped elevate hummus from ordinary snack item to gourmet masterpiece, crafting a careful hybrid of old-world recipes and modern-day twists that results in a dish people travel thousands of miles for.
Indeed, it's a conscious decision of his to turn hummus into a culinary art form. "Served room temperature to warm, with pita that’s right out of an oven – there’s no foie gras-truffle combination that will beat that, in my opinion,” Solomonov told New York Magazine of how he prepares his hummus.
And now, the 37-year-old Israeli-born, Pittsburgh-raised Solomonov is fresh off yet another achievement: the opening of his New York City eatery, Dizengoff, in Chelsea Market. Now, visitors and locals can enjoy Solomonov's world-famous hummus in one of the country's most prominent and vibrant urban food halls.
So rest easy. Some of the best hummuserias in the U.S. are well within your reach, and you won't believe what these chefs can do with a chickpea. In addition to Dizengoff, here are five more hummus restaurants that are elevating this humble chickpea dip to never-before-seen dimensions.
Taïm, New York City
The husband-and-wife team of Einat Admony and Stefan Nafziger have struck culinary gold in the Big Apple with their one-of-a-kind falafel, labeling Admony "Manhattan's falafel queen." But that's not where the story of Taïm (pronounced tah-eem) ends. This unassuming food truck has produced some of New York's most sought-after Mediterranean cuisine, and its hummus is no different. Served alongside Admony's legendary falafel, the dish celebrates her rich Israeli upbringing as well as years of culinary training. The combination makes for some seriously delicious hummus.
Shaya, New Orleans, La.
What makes the food at Shaya, a young and thriving Mediterranean spot in the heart of New Orleans, so alluring? Is it the eclectic fusion of Cajun staples like Louisiana shrimp and gumbo with Israeli classics like hummus and spicy shakshouka? Is it the warm, pillowy pita served right out of the oven? Or is it chef and owner Alon Shaya's homespun hospitality and old-world sensibilities? No one's really sure, but we do know one thing: Hummus is far from a side dish here.
Oren's Hummus, Palo Alto, Calif.
Tel Aviv native Oren Dobrosky has been making hummus the main event at his Silicon Valley-area shop since 2011. Now, Oren's Hummus counts on a clientele of people who want to eat healthy but don't have the time or resources to conjure up healthy meals on their own. The hummus has been dubbed "the Bay Area's best," and its owners, Dobrovsky and business partner David Cohen, say they import more than 60,000 pounds of chickpeas from Israel every year, along with tahini, pickles, olives, oils and spices. It's "authentic Israeli hummus," Dobrovsky says, and his customers know it; their Palo Alto location has been so successful that in 2014, they opened a new, fast-casual-concept location in Mountain View.
Solomonov's flagship restaurant introduced the masses to the magic of his Israel-bred cookery in 2008, and since then, Philadelphians haven't tired of his rustic pita, crispy fried halloumi and mouth-watering hummus. He even published an award-winning cookbook, also called "Zahav," that highlights his favorites from the menu, like beet salad with tehina and pomegranate-glazed salmon. Though the cookbook allows fans to create his signature dishes at home, that sure hasn't slowed the popularity and success of Zahav; on the contrary, it's one of Philadelphia's most beloved and acclaimed restaurants.
Aviva by Kameel, Atlanta
For folks who live, work and play in downtown Atlanta, it was no surprise to see Aviva by Kameel, a fast-casual Mediterranean eatery on the ground floor of a shopping mall, included near the top of a Yelp ranking for best U.S. restaurants in 2015. The place has racked up more than 250 five-star reviews on Yelp, and lines full of hungry lunch breakers frequently stretch out the door. The draw, customers say, is the reliance on fresh, wholesome ingredients, like the hummus that's served at just the right temperature. It all comes with a guarantee from the shop's owner, a charismatic man named Kameel Srouji who regularly greets customers with an enthusiastic "Hello, my sister/brother! You can have anything you want! Without you, I am nothing!" and a passionate "I love you!" It's not your average lunch break, but try it once, and you won't want to lunch anywhere else.
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