When I lived in New York, my body was composed of 90% hummus. That’s because I lived close to Hummus Place on 7th Ave. and I’d go there a few times a week for lunch (see this post). And though I’ve attempted to recreate a Hummus Place meal for dinner here in California, it never hits the spot in quite the same way. Which is why, last week, I found myself seeking out a west coast alternative. First place to check out: The Hummus Bar & Grill in Burbank.
Jonathan Gold does these lunchtime chats on the LA Times website (which has the weirdest firewall ever; sometimes you can read the content for free, other times you can’t) and I like to browse them to pick through his picks. Someone in Burbank asked where to lunch and he mentioned The Hummus Bar & Grill at which point I opened a sticky note and put that on a list of places to try.
So last Monday, I hopped on the 101 and rejoiced because Alec Baldwin’s podcast that week featured Rosie O’Donnell. Man, I love Alec Baldwin’s podcast (his guests are the best, at least in my opinion: Debbie Reynolds, Patti Lupone, etc.) so this whole homophobic Tweet brouhaha is disappointing, especially since most of his guests are gay icons. And then there’s Rosie who’s such a spunky, charismatic character, it was so great to hear her life story–how she went from Star Search to turning down $150 million when she quit her talk show–even if the interview ended with her crackpot 9/11 theories.
Ok, ok, you’re here for the hummus. How was it?
The place had an authentic feel to it, even if it was in a strip mall (most good L.A. places are). There was meat cooking on a spit (for schwarma) and guys kneading dough for what I thought was house-made pita only they had packages of pita, so maybe they were rolling dough for the large crackery thing they gave me for free after this plate of pickles?
The pickles were just ok…they tasted like they came from an old jar. Dock ’em one point.
And here’s that cracker thing I was talking about.
I really liked this: the outer layer was crisp and crackly, the inner layer was soft. This was a perfect vehicle for scooping up hummus which is exactly what I ordered. I tried to recreate my typical Hummus Place order: Hummus Tahini and Israeli salad. Here’s what came out.
Frankly, I should’ve led the post with this picture because it’s so pretty (maybe more people would be reading this instead of just YOU). On food styling alone, my new West Coast Hummus place is ahead. Instead of a big wide bowl of hummus with a puddle of tahini in the middle, here the hummus is mounded like Saturn’s ring (how do they do that?) with a puddle of olive oil in the middle. And the Israeli salad was a real marvel: did they chop it in a food processor? Or did some poor soul chop all of those onions, cucumbers and tomatoes by hand?
Actually, that food processor theory is probably pretty legit (unlike Rosie’s 9/11 theory). And now I know why the Israeli salad tasted a bit like gazpacho: it basically was gazpacho with less liquid.
Which puts Hummus Place (East Coast) back in the lead; I like the texture of their salad better. Also, East Coast Hummus Place gives you what they call “hot sauce,” known in Israel as skhug. I love that stuff–cilantro and jalapenos all blended together. It gives the hummus some edge.
The hummus here was very good: airy and rich with tahini. In fact, it tasted more of tahini than it did of anything else, which may be a good thing. The jury’s still out.
All-in-all, I dig this west coast alternative. Can it replace the original? Maybe nothing can. But maybe that’s less about the quality of hummus and more about a way of life that’s impossible to replicate here on the west coast. Or maybe I just need to BMOS: bring my own skhug.
19 thoughts on “Seeking My West Coast Hummus Place: The Hummus Bar & Grill”
do you know about Sunnin? I haven’t been but people do love it
Haven’t heard of it but I’ll check it out next. Thanks!
The food at Sunnin is terrible, but the hummus has always been good. I would be curious about your opinion.
Oh that’s funny–I’m sitting here eating Trader Joe’s cilantro jalapeno hummus. I didn’t know it was an Israeli thing. I agree–love the laffa (the giant pita-like bread) and the hummus is good but has a lot of tahini. The chicken shwarma is also good but unusual–it almost seems to have curry powder on it. I’m always on the lookout for a good falafel/hummus place so if you find it, let us know!
the bread is laffa. do some cursory research before you post.
Whoa. Someone forgot their Xanax. Great post Adam.
Now that you’re in Atwater you should try Sahara in Pasadena. I’m a bit biased because it’s the first hummus I had (when I was a kid and it was called Maroosh and was in Altadena) but I love their hummus. They also have this great cabbage salad with mint. And really good shawarma.
Nothing to do with hummus, but I wanted to write to you to tell you about the word amateur in French. It has two meanings: it can mean the same as the American definition (novice, beginner) or it can mean expert, connoisseur. It is extremely confusing and you have to rely on context for the intended meaning.
I read your blog all the time and have made some amazing dishes thanks to you! Have you ever been to Carousel? There is one in Hollywood (Little Armenia) and one in Glendale. They have amazing middle eastern dips.
One of my friends got Carousel for takeout and it was, indeed, very good. I’m excited to try it in person.
Is like you leave a live of immitation and not focus sorry.
how are you my deer
Hope you find your hummus place! In the meantime, I love Here’s the Thing too and was hoping you’d find a way to comment on the Rosie interview :-)
I love humous joints for lunch. It makes me feel as if I am being “healthy”. The bread looks similar to nan.
If you are ever here in Palm Springs drive over to Cathedral City and check out Aladdin Deli http://www.yelp.com/biz/aladdin-deli-and-market-cathedral-city
Love your blog! I just wrote a post about the shakshuka I used to get at the hummus place in the east village. Yum! Have you ever had it?
If you live near Aroma, it’s more of an Israeli restaurant than an out-and-out hummus place, but it’s DYNAMITE! I feel like you would love it! All the Israeli salads and dips are homestyle and delish! :http://www.aromabakery.com/losangeles.php
If you’re willing to go a but further, my top 2 hummus places in LA are carnival in Sherman oaks (on woodman or Fulton near Ventura), & Haifa on pico (a block from Robertson)!
Where in Burbank is this location?