Hummus Habutke – 88 Hahashmonaim Street, Tel Aviv
So I have to admit, I have never had good hummus before this trip.
I know, right? How unfortunate. I grew up in the USA- the closest I had to real hummus was sabra. And because of this, I always thought I hated hummus. In fact, I didn’t even really like chickpeas. And I had been to Israel- but I never ate it on birthright, and I hadn’t been back sense. Hummus was an easy dip for veggies, but I always would have rather had salsa or guac. Little did I know that in the Mediterranean, people were enjoying what would turn out to be one of my favorite foods for hundreds of years.
In Israel, people eat hummus by the pound. Just kidding… but not even really. What in America is what you put on a cracker, people eat in a bowl. It kind of reminds me of how I’d go get ‘Italian food’ but really just get a whole bowl of tomato sauce, because I loved it so much. But in Israel, the people eating hummus out of a normal sized soup/cereal/salad bowl don’t look as weird as I did eating tomato sauce from a bowl. Here, everyone does it.
But let me make something clear. Eating hummus here is not like getting a tub of sabra and eating it with a spoon. It’s different for many ways:
- Hummus in the USA is processed, not fresh. There are tons of extra ingredients (classic USA move) that don’t need to be added into the food. Maybe some of them are preservatives, I don’t even know. But the more processing, the worse it tastes (in my opinion), and for sure, the less healthy it is. For example, I can’t eat added oils, and I’d be hard-pressed to find any hummus in a store that I could eat because of that. In fact, I went over a month in Israel without trying fresh hummus because I assumed it had added oil in it because I’m so used to the processed hummus from the states. On our way to Nahariya, my group stopped at a mall to get food, but since it was 4:30pm on Friday afternoon of Shabbat, almost everything was closed. Two places were open: McDonalds and a Hummus place. I walked over to Mcdonalds. Yeah. I assumed I couldn’t eat hummus, and figured I could get oatmeal from McDonalds. Thank god they didn’t have oatmeal, because when I went to talk to my counselor, she told me I’d for sure be able to eat hummus. I didn’t believe her, but when the super nice guys behind the counter assured us it was 100% oil free, I was shocked and so stoked. But when I tried the hummus, that’s when I felt like crying. I was so happy. And I LOVED it. And most importantly, I could eat it! Fresh hummus in Israel has NO added oil. Why? Because it doesn’t need it! When I order out, I just ask them to hold the olive oil that they put on top for everyone else’s order.
- Hummus in the USA is cold, but in Israel, they make it warm. Think about the way you see pizza places in every corner in New York City. Fresh pizza, being made daily. Than go somewhere in the country without as many Italians, without as many fresh pizza places. You can still buy pizza at a restaurant, or get it frozen from the door, but you can’t get it by the slice. That’s what hummus is like here, and so it’s only cold in the USA because it’s processed, packaged, and refrigerated. When you get it in Israel, it’s warm and amazing.
- The texture is different. In the US, it’s not ground up as much as Israel. Here, the hummus is much smoother. And, they add tahini to it (which I’m told they either don’t do or don’t do enough of in the US.
After trying the hummus on the way up to Nahariya, the first place I knew I wanted to try when I got back was Hummus Habutke, which is right under my work. So many times my coworkers would get hummus and I’d stare at it, thinking it looked so amazing. Well, finally, I was able to try.
And I was blown away.
Apparently in Israel, people argue about which place has the best hummus as if there is one truth, instead of opinions. I realized this when I started asking my coworkers where the best hummus places were in Tel Aviv. Some say Hummus Abu Hassan, others say Mashwashe, others will say Humus HaCarmel. I’ve tried a bunch, but I truly think this is the best one (not that my opinion matters: seriously. Who am I, as an American whose never had good hummus before a month ago, to come in and tell others what the best hummus is?? It’s just my favorite; I am not qualified to judge the best hummus). Not only is it beautiful (look at the pink and green on top!) but it’s fantastic and delicious and creative. The tahini on top is tahini mixed with beets and tahini mixed with parsley (or cilantro?). Topped with a little cilantro and spices, and pickles thrown in from the salad bar, I could eat this every day!
For 24 shekels, it’s a great deal; delicious, so filling, and seriously affordable. I sometimes even have leftovers. Also, extra points to the amazing and kind workers for putting up with my questions about oil and my non-ability to speak Hebrew, while still being so sweet to me. I’m taking home good vibes, and a stubborn desire to figure out how to make fresh hummus that tastes even remotely like this one. Oh, and I’m also taking home the ability to say ‘hummus’ and ‘tahini’ in a decently good Israeli accent (if I do say so myself).
TLDR: Try foreign food, cuisines, and dishes- if it’s cruelty free, of course ;). Even if you think you won’t like it or never liked chickpeas before. Now I’m searching for the most authentic hummus for when I get back to NY for two days, and most importantly, for when I’m in LA.
Lucky me- these place happens to be right underneath where I work (see the glass door on the right? That is the office building I work in- just walk up 2 flights of stairs and I’m in the Anonymous for Animal Rights office.
Not only is the hummus fantastic, the people are so nice.