For Americans, hummus is an amusing dip we like to alternate with salad dressing. In Israel however, hummus is a big deal. You may actually want to be careful about who you talk to about which hummus in Israel is best because Israelis take hummus very seriously and it can get a little heated. All around Israel, there are “Hummus Bars” also called Hummusias, which are basically eateries where hummus is the main event, not the side. Of course you can put some incidentals like meat and veggies into the hummus, but the point here is the hummus.
If you love the chickpea, here are some places you need to check out:
Hummus Ben Sira: Located on Ben Sira Street in Jerusalem’s Old City, everyone I asked about where to go for good hummus mentioned this place. Jerusalem’s old city is always a destination for tourists, but this place is always filled not just with visitors but with locals as it’s known as having the best hummus in Jerusalem. My friend Benny likes the hummus mixed with meat and mushrooms and claims it’s “like literally the best hummus in Israel”.
Hummus Eliyahu: If you are up North near Teveria there is a little place in Yokneam called Hummus Eliyahu. Their hummus is so good that they have opened up locations elsewhere. Much like you might see people in New York running out during a busy workday to get a quick sushi, in Yokneam, a business sector in Northern Israel, they run out to get a quick hummus.
Hahumusia Shel Oranit:You kind of have to know about this place as it’s one of less well known hummus bars. If you are in the Jezreel Valley and want the fresh hummus bar experience, this little place is a treasure. Located in Afula, patrons rave not just about the hummus but also about the restaurant, which admittedly is a little small but clean and homey.
Hummus Ashkara: Located in Tel Aviv, this hummusia is one of Israel’s oldest, operating for over 40 years. So they really know their hummus. And they like making it too because they are open 24 hours a day - unusual in the hummus bar industry. Some other options to try here are their fresh soups in winter which are amazing. Hummus Ashkara is a small restaurant and you know it’s good because it’s almost always crowded. They also have a few tables outside for some Hummus al fresco.
Hummus Bahadonas: Located in Ramat Gan and in Tel Aviv, there are several locations of this hummusia. Their hummus has a unique flavor with lots of lemon, garlic and parsley. It’s a good taste though, because Bahadonas is consistently rated in lists of best hummus places in Israel.
A few words about the hummusias: They often don’t have a varied menu as the point is awesome hummus, and they specialize in that one thing. Some hummus bars close down when they run out of hummus for the day, whenever that might be. So if you are having a hankering, go early.
Also - and I have to say that I am puzzled about this as an American - some hummus bars have this thing where they put a boiled egg in the hummus. I am not sure what that’s about. I would rather just go with classic pita bread, which somehow also tastes better in Israel.