Order an appetizer sampler, one of the creative hummus dips, and shakshuka or couscous.
Both can enjoy mango Israeli beer and wine to compliment your dining experience.
I am sure a lot of people will give you a blank stare when you ask them if they like Israeli food. Foodie or foodienot, don’t feel bad if you don’t know what Israeli food it, just keep reading… I am sure you had an opportunity to try at least a few items from what is traditionally considered Israeli cuisine.
So, what is Israeli food? Imagine a table with small vegetable appetizer plates, grilled meats and seafood, and, of course, the star of every meal – hummus and pita. The typical Israeli restaurant brings out around 10 small plates, whether you ordered them or not, filled with cabbage salads, traditional Israeli salad of cucumbers and tomato, eggplants,
zucchini, spreads, and other inventive vegetable combinations that create delightful appetizers. Small plates can seem intimidating for more traditional eaters, who can find it hard to appreciate the medley of options laid out in front of them, that they didn’t even order! But if you get t
hrough the appetizer portion of the experience, you are set for a smooth sale as a foodienot… if you are a foodie like myself, rejoice but make sure you save room for main dishes. That is always the hardest part of Israeli dining experience for me.
I don’t see too many traditional Israeli food spots in the United States, but recently was thrilled to stumble upon one in Palo Alto, and learn they have expanded to multiple locations around the Bay Area. Oren’s Hummus Shop (see how it even has hummus in the name?), is not really a shop, it’s a welcoming sit-down and take-out restaurant with small tables, that are put tightly together re-create the hustle bustle of Israeli streets. Open late and usually with a line outside, the restaurant serves traditional Israeli fare that is “authentic”, “fresh”, “healthy”, “convenient”, and “sustainable”.
The meal has to start with hummus! There is a number of options – classic, eggplant, lamb, and beef are among them. But may I suggest that classic is the best way to start. It’s served with warm white or whole wheat pita, and each shop has instructions on how to eat it: rip, scoop, EAT. If have any questions on that, skip the hummus part, but I highly encourage you to dive in! Foodies can entertain their pallets by ordering a sampler of Israeli small plate appetizers, which are usually complementary in Israel. Oren’s Hummus shop still brings out a few plates, but you need to order the rest.
For your main courses you can find meat and chicken skewers, salads, and pita sandwiches. If you are open to experimenting, they also serve shakshuka – an amazing egg dish with tomato sauce.