Sat11292014

Food & Wine

Oren’s Hummus brings Israeli food to downtown Mountain View


Courtesy of Oren’s Hummus
Chickpeas make up the heart of Oren’s Hummus’ most famous dishes, but new menu offerings put a spotlight on eggplant at its Mountain View location.

The hummus phenomenon that has staked out a bustling corner of downtown Palo Alto opened an outpost in Mountain View last week.

Oren’s Hummus set up shop at 126 Castro St. with a slimmed-down, speeded-up menu.

Founder Oren Dobronsky built a menu around the flavors of Israel – skewered meats, house-made pita and imported chickpeas and spices. Co-owner Mistie Cohen said the Mountain View location dropped a few long-cooking items (shakshuka, schnitzel) based on their observations in Palo Alto.

“We’re going to a quick/casual concept to support the speed of service,” Cohen said. “We like to think of ourselves as a very busy restaurant.”

They’ve added to the menu, too – the sabich sandwich has returned after several years on hiatus. Warm pita wraps around fried eggplant, chopped hard-boiled egg, hummus, tahini, herbs and veggies – an oozingly rich vegetarian dish topped with the secret house Abba Sauce. Two other new dishes pair eggplant with Greek and Israeli flavors. Red onion, parsley, dill and cucumber serve as a crisp, raw backdrop to many of the dishes.

“Mediterranean food can be a lot of things – many people think of it as having more of a Greek style,” Cohen said. “That’s not who we are. We import all of our chickpeas, spices and tahini from Israel. Just like with wine or coffee, the region, temperature and way it’s grown make for a different kind of chickpea.”

In addition to indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant has designed space to allow for the takeout orders they anticipate.

At the Palo Alto location, takeaway diners squeeze patiently along a wall at the edge of the kitchen as staff slide by. They make up more than a third of Oren’s business but have to fit around the hopping dining room. At Castro Street, patrons can order at the counter, then amble over to one of the 100 seats. The restaurant includes something of a takeout lounge, a dedicated area where you can glance at a screen to see when your order’s ready.

For more information, call 938-6716 or visit orenshummus.com.

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