Complete with faux-ivy crawling over the brick walls and ceiling, Sabra’s brand new pop-up restaurant, Hummus House, initially appears to be a traditional Middle Eastern eatery with a modern twist.
After spending a few moments inside, however, it’s clear that this place is far from authentic. In fact, the pop-up has a distinctly unpleasant corporate atmosphere to it. The embarrassing stock photos and the Sabra logo scattered everywhere only reinforce the sense that you’re inside a pop-up advertisement.
A small gathering of protesters were present in front of Hummus House, muttering the words “boycott Sabra” to passersby. One of the joint owners of Sabra, the Israeli food product manufacturer Strauss Group, has allegedly supported the controversial Israeli Defense Force Golani Brigade for years, prompting worldwide boycotts of Sabra products. In terms of first impressions, this one certainly wasn’t the most pleasant.
Upon entering the store, a friendly host greeted me and walked me to the restaurant area, passing the refrigerator of prepackaged Sabra products and a staircase to the empty second floor—giving a hollow vibe to the odd marketing stunt. Once I accepted it for what it was, though, the rest of the dining experience was admittedly quite pleasant.
I ordered the Baba Ghanoush and pita chips to start, curious to try something Sabra does not sell in grocery stores. The dish was as simple as it was advertised, but it did not disappoint. The roasted eggplant came through delicately and the creaminess of the dip was complemented by the salty crunch of the pita chips.
The hummus plate entree came as a large platter of warm, thick hummus topped with chickpeas and tahini. Italian olive oil and sea salt garnished the dip, and it was served with perfectly toasted pita bread and crunchy pita chips. The platter also included guacamole, roasted red peppers, and sliced vegetables from a local farm—all fresh and colorful additions to the pop-up’s signature platter.
I had tasted Sabra hummus before from Safeway, and while gourmet for a college budget, a warm version didn’t sound all that exciting. I was pleasantly surprised. While a gentleman was preparing hummus from scratch at a table set up adjacent to mine, he told me this dish was going to be “the best damn hummus” I had ever tasted.
This hummus was nothing like the store bought kind. Each of the fresh flavors competed for attention, and the olive oil and pita alone were delicious. The guacamole was good, too—better than store bought, but nothing special and vividly incongruous with the Mediterranean vibe of the Hummus House.
If you need to ease your hummus cravings, dip into Hummus House before it closes its doors on Oct. 26. Just remember to leave your consumerism at home as you enter this chickpea-flavored, store-shaped billboard.
1254 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
11 a.m-9 p.m, through Oct. 26