It's no secret. Ask anyone in Jerusalem where the best place to get hummus is, and you are likely to be pointed in the direction of Abu Shukri, located in the heart of the Old City. Usually when a restaurant becomes so renowned, one may question if the quality of the food and experience can live up to the reputation; I immediately wondered if this was just another tourist trap. Upon arrival, I was immediately assured that this was not the case, as locals and foreigners alike filled the vibrant room. This was a good start, I was excited to see if the hummus could seal the deal to making Abu Shukri one of the best hummus restaurants in Jerusalem.
Almost instantly after being seated, the table filled up with small plates of Middle Eastern delights ranging from finely cut Israeli salads to freshly made hummus. The timing worked in perfect accordance to the hunger of our stomachs after a morning of touring in the heat. The timing was impeccable yet there was never a feeling that we were being rushed.
In between running to and from the kitchen, we were able to meet Fadi Taha, the third generation owner of the restaurant. Fadi spoke to us about his roots in this historic place; all history is recent when juxtaposed to the Western Wall just down the road, yet the restaurant has been in his family for the past 65 years, which proves that their hummus and food is no passing fad. The hummus recipe has been passed down from generation to generation, and after having my first bite, I realized that it is a holy experience in itself.
Fadi was kind enough to give me a behind the scenes view of how the hummus is made, (as you can see in the video below) and I was excited to see the ingredients of cooked chickpeas, tahini, spices and herbs combine with freshly squeezed lemon juice. After a considerable amount of hand mashing, the ingredients came together to form the deliciously creamy hummus texture. Fadi told me that there is not a day that goes by where he doesn't taste test a batch to ensure the perfect flavor balance. This sentiment made me green with food envy.
After my lunch at Abu Shukri, it became clear that this restaurant not only lived up to its expansive reputation, it also surpassed it. Authenticity oozes from the walls; the dedication to the quality of food and service makes this an all around fantastic eating experience, and a culinary highlight of time spent in Jerusalem. This was anything but a tourist trap; instead a scrumptious journey in history, getting to taste the family recipe behind the famous Abu Shukri hummus.
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