Monday, September 21, 2009
Melrose used to be a trendy place in Los Angeles until several years ago when the Grove shopping mall opened nearbye and sucked out the life out of this hipster's paradise.
Many of the hip and fun stores closed and the street started looking more like a ghost street.
Even the Hummus restaurant there like Wholesome Pita closed.
Now a new attempt is being made to open a new Hummus place with a twist and being a huge fan of Melrose I went to this place hoping that indeed they'll nail it.
The place is called Muma and the interior design and the way they serve shouts FRANCHISE. They are trying to do to Hummus what Pinkberry did to frozen yogurt.
Unlike many of the other Hummus restaurants which look like a cheap low class rundown diner- Muma has a cool and hip look which makes the tiny place feel much more spacious and fun.
They have fresh vegetables and salads that are made on premise and have interesting options for the Hummus.
The Hummus itself is good and interesting.
Their Falafel is fresh and made to order and their Pitas are also fresh.
The place is still brand new and caters to 3 different crowds:
Orthodox Jews living nearbye in La Brea/Melrose area
Israeli's working on Melrose
Vegeterians looking for a fun and tasty place in the Fairfax district.
Hipsters wanting a fast and clean meal on Melrose after shopping there.
One of the things that always dissapoints me with new places is how fast they surrender to mediocrity after the first few month's of existence.
This place is new and the two charming and charismatic owners are working there hard to make sure the food is fresh and tasty and hot for every customer.
The fans have noticed their hard work and the place is full most of the day.
I do hope they will stay this way and not give up their desire to make the best Hummus on Melrose.
Muma's is aiming directly for the Chipotle crowd. Those wanting a fast meal in a clean place that's both tasty, fast and hip but also will give them a full meal for under $10. Chipotle seem to have a lot of repeat customers that come there almost daily to eat cheaply.
Time will tell if the same concept will work for Mumma.
As they are located so close to the ultra Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of La Brea and Melrose they will hopefully attract some of the same crowd that used to go to Wholesome Pita. But in order to survive in the competitive Melrose Avenue they'll hopefully manage to get the hipsters to adopt this place to.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this place.
It's inspiring to see young people try to bring new life into a traditional meal in such an exciting way and especially in LA which is such a hard town to bring anything new to.
I also hope they don't fall into the trap of a lot of middle eastern places that eventually try to hike up prices believing Israeli's, Jews and Arabs are suckers. They might be for awhile but eventually all places that had crazy prices for Hummus went under. Hummus and Falafel are the Pizza of the middle east and as such should be priced accordingly.
As their new competitor on Fairfax, Pita bar and Grill turned from a sweet darling to a disgusting, stale Pita serving, lousy Hummus making place in less than 6 month since they opened and also hiked up the price and so lost quite a few clients in the process - I truly hope this sweet new place doesn't look at the conduct of the current crop of middle eastern restaurants but rather at what it could become- the middle eastern Chipotle chain.
Good luck guys and may the force of chickpeas be with you.
7275 Melrose Ave
LA CA 90046
Thursday, May 28, 2009
THE AWFUL LIST:
Seems like there's a new trend in LA. Middle eastern joints have hiked their prices to filthy greedy territory. Who would have thought that going to a run down, noisy, dirty and mediocre tasting middle eastern diner could cost as much as going out to an expensive high class steak house in Beverly Hills.
I made the decision to avoid going to these places. I believe that only if people avoid them will they either have to lower their prices or eventually close- making the point that Hummus joints cannot treat their clients like total suckers!
AWFUL Aroma: THE WINNER OF THE DISGUSTING LIST
Aroma cafe,the awful Israeli diner was one of the first to realize they could over charge for Israeli food. They realized some Israeli's are suckers and they'll pay extra to be able to sit among other Israeli's in an Israeli hangout in the Valley.
But now there are a lot of additional places that have replicated this model.
AWFUL NANA: RUNNER UP TO MOST DISGUSTING LIST TOPPER
NANA in the PICO ROBERTSON area, is another one of the places I strongly recommend to avoid. It's simply awful.
I hated the food.
I hated the service.
I hated everything about this place.
and the price ... OUCH.
It's for suckers.
Or as Israeli's call them: FRYARS.
But for some reason, it seems that there are a lot in the Pico Robertson area and it's a shame!
AWFUL ITZIK HAGADOL: ANOTHER WINNER IN THE TOP FIVE DISGUSTING LIST
Then there's Itzik Hagadol.
Gadol means large in Hebrew.
The only thing that's large in this restaurant is the bill you'll get for extremely mediocre food and Hummus that's just as bland.
CAYENNE AND ZAHLE: ET TU BRUTUS?
The sad thing is that our Lebanese friends have learned from Israeli restaurants and immitating them. Take two restaurants I used to love : CAYENNE on Beverly Blvd and Zahle in North Hollywood. Their pricing is disgusting. For now, my recommendation is AVOID!
Perhaps the hardest for me is to write a negative review about Zahle. Even thought they've hiked their prices- their Hummus is still superb.
That said: sadly, I am joining those who won't return there in the near future.
Yesterday I went to Zahle craving a Falafel plate, a small Hummus and a salad.
Very basic plate? Right?
They stopped having these plates and each one must be ordered separately.
They have a new super expensive menu.
A plate with 4 Falafel balls now cost $7.00
I paid for my very basic Falafel meal $25 (Without drinking anything, without desert, cofee, sides, etc...)
For a basic falafel meal with only 4 Falafels.
I left feeling angry, cheated and ripped of.(Not to mention hungry)
So for now my recommendation is avoid even this worthy place. Hopefully their prices will come down .
I looked at the menu and realized that a meat dish and some sides would bring the price of a meal easily to $50 per person.
Why would anyone waste 30 minutes driving to this place that's not in most people's way - just to sit in a cheap restaurant and eat super expensive basic food and pay so much is beyond me.
Sad that the recession has caused both Israeli's and Arabs in Los Angeles to become super greedy.
But as so many restaurants are closing all over the city- I'm sure new ones will soon open and hopefully some of them will be middle eastern with normal pricing.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Los Angeles has a lot of various Hummus serving restuarants. Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Armenian and Israeli among others.
There is something in the Hummus served in many of these places that just doesn't taste like the authentic Hummus that can be eaten in the middle east.
BEST: GYPSY CAFE
This used to be my favorite spot.They are easier to get to and more centrally located than Zahle but they're also more expensive. They're located in the middle of Westwood which means a parking nightmare and it's taken me just as much time to find parking in the area as it would have taken me to drive all the way to Zahle.
That said they give larger portions than Zahle so it's a close call between the current champ and the runner up.
Still a Hummus plate costs $7 which some feel is highway robbery for the white gold.
Their Hummus is simply divine. One of the best Hummus restaurants in th US.
They also have amazing Falafel.
They're mostly a Hukkah place so be prepared to inhale a lot of smoke while eating your Hummus. Their Falafel and all their other foods are also great. But the Hummus- is their cherry topping.
Their website is:
Across the street there's a much more popular Hookah place that also serves food. While the crowd in the place across the street is younger and hipper. For Hookah smoking and for crowd viewing go there. But for Hummus go to the Gypsy cafe.
Hours of operation based on their website:
"Gypsy Cafe opens at 9am Monday thru Friday and 10am Sat and Sun serving breakfast and coffee our full menu is available from 10am daily.
We are open 365 days a year
We are open daily until 2am
Sunday thru Wednesday
Open until 4am Thursday thru Saturday
For parties & catering please call 310 824-2119 before 11.30am."
940 Broxton Avenue,
Westwood Village, 90024
Wonderful Hummus. Tastes authentic and fresh.
The problem with this place is that it's a fast food place rather than a regular restaurant.
It's relatively inexpensive. Hummus is $3.65 for a small sized Hummus (Which is tiny) and $4.65 for a larger dish - which is still small but can serve one adult (assuming he's not too hungry)
Falafel is about $8 a plate and a meet dish is about $10
They serve on ugly disposable plastic plates and seating is uncomfortable. It feels very authentic.
They're now renovating a large space across the street. I wonder if once they move to the more upscale place if they'll raise their prices and like other middle eastern restaurants and lose the charm this place had.
It's seems it's always full. It's a little gem.
Sunnin Lebanese Cafe
1779 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Rating ** 1/2
Cayane on Beverly Blvd is a wonderful and intimate Lebanese restaurant.
Their Hummus is good. It's not in the same league as Gypsy cafe, but there's a quiet nice vibe at this place and so we recommend it even thought their Hummus still leaves much to be desired.
Their Hummus is priced decently, but the rest of the meal is expensive. Maybe too expensive.
Their Shukshuka sometimes is great- when served in a pan and sometimes mediocre if served in a plate. Try to get Sam the owner to make the Shukshuka and serve it in the pan- then it comes divine. The best Shukshuka in LA.
They are located on Beverly Blvd. between Formosa and Detroit.
Hours of Operation:
Street parking available on Formosa Ave.
2-hour restriction before 4pm, No restriction after 4pm
BEST FOR PARTIES:
18743 Ventura Blvd
Tarzana, CA 91356
Good Hummus but the highlight is the Laffa pita which is fresh and hot. Try their Laffa Pita with Zaatar it's heavenly.
This place is ideal for parties as they can combine tables to form a huge long table that can seat nearly 50 people. their prices are not cheap but also not expensive.
RATING ** 1/2
I used to love this place cause they have divine Hummus- Some would even argue the best hummus in LA. But recently they've hiked their prices and they're too expensive to recommend.
I'm very dissapointed with their pricing for food- but the chef gets an A++ especially for their Hummus.
This place has an identity crisis.
It's too run down to invite anyone for a fancy meal or a date- and it's too expensive to go out with a friend to eat out at a fast friendly local joint. It's also not in most people's way- it's in North Hollywood about 30 minute drive (without traffic) from Hollywood.
They serve tiny portions of everything so expect to pay around $50-$100 per person for a full middle eastern meal.
I repeat $50 - as in FIFTY DOLLARS is what an average meal will cost you.
Maybe it's just me, but for that price- it'll be cheaper and more satisfactory to go to an upscale Sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills and not to a run down place in North Hollywood.
But back to their Hummus.
Their Hummus is $4 a plate.
But everything else is in too expensive.
They don't have a mixed plate with Hummus, Falafel and Salad. You have to buy them as separate dishes and it'll run you $25 without drinks. JUST FOR FALAFEL...
So for now, until they return to their senses- and to normal pricing- I suggest to avoid.
Lebanese Restaurant. North Hollywood.
12916 Victory Blvd. (Coldwater Canyon Ave.) North Hollywood, CA 91606
THIS IS THE ULTIMATE SUCKER MAGNET. EXPENSIVE. NOISY. AWFUL SERVICE. UGLY BEHAVIOR BOTH OF THE STAFF AND THE PEOPLE COMING THERE AND ENJOYING TO ARGUE AND SHOUT AT THE MEAN AND UNHELPFUL STAFF.
PERSONALLY I ALWAYS TRY TO AVOID THIS PLACE THAT MAKES ME CRINGE AND FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE FROM THE MOMENT I ENTER TILL THE MOMENT I LEAVE.
Many Israeli's know Aroma Cafe which has two branches one in the valley and one in Los Angeles. They are popular places and the perfect place to see a lot of Israelis sitting together. But in terms of their Hummus, it's a two thumbs down. Their hummus is mediocre at best and it's way overpriced. Expect to pay between $50-$100 minimum for a very light meal that will leave you craving for more.
The place has slow and horrible service and not all their other dishes tasted fresh.
Haifa restaurant has mediocre Hummus as well, but it's the place many Jewish Angelenos think about when they think about a Hummus restaurant.
It's located in the Jewish area of Pico-Roberton.
8717 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035-2205
Phone: (310) 550-2704
This very down to earth place is located in the old Jewish neighborhood of Fairfax street which is now changing and becoming a hipsters paradise. This restaurant reminds the visitors to this street of its glorious past before becaming the new center for Skateboard fans.
It replaced the famed restaurant Shula and Esther and it's food is very similar to Haifa. The place feels very authentic but the Hummus is mediocre at best. Still it will satisfy most people with an urgent need for some decent Hummus and it's Kosher.
* Middle Eastern, Kosher
* 519 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles 90036
* (Btwn Clinton St & Rosewood Ave)
* Phone: (323) 653-9024
Mon-Thu: 11am-11pm Fri: 11am-4pm Sun: 10am-11pm
RATING: AVOID! AVOID! AVOID!
Located in the Pico Robertson Area- It's competing with Aroma for the ultimate sucker magnet.
It's expensive, awful and I recommend to avoid.
That said a lot of Israeli's sit there- which proves that indeed a sucker's born every minute.
Another place for suckers.
RATING: AWFUL. AVOID!
Middle Eastern Fast Food Chains
Some love it some hate it. It's an Armenian chain and so perhaps they're flavoring is more specific. It's a bit more expensive fast food chain - Chipotle style if you wish to compare- so don't expect a lot from the decor. It's mostly for fast and ultra cheap meals. Their website for various locations:
FROM THE EXPERTS:
Many reviewers on this popular website think the two Carousel restaurants are the best.
AnArmenian/Lebanese restaurant that's quite popular. It's located in little Armenia close to Thai town - quite east for many Angelenos.
Their Hummus is mediocre and they give small portions as well.
That said, they give much larger portions of meat. So just for Hummus go elsewhere, but for an overall meal and if you like Armenian spicing it's a place to consider.
Here's the link: