How Excited Should Santa Monica Be For Hummus Bar Express?
I don’t know how you feel, but hearing that a place called “Hummus Bar Express” is coming soon to the 3rd Street Promenade does not cause me to automatically celebrate. We are talking about the Promenade after all, home to such wonderful Mediterranean cuisine as Falafel King. And Greek Cuisine Stop N Cafe. I’m not saying the Promenade couldn’t use an excellent Middle Eastern option (only a crazy person would say that!) but I do question what kind of Middle Eastern options the Promenade attracts. Of course once you add the words “from Tarzana” to the end of the Hummus Bar Express, that changes everything. Tarzana? That’s in the Valley. And the Valley has pretty awesome Middle Eastern food. Santa Monica could sure use some of that.
The question is, how excited should we be for Hummus Bar Express? Well that depends on how much of the original Hummus Bar & Grill is going to make it down the 405? They did call it “Express”, which means not everything is going to make the trip. But here’s what we should be hoping for…
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat… the bread oven better be coming. I could live without the chicken shawarma spit, but the fresh baked pita bread and laffa? No way. They lose that, they lose me. And none of this “we baked the bread in Tarzana, and drove it down fresh in the morning.” Even after 5 or 10 minutes on the table this stuff isn’t as good as it is warm. So it’s fresh out of the oven or nothing. Luckily their bread oven seemed pretty small (especially when compared to the Persian space pods that are required to cook sangak) so I can’t imagine a scenario where the fresh bread doesn’t make the trip.
Sadly, the all you can eat salads won’t likely be as lucky. One of the best parts of Hummus Bar & Grill is their option to add all you can eat salads to any entree (12-15 in all) for just $6 a person, which they serve in little containers Korean banchan style. There’s a whole assortment of pickled veggies, alongside a tahini heavy babaganoosh, tabouleh, plus an excellent chopped liver and egg salad, both of which reminded me of the Jewish holiday get-togethers of my youth. There is no question the salads themselves will make it onto the menu of Hummus Bar Express (no Israeli falafel place is complete without a pickled veggies bar) but the people I talked to at the original Bar & Grill made it sound like the all you can eat option would likely be dropped since the storefront is going to be more focused on take out than sit down meals.
The good news is, that means more focus on the sandwiches. One of the well known secrets of Hummus Bar & Grill is that even though they aren’t listed on the dine in menu, they will make a whole array of sandwiches using pita bread ($5-$14) or laffa ($6-$15). And, they’ll even stuff them with french fries! Their bright green falafel is the most economical option ($7 for pita, $8 for laffa), but I’d expect to see various chicken skewers, schnitzel, and hopefully shawarma as well ($10 for pita, $11 for the much larger laffa.)
Add some of their spectacular hot sauce, or amba (a curry flavored, salty mango sauce) and you’re in business.
So am I bummed we probably won’t get all you can eat salads at Hummus Bar Express? Sure. But I guess I can just drive up to Tarzana for that… it’s definitely worth it. As for the new Santa Monica location- they hope to be open in a month and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Hummus Bar & Grill, 18743 Ventura Blvd. 818-344-6606