Middle Eastern Restaurants and Food in Philadelphia

Shawarma platter at Hummus; Pastries from Manakeesh | Photos by Neal Santos

Shawarma platter at Hummus; Pastries from Manakeesh | Photos by Neal Santos

Middle Eastern flavors have long been a rich vein mined by chefs working in any number of styles. And Middle Eastern restaurants — whether of the wheeled or brick-and-mortar variety — have been a staple on the Philly scene for decades. But while you might think there’s nothing to this cuisine beyond chickpeas and falafel, here are six places that will prove you wrong.

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Two for One Reviews by LaBan

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Dizengoff and Stock are both reviewed by Craig LaBan.

This weekend, Craig LaBan offered two reviews for the price of one Sunday Inquirer as he reviewed both Stock and Dizengoff. Each spot focuses on a single specialty with admirable results. 

Stock – Two Bells, Very Good

Where Stock truly excels, and the best reason to hang with Fishtown hipsters at the counter, are the small menu’s beef-free options. The mushroom pho packs an umami punch the beef pho lacks. The shredded green papaya starter is one of the most irresistible salads in town, the crunchy threads and roasted peanuts basking in a tart and funky fish sauce-lime dressing that flickers with chile heat. Of the daily banh mi hoagies, which included tasty chicken meatball and unexpectedly bland pork sausage, the surprising winner was filled with custardy tofu, bright with soy-garlic marinade, pickled cabbage, and creamy Japanese mayo.

Stock: The meticulous beef pho has depth, but is outshone by other offerings [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Dizengoff – Three Bells, Excellent

[T]his hummus takes on its magnetic powers thanks to chef Emily Seaman. The Zahav alum compulsively creates new garnishes daily based on what farmers deliver, with spot-on instincts for textures and flavor contrasts.

Summer corn took on the musky sweetness of fenugreek. Red peppers, simmered with pomegranate, went for a muhammara mood with crushed walnuts. Soft cannelinis were tinted yellow with Yemenite hawaj curry, dusted with smoky black flecks of Urfa chilies. Charred eggplants were cooked to a gloss, then tanged with vinegar and garlic. Fragrant ground lamb, one day topped with pickles, another stewed with orange and pistachios, hit a high with aromatic Persian spice.

Dizengoff: At this ‘hummusiya,’  the chickpea puree takes on magnetic power [Philadelphia Inquirer]

First Bite: Dizengoff

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Michael Solomonov’s hummisiya, Dizengoff softly opened today. We were on hand to snap some photos and of course try out the hummus. We ordered the Hummus matbucha for $10. The hummus is topped with Moroccan cooked tomato-pepper salad and a slow-cooked egg. It reminded me of a hummus version of shakshuka and that was exactly The order comes with three side salads and a piece of pita, piping hot, right from the oven.

The food was plenty for lunch and the pita was just about enough for all the generous serving of hummus.

More on Dizengoff » 

Michael Solomonov’s Dizengoff Opens August 11th

dizengoff-squareDizengoff, Michael Solomonov’s hummusiya will open on Monday, Augst 11th at 10:30 a.m. The spot at 1625 Sansom Street will serve four varieties of housemade hummus, freshly baked pita and seasonal salatim. The plates range from $9 to $11 and all include two pitot (the plural of pita), two seasonal salatim and Israeli pickles. The 25-seat hummusiya is named for the boulevard in Tel Aviv and will also offer a variety of non-alcoholic drinks including frozen Lemonanna, Coke, Diet Coke and San Pellegrino Pompelmo. A rotating selection of craft brews will also be available as 12-oz. drafts for $4 each. Solomonov, who says “we’ve always known that we wanted to open a hummusiya similar to the ones you find everywhere in Israel.” “We make our hummus so often throughout the day, it’s never even refrigerated.” Abe Fisher, the next door restaurant “inspired by the Jewish Diaspora” is also moving towards completion date and should open by September 7. Check out the menu » 

Hummus Restaurant Opens in Center City

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Today marks the opening of Hummus Grill’s Center City location at 212 S 11th Street. The winner of Best of Philly’s 2012 shawarma platter had one last delay in opening this week. a truck hit an exhaust fan which forced them to get a new evaporator and condenser for the walk-in fridge.

But with that issue behind them, it’s falafel, shawarma and kabobs for everyone.

Hummus Grill [Official Site]

Hummus Grill Coming to Center City

Inquirer critic and Michigan native, Craig LaBan, was excited. He had his Tigers in the World Series, and the Famous Detroit Coney Company taking over the Santa Fe Burrito Company’s 11th Street location. But the tail-end of 2012 proved to be full of upsets for LaBan; his Tigers blew out of the Series in blaze-less glory, and the 11th Street Coney dog concept fell through.

Instead, Ardmore and University City’s Hummus Grill, just signed the lease to the space, and they’re hoping to complete renovations by March of 2013. And since they bear the award for 2012 Best of Philly Shawarma Platter, maybe this is something worth getting excited for again.

Food Blog Round Up

I Am Beer Wise was also at the opening of Earth Bread + Brewery and files a complete report. [I Am Beer Wise]

David McDuff enjoys a “fantastic” meal at Zahav and chronicles the Italian wines he paired with it. [McDuff's Food & Wine Trail]

Philly Grub went to brunch at Lacroix feeling skeptical but come out throwing around superlatives like genius and spectacular and unbelievable. [Philly Grub]

Foodaphilia visits Ekta, the most talked about takeout spot in the city. [Foodaphilia]

The Beer Lass comes up with a concept the only concept that can rival Oktoerfest, Porktoberfest. [Beer Lass]

Mac & Cheese finds that it’s slim pickings for the vegetarian at Parc but like just about everyone else she finds the people-watching bountiful. [Mac & Cheese]

Living on the Vedge won’t be back to Hummus at 40th and Walnut but if you work or go to school nearby it might be worth a look. [Living on the Vedge]

I Am Beer Wise visits Kite & Key and the Tiedhouse in the Art Museum area. [I Am Beer Wise]

Mac & Cheese heads to the self-proclaimed “originator of the veggie hoagie,” Chickie’s on Federal Street and discovers the fried tomato hoagie. [Mac & Cheese]

Planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest? Then you might want to check out Foodzings who review everything including the food at the airport. [Foodzings]

Hummus Satisfies

Trey Popp checks out the newish Hummus on the western edge of Penn’s campus and it sounds good.

Hummus’ marinated thighs are so succulent I actually imagined sticking a straw into the pile of meat to suck up the juices. The depth of flavor is no fluke; the chicken on the spit is layered with lamb fat.

The falafel balls are crisp but not dry, beef kebabs ring with spices and onions and the pita bread is pillow soft. Moroccan cigars — deep-fried cylinders of potato or finely ground beef — were still so hot when they hit my plate that the Styrofoam vaporized, riddling the rim with penny-sized holes. That freaked me out a little, so I was extra glad for the thick smear of creamy hummus covering the middle of the plate.

Middle Eastern High [City Paper]
Hummus [Official Site]

Quick Bites

Drew Lazor has the latest on Prohibition Taproom, the soon to open bar by Cafe Lift owner Michael Pasquarello. [The Clog]

Michael Klein has the latest on Bistrot La Minette on 6th Street. Opening is said to be a month out. [Food and Drinq]

Collingswood’s Pop Shop was selected Philadelphia’s 2008 Parents’ Pick for Best Family Friendly Restaurant by Nickelodeon’s Parents’ Picks Awards.

Hummus is set to open at 40th and Walnut next to the under construction Radian complex on Penn’s campus. The self-serve restaurant will feature falafel and other pita wrapped sandwiches. [Daily Pennsylvanian]

Also in the awards category, Moore Brothers topped the Zagat Wine Shop category in the Zagat “New York City Gourmet Shopping & Entertainment Guide 2009.” [Moore Brothers]