Hummus among us: The Middle Eastern dip is spreading in Philly

Hummus with chicken shawarma at Hey Hummus, 2101 Chestnut St.

Hummus has long been a staple of Middle Eastern menus - the creamy chickpea spread is usually served with a pita pulled from a plastic bakery bag.

Camera icon DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer, file
Dizengoff at 1625 Sansom St. hosts a communal dining experience for hummus-hungry Philadelphians..

Hummus moved front and center in August 2014 when Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook, with chef Emily Seaman, branched out from their modern-Israeli destination Zahav with Dizengoff.

The casual spot with picnic tables, a bold urban-Israeli motif, and hot pita loaves came tucked behind a garage door at 1625 Sansom St., next to their restaurant Abe Fisher. Suddenly, the word hummusiya entered the local lexicon.

Camera icon ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Dizengoff's signature hummus is topped with chicken braised with apricots and carrots. Toppings change frequently according to market availability and whim.

Diz's menu remains simple: five topped hummus selections served with pita, canned beer and beverages, and shakshuka every Sunday. Spinoffs now operate at Chelsea Market in New York City as well as at the Whole Foods store near the Barnes Museum. 

Now have come two recent hummus specialists with Israeli backers:

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
The hummus known as Go Hard or Go Home from Hummusology, 1112 Locust St., has extra chickpeas, ful (the pureed fava bean spread), egg, tahini, lemon, and olive oil. .

Hummusology (1112 Locust St., 215-592-6505), which opened in November, turns out a half-dozen varieties of warm Israeli-style hummus from scratch.  Toppings include vegetables (eggplant, squash, sweet potatoes), ful (the mashed fava bean dish), and onion-tossed mushrooms. Its pita is par-baked offsite and served hot to order. Daily, it also sells the tomato-and-egg dish shakshuka and its cousin hamshuka, and offers potato and cheese burekas. Each dish ($10 to $12) gets a side of pickled vegetables and a pita. There's a decent-size seating area.

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Hummusology's seating area.

A few weeks old is Hey Hummus (2101 Chestnut St., 267-606-6942), a small cafe in the RiverWest Condos just west of the lobby, with a few seats lining the front window. Owner Victor Fellus runs Mix and Victor's Bar, also in the building. Hey Hummus replaced a short-lived spot called Ventuno. Hey Hummus keeps its menu simple, and quirky.

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
A daily special: kebab, on top of the hummus bowl at Hey Hummus, 2101 Chestnut St..

There's a bowl of hummus with tahini for $8, a variation with whole chickpeas called mesabaha for $9, a bowl with fried onions, mushrooms, and turmeric for $10, a bowl topped with chicken shawarma for $11, and a bowl topped with brisket for $11. All dishes come with Israeli salad, pickles, a warm pita, and hot sauce. Now for the quirky part: Just as Ventuno served, Hey Hummus sells ice cream from Penn State's Berkey Creamery. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday to Friday (closed Saturday).

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Counter at Hey Hummus, 2101 Chestnut St..