Hummus Smackdown: our search for the city’s best chickpea spread
The Middle Eastern trend has Toronto restaurants re-imagining one of the oldest Arabic staples: hummus. Here are our five favourite variations on the mashed chickpea theme.
For the past decade, uptowners have been enjoying Me Va Me’s fresh, fast Israeli grub. With the recent opening of their Queen West location, Toronto’s shawarma standards have been raised. Our favourite version of the velvety, tahini-packed hummus is served with sautéed button mushrooms, although a pile of freshly sheered shawarma is an equally enticing option. The clay oven-baked luffa bread is phenomenal: flaky, chewy and still warm. $7.45. 240 Queen St W., 416-546-3770
At Toronto’s first and only hummuseria, owner Ezra Braves blends lemon, tahini, cumin, garlic and organic olive oil to create a rustic chickpea purée. S. Leftkowitz’s hummus is of the chunkier variety, minimally mashed to highlight the organic chickpeas. The tastiest plate comes topped with warm olives, creamy boiled egg and dustings of house harissa and za’atar. $8. 913 Dundas St. W., 647-346-8448
Kensington’s 19-year-old Syrian bodega whips up some of the city’s fluffiest hummus. When owner Hiyam Samara first moved to Canada she was “shocked” by how dense the average grocery-store variety was. Back home, a good hummus is defined by its airiness. To get a whipped cream-like texture, Samara adds one ingredient at a time, blending the dip after each addition to achieve an ethereal smoothness. $5. 191 Baldwin St., 647-351-3116
Bedford Park’s newest eatery delivers Egyptian dishes reimagined from a contemporary North American perspective. Their hummus is no exception. Chef-owner Samir Girgis’s citrusy hummus gets an added punch from fiery aleppo peppers. Our favourite piles the dip high with lamb merguez, charred banana chillies, rapini and pine nuts. $9. 3471 Yonge St., 416-440-0700
Long before Byblos, the fancy new Mid-East lounge from Charles Khabouth, there was Tabülè. The longstanding Yonge Street eatery opened a new Riverside outpost last year. Beirut-raised chef Rony Goraichy uses only premium Lebanese tahini in his strictly-orthodox chickpea dip, which is blissfully creamy and just a little bit tart. $5.75. 810 Queen St. E., 416-465-2500