★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
63 El Wad, Old City, Jerusalem
Sunday-Saturday (8:00 – 4:30)
We went to Abu Shukri for lunch during our day trip to Jerusalem with Doug’s parents. My work supervisor had told me about the restaurant, saying it was a hole in the wall kind of place with amazing hummus. Neither of those turned out to be particularly true, but we had a fantastic day in Jerusalem regardless.
Abu Shukri is a hummus restaurant in the Muslim quarter, right along the Via Dolorosa procession. I expected it to be a tiny, unimposing hummus place. In reality, it was a large, cavernous sort of restaurant with several seating areas. It was hole-in-the-wall-y in at least one way, though: the restaurant seemed like it was built into a cave, almost, with stone archways and a grey stone color-scheme. With Arabic music playing and what we originally thought were fake bird noises in the background (it turns out they were live birds—there were cages of birds hanging throughout the restaurant), the atmosphere was certainly unique.
Having heard about Abu Shukri’s hummus, three of us ordered a combo hummus dish, which allowed us to select three types. We all chose the same combination: hummus with pine nuts, hummus with whole chickpeas, and hummus masabacha with tahini. The other member of our party ordered a falafel dish but never got it. We think the waiter misunderstood and simply brought us a plate of falafel balls.
The hummus was nothing special, to be honest. After our recent experience at Abu Hassan in Yafo, Doug and I were almost disappointed. Unlike Abu Hassan’s hummus, Abu Shukri’s was cold. I usually eat my hummus cold, though, so that was nothing new. What was different was the slightly tart flavor of the hummus. I wasn’t a huge fan, but I did enjoy its creamy texture. The pine nuts added a nice nutty flavor that almost overpowered the tartness of the hummus. The soft, whole chickpeas were sweet, an interesting addition to the sharp-flavored hummus. Both were ok, although the whole chickpeas were softer than I would have liked. My least favorite part of my hummus dish was the masabacha. The chickpeas inside the hummus were far too soft and were largely tasteless, essentially disappearing into the hummus. It was also topped with tahini (which I’m generally not a huge fan of) that was almost yogurt-like in taste and consistency. Luckily, the tahini wasn’t overwhelming.
I found all three hummus types greatly improved by the addition of a spicy tomato sauce of sorts. The sauce was quite spicy on its own, but when put on a pita or with hummus, its spice was tempered greatly and it contributed a wonderful pickley flavor to whatever it was being eaten with. It reminded me of Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica.
The falafel, although well seasoned, was also mediocre. It had a good crunch and nice crumbly, grainy inside, but it was lukewarm. Perhaps they made the falafel for the dish we ordered, forgot why they prepared them and put them aside, and then figured they’d just bring us a small falafel platter because they didn’t know what else to do with them.
All in all, an average hummus experience. If you’re starving and can’t find a different place, Abu Shukri provides a pleasant environment and okay food. But it’s definitely not a place to write home about.