Oren’s Hummus Shop
126 Castro Street Mountain View, CA
Price Range: $$
In a place as diverse as the Silicon Valley, it seems that it should be easy to find food from virtually anywhere. However, despite the number of restaurants, it is still common to hear people insist that nothing they find is like the “real thing.” For fans of Israeli food, Oren’s Hummus Shop claims it can solve that.
Oren’s started in Palo Alto to fill the niche of an authentic Israeli restaurant. Their main attraction is the hummus bowl with pita, from which the restaurant gets both its name and its motto: “Rip, scoop, eat!” The Palo Alto restaurant is known for long lines and crowding, but in August, Oren’s opened a second, more spacious restaurant in Mountain View.
The new branch has many things in common with its partner in Palo Alto, most notably the authenticity of the food. Ranging from $8.95 to $10.50, the hummus bowls are expensive, but the portion sizes are large and the store can boast of quality other hummus brands may not have: the chickpeas, spices and tahini are all imported directly from Israel. However, one important difference is that at the Mountain View location it costs $0.75 per extra pita bread (two are included in the price of a hummus bowl) and at Palo Alto extras are completely free. For some it may not make much difference, but for those who like to order extra, it can add up.
In addition, many dishes from the Palo Alto menu have not made the transfer to the new restaurant. In an attempt to streamline their menu, Oren’s started with a shortened selection in its Mountain View location. Omitted items included most of the salads and the Israeli favorites, which was a disappointment. After receiving numerous requests for omitted dishes, Oren’s briefly implemented a policy of adding dishes upon request, and they are now planning on making the full menu available beginning early October.
The service at the new location is friendly but can be on the slow side. However, this can be attributed to the fact that the restaurant has been open for less than two months, and this may change in the coming months. The biggest advantage of the Mountain View branch is the design of the restaurant. The Palo Alto location is crammed with tables, so customers have to squeeze themselves into their seats. There is no outdoor eating area and not much space inside. By contrast, the Mountain View location is far more spacious than the average restaurant. The restaurant has a counter-order system which allows ordering to move faster and an outdoor patio which allows more customers to be seated.
Overall, the food is still good but the restaurant is in the process of adjusting to the new location. If you’re craving an Oren’s hummus bowl, the Mountain View location may be closer than Palo Alto and more spacious, but for a full menu and a quick service, wait a month or two before visiting.