Hummus where the heart is
Hidden gem: East Austin food truck among most underrated spots in town
In a town crawling with influencers, Yelpers, and various other people who obsessively document everything they eat, it can be difficult to find a place that’s truly off the radar. It’s harder still to find a place that is both off the radar and actually good. But somehow a new food trailer has managed to slip by the iPhone paparazzi and emerge as the rarest type of Austin restaurant: a hidden gem.
Hummus Among Us is the brainchild of chef Berty Richter, a recent Austin transplant whose resumé includes stints at restaurants from Israel to New York City — including a stop at soon-to-shutter Union Square mainstay Blue Water Grill. Although that career allowed him to study haute cuisine techniques and develop a global palate, the food of his youth spent in a heavily Turkish neighborhood in Israel was never far from his mind.
Upon moving to Austin, Richter realized that places serving Eastern Mediterranean cuisine were few and far between, so he decided to dip his toes into the hospitality scene with a few appearances at charity events like Farmgrass Fest. That led to a well-received series of pop-ups at east side bar Kitty Cohen’s (the bar still occasionally hosts Richter), and a successful crowdfunding campaign leading up to a permanent location. In late September, Richter quietly opened the Hummus Among Us truck at 1906 E. Cesar Chavez St., the same lot where Northern Thai trailer Dee Dee is parked.
As the truck’s name implies, the menu focuses on meze staple hummus. The classic version has a velvety base flecked with whole marinated chickpeas and parsley, but Richter also offers a heartier version made with shawarma-spiced smoked brisket and grilled onions. Specials allow the chef to explore less traditional flavors, like a recent batch featuring souvlaki-style marinated chicken and a hatch chili salsa. All are served with pita, of course, a thicker, fluffier version than the cardboard-like supermarket rounds epidemic in Austin.
The dense, chewy pita make the base of the sabich, a traditional Mizrahi Jewish sandwich made with hummus, boiled egg, and fried eggplant drizzled with schug (a Yemeni hot chili sauce) and amba (a Middle Eastern condiment made of fermented mangos). A light Israeli salad of cucumbers tomatoes, and spices and an order of house pickles makes the ideal side. We haven’t yet tried the Jerusalem Nachos — za’atar-seasoned pita chips topped with just about every ingredient used in the other dishes — but we can’t imagine a better way to sober up after a happy hour at the nearby Craftsman or Stay Gold bars.