The gyro wars of Greenwood are dicey territory. With a continent's worth of Middle Eastern restaurants within a few blocks, plus at least another half-dozen Greek restaurants advertising similar options of meat on sticks or in breads, each restaurant must do something to set it apart. Locals are so committed to their choice of restaurant (generally Mr Gyro) that bringing up the merits of a new place must be done carefully. Like suggesting a new haircut might be more flattering to a friend, it requires tact, not insulting their old choice, but just mentioning that this new option could be good. In the short while Hummus Café has been open, I've done this dance a number of times.
Hummus Café has done little to distinguish itself from the outside, still advertising (and serving) gelato, a relic of the dessert spot that used to occupy the site. Inside, though, the personalities of the husband and wife team fill the space with new energy. Locals in the know pop in for the homey food cooked by the friendly Egyptian couple, and learn why the lamb schwarma here would stand up to the neighborhood stand-bys.
The sweetly hilarious gentleman behind the counter at Mr. Gyro may have charmed the neighborhood into thinking that standing at a table under a blaring television is dinner, but Hummus Café, while by no means a fancy restaurant, allows at least for the ease of table service: friendly and efficient, if not five-star. The menu doesn't do much to highlight the differentiating factors, but slice through the subtly crunchy exterior of the beautifully arranged falafel at Hummus Café and the stunning green of the Egyptian version (from the addition of fava beans) reminds you where you are.
Order those falafel on a plate and you can choose the savory rice to accompany, a somewhat greasy blast of flavor that comforts the tastebuds: "It's okay," it says. "Butter is here to save the day." Lighten up the meal with the bright eggplant appetizer to assuage guilt, and you'll surely save enough room for the Egyptian bread pudding, a dish to which Mr Gyro offers no challenge.