The hummus comes one of five ways. Photo by Nicole Sprinkle

The hummus comes one of five ways. Photo by Nicole Sprinkle

A New Hummus Bar on Capitol Hill Delivers Unexpected Brilliance

A lively atmosphere and fantastic food make Aviv a delectable destination.

I went to Aviv Hummus Bar (107 15th Ave. E, 323-7483) expecting a sterile counter, a menu on the board above, and some hummus to go—maybe pretty good hummus, even, but nothing to get too jazzed about.

Instead, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the colorful Capitol Hill space with counter seating, as well as real tables and chairs and real service, was thrumming with conversations and with staff stirring large bowls of hummus in a particular fashion: swirling swaths of it to the outer edges to make room for toppings in the center. This super-smooth hummus is a perfect blend of dense and creamy, and not in the least bit overly oily. There are five variations: the classic (no toppings); with falafel; with shawarma-spiced ground beef; with mushrooms and sautéed onions; and a made-to-order version, which I’ll get to.

Besides the hummus, there’s fried-to-order falafel served stuffed in a pita or on a plate, though you can also get it as a small or large side. We did the latter, just to try it. The larger size, with seven pieces, comes atop a swirl of pure tahina. The little rounds are comely with a just-right crisp on the outside and a supple filling loaded with herbaceous flavor. Just a dot or two of that nutty, gorgeous, sesame-forward tahina is all it needs. Since my daughter was with us, we also ordered the “cheeps”: golden, slightly thick fries with crunch and bend, copiously dusted with shawarma spice, the Middle Eastern seasoning typically used to flavor chicken cooked on a rotating spit. The spices can vary a bit depending upon who makes it, but most include cumin, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, salt, and black pepper. The server wouldn’t divulge the exact recipe, but suffice to say it made for addictive, finger-licking fries. They too come with tahina for dipping. Another side, the “saladt,” was a simple but urgently fresh combination of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, and parsley dressed in lemon and olive oil. It’s a lovely addition to the fried food.

So about that hummus. We tried two different versions. The basar (shawarma-spiced beef) comes minced and adorned with pine nuts. It’s earthy and bold and a harmonious partner to the hummus. But what really rocked our palates was that made-to-order version, the masab cha. In it, the chickpeas are half-mashed and loaded with lemon and garlic. Despite its chunkiness, it manages to be supremely smooth—more like the texture of a creamy dip—and, sopped up with warm, puffy, rounds of pita, it’s impossible to put down. We ordered another to go and had it again for dinner. If you choose to spice up any items, a Yemeni s’chug sauce is available for $1. Red-pepper-based, it gets its acidic tang from the likes of parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and other spices like cumin. It’s one of my new favorite hot sauces, mainly because it imparts both heat and complexity. Also, to any order, you can add a boiled egg, tahina, or falafel. Alcohol is limited to beer and wine, and there are sodas and ginger beer for kids.

Aviv also gets major points for straddling the line of fast/casual and sit-down restaurant with aplomb. The bright space features white brick walls with hand-painted chickpeas scattered about on it, along with the slogan “Hummus where the heart is.” There are also plants, multicolored stools, and chairs—lime green, purple, turquoise, yellow—and floating shelves that hold colorful glass vials filled with pickled things. Even the table centerpieces are creative: little succulent plants embedded in chickpeas, rather than dirt or sand. The whole effect is cheery and modern, and the large blonde-wood bar top with a corrugated tin base, behind which at least four people were busy prepping, serves as the heart of the space. I loved how families and hipsters were coexisting, everyone seemingly buoyed on a gray day by the lively atmosphere and the fantastic food. Let’s hope they expand beyond Capitol Hill. Based on early evidence, it seems like a missed opportunity if they don’t.

nsprinkle@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Fire Department Twitter page
Mercer Island Marine Patrol recovers Bellevue man who drowned in Lake Washington

Mercer Island’s Marine Patrol recovered an adult male who drowned in Lake… Continue reading

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17, 2020. Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan
Vaccination data reveals disparities among regions and race

South King County and certain minority groups are far behind on COVID-19 vaccine goals.

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. 	File photo
Researchers track ‘mysterious’ kokanee salmon in region

Kokanee in Lake Washington and Sammamish are genetically unique. Over the past decades, their numbers have dwindled.

A protective mask hanging on a front door. (Sound Publishing file photo)
King County to lift indoor mask mandate on June 29

About 1.3 million county residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.

Pills taken during police investigation (photo credit: Bellevue Police)
Renton man charged with homicide after selling fentanyl pills to a Bellevue woman

Law enforcement warns of an alarming increase in fentanyl deaths.

File photo
King County leaders propose emergency funding for gun violence prevention initiative

Sixty-nine people were reportedly shot during the first quarter of 2021.

Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Fire Department Twitter page
MIPD Marine Patrol members search for missing man in Lake Washington

Members of the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) Marine Patrol and Bellevue… Continue reading

King County logo
Auditors find racial disparities in King County contracts

BIPOC-owned businesses earn contract bids at a much lower rate than white-owned businesses.

Most Read