June 27, 2022



5 things about Hamsa restaurant in Houston’s Rice Village

3 min read

You may have noticed the signs of a restaurant-to-be when walking or driving along Morningside Drive in Rice Village. Today, you can go in and scope it out for yourself.

Hamsa opens its doors May 11 for lunch and dinner, bringing Middle Eastern classics to the neighborhood. While Israeli cafes have long existed in Houston, this concept, with its notable wine list and sophisticated space—complete with a chef’s table and Champagne wall—is the first of its kind in the city.

Here are five things you should know about Hamsa before venturing in for a taste.

1. You may already be fans of the team behind Hamsa.

Hamsa is the latest concept from Sof Hospitality, a group formed by owners Itai Ben Eli, Itamar Levy and Sash Kurgan, who also operate Doris Metropolitan and Badolina Bakery. The trio, born and raised in Israel, earned critical acclaim by incorporating the dynamic flavors and ingredients of Middle Eastern cuisine into steakhouse classics at Doris.

An impressive follow-up that opened last year, Badolina is a collaboration between Sof Hospitality and Doris’ talented pastry chef, Michal Michaeli, who put sweet and savory Jewish specialties like babka and burekas at the forefront.

See also  Molina's Cantina is Houston's oldest Tex-Mex restaurant

The skewers come on actual swords at Hamsa.

The skewers come on actual swords at Hamsa.

Kirsten Gilliam

2. Sharing is the move at Hamsa—you won’t leave hungry.

Plenty of restaurants profess to have shareable plates, but Hamsa actually follows through with bountiful spreads. The dishes here are meant to be huddled over and passed around the table. The menu features various salatim—salads in Hebrew—presented with airy pita rounds and three different types of hummus, and small plates like beef tartare and mussels with, you guessed it, more pita.

With Hamsa’s skewers, the feasting truly begins. Assembled on swords that rest on dinner plates, meat, seafood and vegetables are removed by sliding them down their perch, then complemented by turmeric potatoes and Israeli salad; the dish is served as a feast for at least four people. Fun fact: The restaurant houses its own charcoal grill, used exclusively to cook the skewers.

3. You’ll have no problem with no meat.

Hamsa’s menu is 80 percent meatless, giving vegetarians full access to all the dining fun, beginning with dips like baba ganoush, labneh, carrot harissa and shakshuka hummus, to heartier plates like cauliflower couscous, baladi eggplant with tahini, and falafel served alongside red cabbage salad.

You may have had FOMO when the meat-eaters at your table received their head-turning skewers, but there’s no need to feel left out. Hamsa has a king oyster mushroom skewer generously drizzled with chimichurri that rivals even the lamb and beef kebab.

Hamsa delivers on the classics like hummus and pita bread.

Hamsa delivers on the classics like hummus and pita bread.

Kirsten Gilliam

4. Eating with your hands is not frowned upon.

With fresh and fluffy pita bread ever present, it is impossible to not want to eat with your hands. Prepared daily in house, and with baskets refilled religiously by staff, Hamsa’s pita bread ought to serve as the only vehicle with which you transport tender marinated meat, creamy goat cheese with whole fennel, and other such savory foods to your mouth. While desserts like basboosa malabi cake and chocolate nemesis halvah look good enough to dive into face first, proper flatware is recommended for those.

Beef tartare is served with an egg and pita at Hamsa.

Beef tartare is served with an egg and pita at Hamsa.

Kirsten Gilliam

5. The Israeli wine list will have you swapping out your cocktail.

You can’t go wrong with kicking off your meal with an Israeli spritz, but you’ll want to take a gander at Hamsa’s substantial wine list, too. The collection, curated by general manager and sommelier Melissa Rogers, boasts more than 150 wines from around the globe, including Israeli and Lebanese selections.

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