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The Hummus Shops of Old Akko

El Jazzar St, Acre, Israel
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The Great Akko Hummus Wars Acre  Israel

The Great Akko Hummus Wars

OK, so there's no real war and the skirmishing isn't all that great. In fact, everyone claims to get along. Be that as it may, up in Akko, the coastal city in far northern Israel reputed by many to have the best hummus in the country, if not the whole Middle East, three shops are vying for top laurels: Humus Said, Abu Sohil, and Hummus Issa.

Humus Said is the most famous of the three and located near the north end of the market in the Old City (ask locals to point the way). Regional fans travel from far away just for a plate of the fabled chickpea-and-tahini mash that's been produced here for more than 35 years. Also try the mashawsha (aka msabbaha), a textural variation on hummus. Humus Said closes in the early afternoon and all day on Saturday.

Abu Sohil is found nearby on Salah ad Din, the car-choked street through the northeast corner of the Old City. Not as big or bright as Said, it nevertheless commands the same attention, with locals scrumming to get in for a bite. The hummus here is always made fresh. Try a plate with pine nuts or ground beef.

My personal preference was for the even smaller Hummus Issa, a spotless hole-in-the-wall joint on the open square directly across from Abu Sohil. Recommended to me as serving more typical 'village-style' humus (less oily than the others), it lived up to its reputation.

In all cases, your hummus order comes with fresh-baked pita bread and a small plate of olives, pickles, and fresh sliced tomatoes and onion.