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Oren?s Hummus Mountain View: bigger, faster and opening Monday

Uploaded: Jul 9, 2014
The wait is over: Oren's Hummus, famed for its fresh, direct-from-Israel hummus, flavorful meat skewers and stuffed-to-the-gill pita sandwiches, will be opening on Castro Street in downtown Mountain View on Monday, July 14.

Fans of the restaurant on University Avenue in Palo Alto will get a lot of the same food-wise, plus a food new options served faster and in a much larger space.

With high ceilings and double the seating ? Castro Street has 60 seats inside, plus 40 seats on a small outdoor patio along the downtown thoroughfare, compared to Univeristy Avenue's 50 total -- the space at 126 Castro St. will make diners used to the Palo Alto location feel like they can finally breathe while they rip, scoop and eat (the Israeli eatery's tagline, featured prominently with instructional images on the wall in both locations).

The Oren's Hummus mantra: rip, scoop, eat.

To cut down on wait time, Mountain View will also be counter service rather than sit-down. There is also an area designated for take-out orders, which make up 36 to 38 percent of Oren's business, said co-owner Mistie Cohen. A small flat-screen TV has been installed above a grab-and-go case near the ordering counter where to-go customers' names will appear when their order is ready.

"Quick-casual service is the way we're referring to it," Cohen said Wednesday, adding they're conscious of the fact that many Oren's patrons are coming in to grab something to eat before getting back to work quickly.

"We've taken that model of -- we have a lot of dine in, but we have a huge rapport with some of the people who want to do it to go."

Oren's online ordering option will also extend to Mountain View.

Food-wise, Mountain View has a few new items, all eggplant-focused. A new pita sandwich, the "sabich," ($9) comes with fried eggplant, hardboiled egg, Amba sauce, hummus, cucumber, tomato, red onion, herbs, pickles and tahini. Two new dips will also make their debut Monday. One is "Greek style," made from grilled eggplant pureed with tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, dill, chives and parsley. The second is more unique, dubbed "Oren's Eggplant," made from fried eggplant, caramelized onions, a secret spice mix and hard-boiled egg, puree'd all together.

"The egg gives it a little bit of thickness and the caramelized onion makes it really sweet and then you punch it with spices," said chef David Cohen. "We have a couple secret spices that we use for our skewer and our kebab and now for this." (Pssst: The spices, like all Oren's garbanzos, are also imported straight from Israeli.)

To top it all off, this new location won't be the company's last. Mistie said they're looking at opening two more locations in the next year and have checked out spaces in San Francisco and Cupertino. Stay tuned.

Oren's Hummus
126 Castro St., Mountain View

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm

The best falafel and hummus for the money and without a long wait I have found in the area is at Willow and Gilbert called Mardini's Gourmet Deli. I'm not crazy about much else there, it's a bit of a hole in ground, just opened and growing and it was by chance we stopped in one time, but their hummus and falafel are like the best in the whole area at least in Palo Alto and 1 city away. I love Mediterranean food and on University is also Gyro Gryo another of my favorites, the best overall Mediterranean in the area at reasonable prices.

I liked Oren's too, but the prices are high, it's unpleasantly crowded and noisy, service mediocre and the food so rich and filling it was too much. Too much oil.

I'd just urge people who like falafel to grab some at Mardini's to go sometime and see.

Another good place that manages to create a good value for Mediterranean food is Gyros House on Castro in Mountain View.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jul 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I suggest readers to refrain from passing judgment on a restaurant like Oren's of Mountain View *WHICH HASN'T EVEN OPENED UP FOR BUSINESS YET".

Heck, even if you were there on opening day (this coming Monday), I'm not sure if that's a good representation of the typical business day. Normally, I would wait at least a year to drop by a new restaurant to let them figure out all the issues in the daily operations of running the joint (there's usually a heavy staff turnover rate at any restaurant within the first 6-12 months).

It's helpful that the previous poster mentioned some alternatives, however criticizing a local place that isn't even open yet isn't particularly neighborly and welcoming. This is a good reflection on the person who made the comment, much more so than the establishment they are commenting on.

Posted by Stats, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks,
on Jul 12, 2014 at 9:29 pm

You are aware that Oren's already had a store in Palo Alto ? Crescent's review would be based on the current PA operation. And Mardini's is definitely worth trying for hummus and gyros - better in my mind, than Oren's as well.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:25 pm

I am perfectly aware that Oren's already has a store on University Ave in Palo Alto.

It would be worth reserving judgment on the Mountain View operation until it is actually open for business, particularly in matters that relate to service and ambiance.

[Portion of post removed.]

I will point out that this is a locally owned business and blasting the second store before it even opens for business isn't particularly neighborly behavior.

[Portion of post removed.]

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:04 am

[Portion of post removed.]

I and probably others are in search of that perfect Mediterranean place with value and great food, just doing what I can to make the market efficient and transparent. If I can motivate a place to decrease prices and increase quality I'm happy for that. The big problem in Palo Alto is the rents which cripples any well meaning restaurant out of the gate by forcing high prices. To excel in this area is really noteworthy.

[Portion of post removed.]

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:41 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Jay, good luck dissuading people from strong statements about restaurants they've never even tried (let alone, opinions about restaurants they've tried cursorily, but not enough to learn much about).

Excluding opinions about restaurants not tried, or even open yet, might improve the average online information about them. It'd also eliminate some fraction of Yelp postings and maybe half of all comments on internet restaurant-discussion sites. Even the published Zagat Guide's editors evidently see nothing ridiculous about "reviewing" a restaurant based solely on a related one in a distant city (never considering differences in local set-up, staff, menu, etc.)

"Given any excuse at all, 99.624% of people will sound off. Given no excuse at all, 99.608% of them will do so." (Mary-Claire van Leunen)

Posted by GoodFood, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:22 am

It sure would be great if Oren's Hummus in PA could find a larger space. It's business would probably double and the customers would be happier. It's a zoo in there and you can't even find a space to wait for take out. When you dine in most likely you will get a purse or elbow in your face as people squeeze into the tables to sit down. Love the food, but the prices are high.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:01 am

This is really funny ... Max and Jay are behaving like these two restaurants will be completely unrelated. Isn't the purpose of calling the restaurant the same name to take advantage of a popular brand? Oren's is a very popular place, so popular they are going to open another restaurant. Now, what would be the purpose if it was not the same menu, food, and experience as the original ... assuming there are not others?

Is the McDonald's in Mountain View different from the one in Palo Alto, or East Palo Alto? And why wouldn't comments about the original be in order. I'd be happy if Oren's in MV could exceed the experience of Palo Alto because "Goodfood" is right, it is a crowded expensive experience that for me is not something I relish. Even if MV is totally different and better, great for MV'ers, but I don't want to drive all the way over there.

Isn't the object of restaurant review to talk about restaurants, so why is it some kind of criminal act to be a bit critical? If I was not telling the truth, or was working for one place or another, or unfairly attacking or being disparaging that would be another thing, but I and others add something with comments about our experiences, which is the reason Yelp exists and people go there.

I am as positive as the next guy, but damn ... I have to say I am getting really tired of the relentless pursuit of "zombie positivism". Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a whole book about how people are being trained to be smiling phonies in order to get an hold a job ... just to survive. And where has this trend gotten us?

Go to Internet boards and you notice now there is only a "thumbs up" button. You-Tube now still has a "thumbs-down" button but they do not show you the count.

This is the manipulation of reality by Internet. The presentation of doctored and manipulated data to people in order to manipulate their opinions, feelings and behavior. It is completely useless show to "likes" without showing "dislikes"m "Thumbs-Downs" and a total viewers. There needs to be a law to make this a very serious crime ... because it is no different from payola in the old radio days.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:53 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Clarification: I certainly don't maintain, and have never asserted that, "these two restaurants will be completely unrelated." Please, read my remarks before responding to them.

Nor do I claim that people can't find rationalizations for expressing strong opinions about restaurants they have not tried, even once. Doing so is a manifestation of human nature.

I only maintain that opinions about restaurants not yet tried have a history of demonstrating limited value for me and for other restaurant customers. If someone has tried a "related" restaurant, and expresses an honest opinion about that one, it is helpful, but hardly a substitute for experience with the new restaurant in question.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Please also note that Elena's article above is all about a MOUNTAIN VIEW restaurant and will be of greatest interest to Mountain View diners, regardless of the existence or characteristics of other businesses operated by the same group.

The problem with extrapolating from one member of a restaurant group to others is the same as what I cited above in an example from the published Zagat guide: there are differences in space, local market, personnel, often even menu. While MacDonald's strives for extreme uniformity and predictablity, it's an extreme of the restaurant industry and no one will know how closely the new downtown-MV Oren's resembles that in PA until they have TRIED IT.

Preferably a few times, after it has been open a few months to iron out any startup quirks.

Posted by Crack me up, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Thanks CrescentparkAnon,
For the tip and the review. I guess Max missed that part about "fresh, direct-from-Israel hummus", ie both places are serving exactly the same Hummus. Just like exactly the same McDonald's beef burger, fresh from McDonaldland. Max might have a point about the ambience and service at Mountain View. Until they open we won't know. But the food ... its the same.
I had Oren's on my restaurant list, but now will hearing about how overpriced it is as well as oily, I will be trying Mardini's out. I've often passed by it without a clue, so thanks for the tip.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

> Max might have a point about the ambience and service at Mountain View.

Oh, I hope so! ;-) There is clearly something Oren's is doing right, so make up your mind for yourself.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jul 15, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I will point out that I noted the possible ambiance and service differences very early on in this discussion, before Mr. Hauser even posted.

Their hummus is made here from scratch, using ingredients imported from Israel (from garbanzo beans, spices, etc); they are not importing the finished product. Even if they follow a recipe there will be some variation, that's an inherent characteristic of cooking, particularly with beans which have different moisture content, potency of the spices, etc.

While one would expect a fair amount of consistency, there will be differences.

I look forward to trying Oren's Hummus in Mountain View in a few months, once things have settled down and most of the bumps have been smoothed over.

Posted by Christopher, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm

I tried Oren's in Mountain View on Monday night. I had the hummus with ground beef and it was excellent! This will definitely be on my regular rotation including take out as I walk home from Caltrain. I also grabbed a container of greek eggplant dip from the take out refrigerator which I had the next day. Also very good. But the hummus dish was the best I've ever had.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

I too tried Oren's when it opened, and so far I think it's a worthwhile addition to our downtown-MV restaurant scene, adding another bright, modern semi-self-service place delivering substantial, and even reasonably health-conscious, meals at around $10.

One difference from Palo Alto is that Castro Street already has more nearby Middle-Eastern options (I can think of five, offhand, not counting at least three other restaurants with nominally Latin-European menus that also have Middle-Eastern influences), many of which also serve pita breads and hummus (in regional variations) as part of their menus.

On the other hand, Oren's is in the prime lower-100 Castro St. addresses, directly opposite the train station. When I passed by again Tuesday evening, its outdoor business was bustling and as the managing owner quipped, Oren's hasn't even advertised yet. Its location in the peak pedestrian zone is a built-in advertisement.

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