On the east side of the East Village and the west side of the West Village, hummus and pitas are creating a frenzy. Last week, Gothamist wandered into 323 West 11th Street, Turks & Frogs, a former Turkish antique store turned wine bar, for a cozy night surrounded by candlesticks and urns, all serving as décor but also all for sale.

turks_frogs.jpgBackgammon and chess boards sit on the back table beside inviting leather couches. All you have to do is choose from their extensive selection of wines, pick from a few authentic Turkish appetizers, lean back, and enjoy.

The appetizers, including hummus, lebni, a thick yogurt dip with walnuts, stuffed grape leaves, and a roasted eggplant salad, come with an ample basket of pita bread for dipping. Gothamist recommends trying a combination salad plate so you can sample a variety of the salads at once. After a few hours of appetizers, wine, and enjoying the ambient light, ask your server the price of the urn by your head, the couch you’ve been resting on, or Gothamist’s favorite, the gramophone. For the right price, you could walk out with a permanent souvenir for your home.

Next, head eastward past 1st Avenue to 109 St. Mark’s place until you get to The Hummus Place, a nook of a restaurant run by chef and owner, Nitzan Raz. Here, you can have hummus, hummus, or hummus, complimented by a cucumber and tomato salad, soup, and house made lemonade garnished with fresh mint leaves.

hummus_1.jpgWhen Gothamist stopped in, our server enthusiastically squatted by our chairs, padded with colorful striped pillows, and gushed over our hummus options. The Hummus Fool is topped with warm fava beans and a hard boiled egg, the Hummus Tahini is drizzled with olive oil, paprika, and extra tahini, and the Hummus Masbacha is topped with soft, whole chickpeas.

hummus_2.jpgGothamist took our server’s recommendation to order the combination topping plate, the fourth option, or hummus with a little of all the various toppings available. We also tried the cucumber and tomato salad dressed in vinaigrette, and ordered glasses of the tart, but perfectly tangy lemonade.

Not only did the hummus arrive looking as beautiful as it was delicious, but the thick, chewy pita bread was so fresh it nearly scorched our hands as we pulled it into pieces for dipping. The salad was a bit overdressed with vinegar, but cut the heat and creaminess of the rich hummus. The restaurant also provides a small plate of chopped raw onions, green olives; their saltiness is refreshing. Gothamist has high standards for hummus and The Hummus Place is no let down. We suggest starting on the west side for Turkish wine at Turks & Frogs, then strolling east for a warm, filling, and nourishing meal at 109 St. Mark’s Place.

Turks & Frogs, 323 West 11th Street, West Village, (212) 691-8875.
The Hummus Place, 109 St. Mark’s Place, East Village, (212) 529-9198