Foodie Diaries

HAMSA | Slide into the Middle East on Morningside 

By Jim Ayres

The night I visited Hamsa was the night I fell in love. 

Not with my dining companion (it wasn’t a date.) And not with anyone else. It was with this jewel of an Israeli restaurant, its ambiance and charming service, and amazingly good food. 

You’ll find Hamsa on that storied block of Morningside where once stood The Ginger Man and other memorable drinkeries. Hamsa represents a posh, modern concept of Israeli cuisine—stylish and contemporary with big, classic flavors.  

According to Hamsa’s website, “Our approach to dining is to encourage gathering around a table with great company. Shared plates are a menu focal point, and guests are encouraged to begin their meal with a variety of Salatim followed by small plates.â€Â 

Salatim is a beloved, traditional Israeli spread that includes a variety of salads, dips, spreads, and slaws that are served before a big meal. Sort of an “appetizer extravaganza,†if you will. 

Order Salatim at your table, or during afternoon hours, celebrate Salatim at the bar. Little dishes of Matbucha (tomato salad), Carrot Harissa, Labneh (a soft, flavorful Middle Eastern cheese), Baba Ghanoush, Squash and/or Lemon Tahini, Shaved Tomato and Feta, Muhamara (red pepper dip) and pickled vegetables jostle for room alongside fresh pita. 

After all this, we somehow found room for entrees.  

Hamsa’s Lamb Spareribs with couscous, spinach, pine nuts, apricots, cranberries, and almonds have a marbled richness that accents the meat’s earthy and distinctive taste. Balanced by a mild natural sweetness, these ribs offer a tender, melt-in-your-mouth experience. 

Hangar Steak is equally swoon-worthy. It’s painted with Za’atar butter and Skor Dalia (a lush garlic sauce) and accompanied by Chimichurri and turmeric potatoes. This cut is sometimes known as “butcher’s steak†because butchers would often keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale, and I can see why! Served medium-rare, this is a truly elevated meat and potatoes dinner. 

Note: While the menu options described above are still available, the entrée selection has been pared down recently as Hamsa emphasizes its Yalla Yalla Experience tasting menu. As they say, “Put yourself in our hands as we take you on a journey through our menu.†I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. 

Befitting the cuisine, we chose a bottle of 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from Galilee — Chateau de Galilee. This medium-bodied wine offers a substantial mouthfeel without being too heavy. 

And who could forget cocktails? Tel A Viva was a highlight — an Israeli margarita? It’s mixed with Espolon reposado, St. George spiced pear liqueur, Hellfire bitters, and ginger syrup. I loved it so much that I had two! 

My friend savored his Smoked Old Fashioned, a Maker’s Mark “Doris Metropolitan Edition†cocktail with Earl Grey syrup, bitters, and a bit of hickory smoke.  

A little birdy tells me there’s belly dancing and much bacchanalia on Thursday nights. If you go then, please tell me about it! 

The easiest way to park at Hamsa is by valet in the abutting garage. That way you can walk a few steps to the front door and into foodie nirvana! 

5555 Morningside Drive, Suite 100
Houston, TX 77005