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Little Sesame, Chefs Ronen Tenne and Nick Wiseman's Quick-Serve Hummus, 19th and L Street Downtown, 6th and H Street in Chinatown

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On 1/4/2016 at 7:01 PM, cheezepowder said:

The Washington Post reports that Little Sesame, a lunchtime hummus shop, is opening tomorrow, Jan. 5 (11:30 am - 3:00 pm Mon-Fri), in the lower level of DGS Deli in Dupont Circle.

From the sounds of things, it seems that Little Sesame is a separate entity getting its start in DGS's lower-level, with a common co-owner in Nick Wiseman. Thus, it will also get its own thread.

Congratulations to the whole team, Nick, Robin, and everyone else - please stay active here and let us know when you expand beyond lunch, get a beer and wine license, open another location, etc. 

All these pop-ups and restaurants within restaurant are parallel to recent college graduates living with mom and dad for a couple of years because they can't afford to pay rent (heck, I did it for a year - I think it's a great idea, and it can even bring the family closer together).

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Went here on Friday for lunch and really enjoyed it. It was crowded but not too crazy a line around 1230pm.  A friend who is a native of Jerusalem and I shared the hummus with fried cauliflower and the one with chopped pastrami and pickled mustard seeds. Both were very good - but not surprisingly the pastrami one was better (their pastrami is just so good). All of the other options, except the pastrami, are vegetarian and I saw several of them and they looked good. The pita is warm and legit. The side salad is simple but has a tasty dressing. Also on the table is an unlabeled bright orange bottle of mildly hot harissa sauce that was rather good for giving a kick to the vegetarian hummus.  The hummus itself is creamy and good - very balanced flavors no big flavor bursts of lemon, garlic, etc that many people may be used to in store-bought hummus (or even prefer).

Service is quick and the place is cozy. It is a basement crammed in with 2 large communal tables. You order at the back and wait 5-10 minutes for either carryout or someone to bring your order. Since the food is pretty simple and comes all at once, the table turnover is quick, but I wouldn't plan on dining in with a big group.

The portion is a good size for the $9-12 price and it is a pretty filling lunch for 1. Some may want to pay the extra buck for a second pita since there is a lot of hummus.

I'd go again but bear in mind the hummus is similar to any good homemade hummus and hummus isn't very hard to make at home if you have a food processor. The one thing missing is the good pita. If anyone had a source for good pita - please let me know (I'm always looking for more options. I haven't been able to master it at home and for now my go to packs from Yaffa Grill downtown).

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The one thing missing is the good pita. If anyone had a source for good pita - please let me know (I'm always looking for more options. I haven't been able to master it at home and for now my go to packs from Yaffa Grill downtown).

If you don't mind trekking to Virginia, Mediterranean Bakery has very good pita.

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Little Sesame is indeed tucked away.  Along Connecticut Ave there is no obvious signage.  If you enter DGS Deli from the front (Conn Ave entrance), walk back to the bar area and there are some stairs leading down to the basement.

I got there around 1:30pm on a Friday and there were two other customers.  The room is fairly small with a couple of long communal tables and counter for ordering.  A string of lights hanging from the ceiling give it a whimsical touch.  

It looks like they have changed the ordering a bit, the hummus is now sold separately (prices range from $7-$9).  You can tack on a salad and pay $10 and add a drink and pay $12.  There are also add-ons of feta ($1), 10 hour egg ($1), pita ($1), pickles ($3).

Overall, I thought is was pretty darn good.  The hummus tastes really fresh and through the glass kitchen window you can see them grinding up batches.  I went with the sweet corn, roasted red pepper, and cilantro version.  I also ordered the pickles and you get a good sized plate of cucumber, carrots, and cauliflower, really if you had a couple of people you could share the pickles.  The pita was good, but could have been warmed up.  The hummus, pita and pickles was more than enough for lunch. 

I was in Jerusalem a couple of years ago and Little Sesame's hummus doesn't quite stack up.  In Jerusalem they add a lot more tahini paste...it's just waaaay richer.  However, for a quick and casual lunch in Dupont, Little Sesame should definitely be on your rotation.       

On 1/11/2016 at 10:38 AM, KeithA said:

The one thing missing is the good pita. If anyone had a source for good pita - please let me know (I'm always looking for more options. I haven't been able to master it at home and for now my go to packs from Yaffa Grill downtown).

KeithA - have you tried the Serious Eats pita recipe?  I've made it several times with very good results.

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Another solid effort at Little Sesame, but when you are serving hummus with two or three ingredients on top, sweating the details really matters.  Case in point, the swiss chard (and i love swiss chard) needed to be cooked down longer, it was still too fiberous. 

The hummus was still fresh tasting, but they need to punch it up more with tahini, lemon and garlic.

With a little tweaking Little Sesame could be really good.  Right now I'd call it good, and worthy for lunch if you are in the area.

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Passed by the storefront and thought it looked like a very interesting concept. I was curious about the menu so tried to see it. While they have their "story" "philosophy" and pretty pictures on the website, no menu!  

I've complained about various restaurant websites before and this one is annoying too...it keeps moving and yet the info I see is not to be found. 

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At the old location, which was in the small basement of DGS Deli, Little Sesame served 5 or 6 different bowls of hummus with pre-selected toppings, mostly vegetarian, usually fairly seasonal, with usually one or two grilled meat options, with fresh baked pita.  They also had a couple of salads.  It was a pretty small space so the menu was limited.

Their hummus was pretty solid, the pita decent, and the veg options usually quite good (although they stopped serving my preferred crispy potato topping).  I would imagine in a larger space they will have more menu options.  It was one of my go to places, and now only two blocks from office (gulp).  

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The construction door was open this morning.  The demo is complete, the build out has begun, but mostly just wooden frames at the moment.  Probably going to take a while.

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On 9/8/2018 at 4:28 PM, NolaCaine said:

It's open. Line out the door at 11:45 Thursday. No, I did not go in. I can't wait in line for hummus.

Well, I did wait in line for hummus, and it gets a solid "meh" from me.  

I went with the #5...chicken shawarma, pickled onions, herb tahini and za'tar. 

The chicken was terrible...nothing shawarma-ish about it, just chunks of low quality, barely seasoned chicken. 

As for the hummus itself...it was fine. Nothing in any way exceptional about it. I'd put the pita a little above average, but again, nothing to write home about. 

I imagine this place caters more to vegetarian tastes, so maybe that's the way to go here. 

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It seems the lines have died down a bit, I arrived around 11:45am and there were only 3 people ahead of me.  When I left there were maybe 10 people in line.  That said, still seems they are working out some kinks and training people.  You could sense things were a little off and it did not appear to be running 100% smoothly. 

I think they have improved their hummus over the old location.  It's lighter yet also creamier.  The pita is about the same. 

I went with the tomato, some cooked, some raw with tahini and pine nuts.  Pretty damn good for lunch.  Considering they are a block away I'll be back.

Little Sesame.jpg

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I went a couple of weeks ago during weekday lunch and it was rather busy. Line moved quick though. The pita and the #4 sweet corn hummus  with Salt Roasted Onion, Pickled Fresno Chili, Taalia & Cilantro was very good. I also had a side of the cucumbers which were ok - nothing to special. The let down was the vanilla soft serve with halva crumble. It was a tiny portion and rather expensive plus it wasn't very good. I had thought it was made with tahini but it is actually dairy-free coconut based ice cream. Skip it, and stick to the creamy hummus. 

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Little Sesame has rotated in some autumn oriented toppings: 

Roast Squash, pomegranate molasses, crispy chickpeas and cilantro (Very good)

Fall greens, harissa sambal, smoked paprika, toasted almonds.

The rest seemed to be pretty much the same:  roasted cauliflower; salt roasted beets; chicken shawarma; keep it classic.

By noon, the line was out the door again.  I'd recommend getting there by 11:45am if you want to avoid the line. 

 

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Ooh, I have to get over there sometime and have the roasted squash with pomegranate molasses etc.! I love all four of those ingredients, and I haven't been there yet to try the hummus. Thanks for the tip on timing.

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The L Street location is eat in or take out.  So I would imagine the new Chinatown location will be the same.

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Stopped by there the other evening.  I'm on a hummus kick.  I'm making my own, taking notes and working on getting a "best in house"  (pfft) version.  My fave in the area is Perfect Pita:  nice quality texture, --love the flavor/ spicing.

The week before I visited Hummus Elite, a similar type of restaurant located in Englewood NJ.  In both cases I had hummus platters.  Some similarities and differences:

Quite enjoyed the hummus at both Little Sesame and Hummus Elite--creamy texture in both cases--creamier than Perfect Pita.  Base spicing is different...and since I had the #1 at Little Sesame with roasted squash pomegranate molasses, chickpeas (crispy) and cilantro...the molasses adds a strong flavor component.   Very tasty.  Frankly I enjoyed the hummus at both places.  An order at Hummus Elite(HE) is substantially larger.  Additionally the pita is somewhat similar..though HE provides you with two ample slices not one as with Little Sesame.  The Autumn #1 at Little Sesame is quite tasty.  Were I working close by downtown, Little Sesame would be in my lunch rotation.  If I wanted to experience more of the ME type environment...I'd dine at Hummus Elite.  But both are excellent imho

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