Hummus where the heart is
North Side pizzeria quietly transforms into family-owned Lebanese cafe
One of the best things about a booming restaurant scene is the variety of new options available in San Antonio. Far from being a town filled with just Tex-Mex and barbecue, Alamo City now offers flavors from almost everywhere in the world.
The latest in global cuisine is Lebanese spot Mr. Chickpea, located at 17700 San Pedro Ave. Ste. 108. Co-owner Charbel Nader tells CultureMap that the restaurant quietly debuted in February but has been waiting to announce its grand opening until the business secures a beer and wine permit.
Nader says his family always planned to open a Lebanese restaurant when moving to the San Antonio area almost 10 years ago. His father, also a co-owner, had previously operated a similar restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island.
There was one problem, however; the family was ahead of the curve. “No one knew what hummus was,” jokes Nader.
The foodie revolution has since come to the area, so the family decided to convert the Ray’s Pizzeria they were operating into Mr. Chickpea. Using time-honored recipes, they developed a menu of traditional dishes like labneh, stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanoush, and tabouli.
Many of the offerings are completely plant-based. Nader says they decided to highlight those dishes on the menu because so much of the country’s cuisine is naturally vegan.
"We take a lot of pride in our food,” he says, noting that everything is made from scratch with no shortcuts, preservatives, or additives.
Once up and running with Lebanese beers and wines on the shelves, Nader says the family is going to take their hummus on the road. In fact, one of the main reasons they converted the pizzeria was so they could start commercially packaging hummus.
“Our food is what you would expect if you went to Lebanon,” Nader says. Luckily, it’s easy to find in the heart of South Texas.