Umm, no-brainer. West Jerusalem hotels put on a mean Israeli breakfast — meaning, an array of cheeses and fish rich in variety and freshness — but are not otherwise known for quality cuisine. At the risk of sounding, well, elitist, these establishments cater to travelers whose tastes tend to run to less than adventurous.
No, the real east-west hummus contest would be between Pinati’s (just off the Midrehov on King George) and Abu Shukri (a hundred meters or so into Damascus Gate, at the left fork.)
Both places come with just the right tone of service — the kind that in the Midwest would be delivered with a sweet if edgy, "Done now, hon?" but which in Jerusalem’s West comes with a gruff "Need the table, haboob" and at Abu Shukri with an equally as eloquent arched eyebrow.
I’m a journalist, so I won’t reveal my preference. In fact, I’ll elevate myself to peace-broker: Pinati’s has the smooth, lemon-infused texture of a sweet, melancholy memory; at Abu Shukri, the smoke in the aftertaste, the crunch in the pine nuts, the tinge of bitterness in the rivulets of olive oil yank you into the very real present.
The Middle East: memories and reality. We need them both.