The owners of one of Houston’s most creative steakhouses are bringing modern Israeli cuisine to Rice Village. Doris Metropolitan owners Itai Ben Eli, Itamar Levy, and chef Sash Kurgan will open Hamsa next summer.
Located in the former Doc Holliday’s space at 5555 Morningside Dr., Hamsa will feature a “multi-million dollar rebuild,” that will include a tree-shaded patio designed by New York firm Future Green Studio, according to a release.
Modern Israeli cuisine blends a range of disparate elements from the country’s various immigrant traditions such as Ashkenazi Jewish, Lebanese, Syrian, and Moroccan with elevated plating and locally sourced ingredients. The genre has become a critically acclaimed phenomenon across the country — earning James Beard Awards for restaurants such as Zahav in Philadelphia and Shaya in New Orleans — but it hasn't come to Houston; the closest attempt to executing the style came at One Fifth Mediterranean.
Ben Eli tells CultureMap that he and his partners had been interested in sharing their take on the cuisine of their homeland but didn’t find the right opportunity until Rice Village property manager Edge Realty Partners approached them about opening in the development. Israeli elements have always been part of Doris Metropolitan’s menu — consider the kebabs, artichoke salad, and freshly-baked breads — but that restaurant operates within the genre of a steakhouse. Hamsa will bring the Israeli flavors to the forefront.
“We like to bring a Middle Eastern flair to our cuisine, which is the cuisine we grew up with and love,” Ben Eli says. “We always wanted to highlight it, and I feel like we finally have the right opportunity to do so.”
Hamsa will feature dishes Ben Eli describes as “classics” such as hummus, kebabs, and eggplant as well as freshly baked pita bread. Since the menu won’t be built around dry-aged Prime steaks, expect it to be more family-friendly and affordable than Doris.
In addition to the food, Hamsa’s beverage offerings will feature a diverse array of wines with a focus on Israeli producers. As for the restaurant’s name, it refers to an open hand symbol common throughout the Middle East that’s said to ward off the evil eye.
“Hamsa is a prime example of the pivotal shift happening in Rice Village,” said Morgan Lera, Rice Management Company’s senior investment associate, in a statement. “Its future arrival reflects the originality and uniqueness we’re targeting, while perfectly complementing the other concepts already in the district.”
Rice Village has steadily upgraded its dining options over the last few years. In 2019, the area added salad restaurant Sweetgreen, sandwich shop Mendocino Farms, wine-driven concept Sixty Vines, and the Politan Row food hall. With tapas bar Mi Luna having closed last year, more changes may be coming to the area soon.