Last week, I set out to review Humoveh, the Middle Eastern stall at the new High Street Place food hall at the corner of High and Federal streets, with stalls from vendors ranging from star chef Tiffani Faison (pizza, champagne) to Mike & Patty’s (legendary breakfast sandwiches) to Mamaleh’s Delicatessen (Jewish deli, of course). High Street Place was slated to open right as the pandemic started. It sat untouched for two years until opening with a splash in March.
But a question hung in the air like the lingering aroma of deep-dish pizza and French fries: Would people actually visit? With workers adopting remote schedules, did anyone even dine downtown anymore? Was commuting—and going to lunch—so 2019?
On my first visit in early spring, I worried about its fate. The streets were barren. It was frighteningly easy to park. Is a food lineup stellar if nobody’s there to enjoy it?
Then, I visited again last week. I breezed into the city expecting easy parking and zero lines. Silly me! It took me 45 minutes to find parking in a jam-packed garage next to High Street Place; I finally abandoned my car with a sympathetic valet and bolted to meet my dining companion. Upon arrival, I was amazed—and relieved—to find the place positively buzzing with office workers, random families and tourists dragging suitcases. This was not the High Street Place of March 2022.
Humoveh is a street-food-inspired stall known for lavash paninis and hummus. Conveniently, High Street Place allows diners to order ahead from their phones; no need to wait in line. My companion and I were delighted. Just one problem: The system was down. After refreshing a few times to no avail, I headed inside—no small feat; the place was packed!—and flagged down a sympathetic Humoveh cashier. She let me cut in line (sorry, people), took my order and promised it would be ready in 10 minutes. She was as good as her word.
As for the food: We both loved the mezze platter. It’s a dollop apiece of hummus, baba ganoush, walnut harissa, labne, Armenian caponata and grilled lavash that looks like Bob Ross’s easel. The hummus is light and creamy. The labne is divine; slightly sour, very creamy, and rich. The walnut harissa is smoky and nutty, with warm notes of—is it cumin? Paprika? It’s good enough to eat on its own. Baba ghanoush is studded with juicy little pomegranate seeds, a nice surprise. The Armenian caponata has gloriously ripe, juicy chopped tomatoes, perfectly in season. And the lavash is airy and savory, the ideal scooping vehicle.
The stall specializes in lavash panini, so I opted for the cauliflower shawarma, a compact, hand-held rollup of roasted vegetables, walnut harissa, chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots and a hint of cilantro. I recommend getting this hot. I loved my first few bites—the creaminess of the toasty cauliflower offset with that zingy harissa. But it’s not easily re-heated; each element will congeal. So eat up—you’ll want to! The chicken kebab was our sole disappointment. My dining companion pronounced the diced poultry pieces “fatty.”
Ginger lemonade is refreshing; there are other flavors, like mint-honey-lime and date. It’s a nice change of pace from the standard-issue sodas.
My advice: Definitely share a mezze platter, and definitely get there early. Downtown is back, baby.