An otherwise typical Sunoco gas station sitting at the corner of Columbia and Sprague roads in Olmsted Falls has quickly become the talk of the town for a reason that would leave most foodies in any other city scratching their heads: homemade hummus.
Social media discussions on the topic of “gas station hummus” have recently gone viral in Cleveland, spreading the word about several filling stations in the city and surrounding suburbs that are now carrying homemade hummus in their delis and food counters. The product is so loved by Clevelanders that it’s caught media attention.
At the forefront of these conversations is Momma Mary’s, a small counter inside the Columbia Road Sunoco that barely fits two people. Mary Dari and her son, Khalil, run Momma Mary’s out of the station. Mary usually works overnights to make the hummus and keep up with the demand.
“I make all of my hummus with love, from my heart—and all natural ingredients,” Mary says and laughs. “That’s why it tastes so good. My mother taught me how to cook; I’ve been cooking since I was 12. I do not use a recipe; I have no need for one.”
T-shirts available in the store boast of Mary’s being “The Best Hummus In The World,” so a taste test is in order. Mary’s hummus is very smooth and creamy, and slightly thinner than a typical recipe. The plain version is topped with olive oil that Mary imports directly from southern Europe; the after-taste is almost that of a smooth, red wine. The beef-bacon variety is a meat-lover’s dream, but doesn’t overtake the creamy texture of the hummus.
Mary is best known for the clever and unusual varieties of hummus she creates that draws customers back, such as the jalapeno and dill pickle varieties. Several of Mary’s hummus blends are seasonal, like the pumpkin spice and pineapple. She makes a chocolate hummus that is exclusive to Valentine’s Day only.
Even the pita chips earn rave reviews—a bag of three is suitable for one tub of hummus. The chips are cut in the perfect size for dipping and are soft, kept wrapped in paper bags under heat lamps until served.
The buzz around Momma Mary’s hummus continues to grow. As Cleveland continues its reign as one of the top food tourism destinations in the U.S., we can boast that even our gas station food is worth the trip.