When Israeli-born Omri Casspi was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2009, he had a dilemma that had nothing to do with basketball: he was homesick for the hummus of his homeland, and he couldn't find anything like it here. He finally discovered the hummus at Opa! Opa! in East Sacramento, and pronounced it to be "like having good food from home."
Casspi has since moved on to another NBA team, but Opa! Opa! is still making quality hummus and other Middle Eastern specialties. On a recent visit to Opa! Opa! with my son Zack, I sampled the creamy hummus, made from garbanzo beans, tahini sauce, lemon juice, and garlic, and served with fresh, fluffy wedges of pita bread. It was easy to understand Casspi's attraction to this simple but flavorful dish. I also tried the dolmathes, marinated grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. They were delicious! If you're vegan, however, be sure to order them without the yogurt-based tzatziki.
Numerous other menu items at Opa! Opa! appear to be vegan or easily made vegan, including:
Opa! Opa! Salad (mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, marinated onions, pepperoncini, and kalamata olives), if ordered without feta
Chickie Mama Salad (chick peas, sliced olives, onions, tomato, mint, and other spices). This item is specifically listed on the menu as vegan.
Summer in Athens Salad (tomato, cucumber, and onions), if ordered without feta
Tabouli (bulgar wheat, parsley, green onion, mint, various spices, lemon juice, and olive oil)
Orzo Pasta Salad (orzo, tomato, artichoke, kalamata olives, fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice)
Fasolakia (string beans in a spiced tomato sauce and served over rice). This item is specifically listed on the menu as vegan.
Opa! Opa! is located at 5644 J Street. The phone number of the restaurant is 916-451-4000, and the website address is http://www.eatatopa.com/index.php. The restaurant is open Sunday through Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.