Lets get this out of the way: I absolutely love Israeli and Middle Eastern food. It's one of my favorite cuisines, and if there's one thing I really value in life, it's a damn good hummus. At home, I can easily locate multiple dive-y falafel joints that'll satisfy my cravings, but since arriving in St. Louis for college, I've found this mission to be more difficult. That is, until I discovered Olio

I was first introduced to Olio last year as a first semester freshman, when my friends' parents decided to treat me to a nice parent's weekend dinner. I immediately fell in love with the intimate atmosphere of the outdoor seating and how the dishes were made to share, promoting a social dining experience. 

Even better than the dining experience at Olio is the food. Everything is tapas style and not too heavy, but the food is definitely still filling (and so good you won't be able to stop eating). They also have a lot of healthy vegetable-based dishes, so its an accommodating place for friends and family with differing dietary needs. To give you the best possible idea of what Olio is like, here is a sampling of my favorite dishes.

1. King of Kings Hummus

Olio, tomatoes, bruschetta, Pita, hummus
Matthew Wenger

Like I mentioned before, I'm an avid hummus fan and this one definitely takes the cake for one of the best hummuses I've ever had. It's straight up and tells it to you like it is: a ring of rich hummus topped with a little olive oil, paprika, and parsley surrounds a tahini center. Pair it with the Charred Broccoli Pita, and you're golden. 

2. Israeli Bruschetta

Olio, hummus, Pita, tomatoes, bruschetta
Matthew Wenger

I love this dish because of the Middle Eastern twist put on bruschetta, a classic Italian appetizer. This bruschetta is unique as it's made with charred whole cherry tomatoes, rather than diced tomatoes. The garlic and the mint perfectly compliment each other and blend in seamlessly with the juicy fresh tomatoes. This one is definitely a must have.

3. Zucchini Carpacci

So you're probably thinking, what could possibly be that great about some zucchini? You'd be surprised. Olio's zucchini dish could be its own entree. The zucchini is thinly sliced and grilled with a hint of lemon and some pecorino. It's simultaneously refreshing and filling.

4. Roasted Cauliflower

cauliflower, Roasted cauliflower, Olio, Herbs
Matthew Wenger

The roasted cauliflower will surprise you just like the zucchini. Olio's ability to make a simple side vegetable it's own dish is amazing and unparalleled. The cauliflower is roasted in tahini and almonds, a combination that I would never think to make works flawlessly. 

As you can tell, I'm a pretty big fan of Olio. There are so many more dishes that I've yet to try there, but from what I've tasted so far, I can tell you it's an STL restaurant that requires a visit. It's a little bit of a drive from WashU, so I recommend getting a group of friends together, finding a car, and going out for a culinary adventure. Olio is a fun, social, and refreshing restaurant that I am so glad I've found.