Take this handy restaurant guide to ‘the shuk’ in downtown Jerusalem and bring along a hearty appetite. You’re in for an incredible food experience.
In Jerusalem’s famed Machane Yehuda open-air market (shuk) you can buy many different foods including fresh produce, spices, tea and coffee, olive oil, cheese, fish, meat, halva, baked goods and sweets to take home.
But the shuk also has a full complement of restaurants. This is a list of some of the best IMHO, all of them certified kosher.
Azura, 4 HaEshkol St.
What used to be a place for cheap eats is now one of the best restaurants in Jerusalem and my personal favorite.
This Turkish/Iraqi restaurant in the Iraqi section of Machane Yehuda is the kind of place where you cannot try just one dish.
Beef sofrito, a mixture of beef and potatoes with wonderful spices, is the best dish on the menu. Azura, another popular dish, is a partially hollowed-out eggplant filled with seasoned minced meat and marinated in cinnamon and other spices.
The rest of the dishes on the menu are also delicious, whether it be the spicy oxtail or the hummus. Nothing is ever a disappointment at Azura.
Manou Ba Shouk, 29 Etz Haim St.
At this Lebanese restaurant, located in the middle of the closed part of the shuk, they’re always cooking up something delicious! The khidre was different and so fun to eat. It’s rice with vegetables, noodles, and meat that comes in a large clay pot that they shake and spill onto a platter, so the food comes out steaming.
Along with the khidre, you must get the meat pizza, which is a crispy, thin dough topped with a light sauce and meat, making a surprisingly delicious dish. My other favorite thing to get here is Kubbeh Saniyeh, essentially a pan of three layers, comprised of a blend of soaked bulgur dough as the top and bottom layers, while the middle layer contains seasoned ground beef and pine nuts.
This is a wonderful restaurant for family-style dinners.
Hachapuria, 5 HaShikma St.
You cannot find many places like Hachapuria. Located just outside the shuk, Hachapuria is a wonderful Georgian restaurant with a very cute atmosphere.
The food that gave the restaurant its name is basically an oval bread boat brimming with tasty cheese with an egg and butter on top. This delicious item comes fresh out of the oven with an aroma that takes over the room. You can order it with spinach if you prefer a little vegetable in your dish.
Jahnun Bar, 30 HaEgoz St.
This tiny delight of a culinary experience, located in the closed part of the Machane Yehuda shuk, serves some of the best Yemenite food in Jerusalem.
Jahnun Bar has two very classic and delicious Yemenite dishes: jachnun and malawach. Jachnun, a thick rolled Yemenite pastry, is served with a salsa dip and egg. The more popular malawach is a thin pastry dough that can be wrapped like a burrito.
The two main ways to order malawach at Jahnun Bar are the Memulawach and the Shakshukalawach. The Memulawach can be served with different fillings such as hummus, harif (a spicy blend), olives and tomatoes, while the Shakshukalawach can have all of the same fillings, with the addition of the classic poached-egg-and-tomato-sauce shakshuka.
The best part of this small restaurant is that you get to watch everything made right in front of your eyes.
Ishtabach, 1 HaShikma St.
Known as one of the best restaurants near the shuk, Ishtabach (tagline: “Bread, meat and what goes between them”) is always serving up something delicious.
My personal favorite at this Kurdish restaurant is the brisket, since it reminds me of my mom’s. The additional spices and seasonings make the brisket even better than my mom’s (but please don’t tell her).
Bardak, 4 Beit Ya’akov St.
If you are looking for better quality than pizza chains such as Big Apple or Pizza Hut provide, then Bardak is the place for you. Their pizza is truly the best that I have had in Israel (and I have traveled throughout the whole country).
My personal favorite is the German Colony pizza, which has mushrooms, onions, goat cheese and pesto. You will never be dissatisfied with the food at Bardak, but sometimes their service is not the best, as it gets very packed. In those situations, I recommend take-out. They are located just a block or so outside of the shuk.
Pepito’s, 11 HaEgoz St.
Pepito’s is a delicious sandwich place that is distinct from other places such as New Deli. The South American-inspired sandwiches are truly delicious. The assado sandwich tends to be one of the favorites. Let me tell you that you cannot just go there once.
The staff at Pepito’s is super friendly, willing to help you make your decision and guiding first-timers in the right direction. Overall, a highly recommended place that is different from your typical Middle Eastern cuisine.
Hatzot, 121 Agripas St.
A great restaurant just about two blocks from the shuk, Hatzot (Hebrew for Midnight) has a fun atmosphere and is not too expensive. It is a very classic Israeli restaurant serving skewers of meat and salads, which are provided on the table.
Legend has it that the famous “Jerusalem mixed grill” dish was invented in 1970 here at Hatzot.
The staff is very friendly and refills your salads when you finish. But the best part of Hatzot is that the food is delicious and will leave you full. If you don’t feel like sitting down, they also have great laffas or pitas to go.
Hatch, 28 HaEgoz St.
Hatch, the new rage of Machane Yehuda, is located in the closed part of the shuk. Typically, when eating wings in a restaurant, I always think that I make better ones at home. However, this is not the case at Hatch. Hatch’s American-style food is truly delicious, and their Buffalo wings are some of the best you will ever have.
Crave Gourmet Street Food, 1 HaShikma
Crave is one of the hottest restaurants in Jerusalem and you will definitely crave it, pun intended. The wait can be long, but it is always worth it.
The diverse menu includes some options that don’t sound very kosher, but thanks to house-made vegan cheese and bacon made from lamb, they are. If you keep a kosher diet, here is where you can finally try that bacon cheeseburger, BLT or Reuben sandwich that you have always wanted to. They are truly delicious! There’s also beer on tap, cocktails, wine, and Dr. Brown’s sodas.
Hummus Shel Tehina, 23 Nissim Bachar St.
About a three-minute walk across Agripas Street from Machane Yehuda, you will find this cozy restaurant serving some great hummus. The staff is super-friendly and kind, and the hummus is truly unforgettable.
I personally love the hummus with mushrooms (pitriyot), and my second favorite choice is to have my hummus with fava beans, garbanzo beans and/or an egg. Additionally, I recommend getting some falafel balls to share, as these go great with your meal.
Morduch, 70 Agripas St.
One of the best-known Middle Eastern foods in Israel is kubbeh. These semolina dumplings can be enjoyed in soup or fried with meat inside. Morduch has both kinds of kubbeh and they are both delicious! I love to go up to the window and get two fried kubbeh to go, as a snack, but you can also sit down for a nice bowl of kubbeh soup.
Marzipan Bakery, 44 Agripas St.
Marzipan’s rugelach are probably the hottest commodity for any tourist or traveler visiting Machane Yehuda. When the rugelach are fresh out of the oven on a Friday morning, it is nothing short of heaven, as the gooey chocolate oozes out of each doughy bite and the whole thing just melts in your mouth. This classic place is a must.
Beer Bazaar, 3 Etz Haim St.
After dinner, you can come here to relax and have a nice craft beer. Beer Bazaar has a great selection of more than 100 Israeli beers and 13 on tap, along with some ciders and spirits, and a menu of classic bar food as well as vegetarian options.
The prices are pretty good and the atmosphere is great, with a large area in back for extra seating and live shows. This place is definitely recommended to begin or end a night on the town.
Daniel Silver is a 2018-2019 Digital Ambassador for ISRAEL21c.