Before I lived next to Shuk Machane Yehuda, I used to occasionally buy some specialty foods there but the rest was pretty much a mystery to me. Having spent the last four years shopping regularly in the shuk, I have come to learn the ins and outs of where to shop for the best produce. Some of my favorite stalls are not always the cheapest but they either have the best produce and/or staff that I trust not to rip me off, so here is my guide to shopping in the shuk.
- Meat – Mizrachi Butchers
I discovered this place by accident but later found out that many of my friends, including two chefs, also get their meat there. Mizrachi has a great selection of meats, it is clean and Nissim is always friendly and very helpful. Don’t worry if you don’t know the Israeli number system for meat, just tell him what you plan to cook and he will give you the right cut of meat. He also recently started stocking antibiotic-free chicken and often has duck and other specialty products.
Insider Tip – open late on a Friday afternoon and closed on Sunday.
Mizrachi Butchers (Kosher), 13 HaCheruv Street (corner of HaTut), Nissim Mizrachi, 02 624 3939/050 785 4569.
- Fish – David Dagim
You might be able to find cheaper fish in the shuk, but David Dagim is unbeatable on selection and quality so I personally prefer to pay a bit extra and know that I am getting the freshest fish. There is always a line of people from all over the city waiting to order and receive recommendations from the owners. They will prepare and pack the fish however you want it and they deliver.
Insider Tip – ask for sushi grade fish to make your own sushi. Closed on Sunday
- Fruit – Open Shuk
The great thing about fruit in Israel is that you mostly get local fruit that is in season so you can be sure that it is fresh and usually well priced (here is a calendar of local produce). From my experience, the Yaffo end of the open shuk (Machane Yehuda Street) is the best place to buy fruit based on price and quality. There are some places in the closed shuk that have better quality but their prices are much higher. There is no particular place that I buy everything but between the various stalls on both sides of the street, I look around, compare the quality and prices and find what I need.
- Vegetables – Iraqi shuk
If you enter the Iraqi shuk from the main entrance in the middle of the open shuk, at the end of the first alley is a large vegetable store on the left. There is always a great selection of well-priced fresh vegetables. The store opposite can be cheaper but the selection and quality is not as good.
I buy my lettuce and fresh herbs from a small store further into the Iraqi shuk, opposite Argento (at the end of the first alley, turn right and the store is the second on the left). I will sometimes buy radishes, green beans and individual potatoes from the various stores further into the Iraqi shuk which all seem to specialize in a few specific types of vegetables.
- Spices – Ras el Hanut
There are so many spice stores in the shuk, it is mostly a matter of personal taste and for years I shopped at Pereg as they have a great selection of loose spices, as well as pre-packaged jars. But when Ras el Hanut opened a new store earlier in the year, I jumped ship. The store is not only large and well laid out, I find the quality to be very good, the staff incredibly helpful and the products well priced. They provide spice mixes for restaurants in the area like Hatzot, Jacko’s Street, Machneyuda, Rachmo and Pinati and will help put together your own spice mix on request.
For help knowing which spices are unique to this region, check out this guide to Spices in the Middle East.
As well as buying spices and some grains from them, I also like that they will grind nuts to order and you can request if you want a fine meal or chunky. They also have a great selection of dairy and parev chocolate buttons which are ideal for melting for chocolate desserts.
Ras el Hanut (Kosher), 72 Agripas Street, corner of HaArmonim Street, 02 641 1711, online orders and delivery available. All loose products are Badatz.
- Bread – Teller Bakery
Most restaurants in Jerusalem get their bread supplied by Teller Bakery. Although there is a small stand in the shuk, the full selection of their breads is only available from their store. The majority of their bread is sourdough, except the focaccia and challot and if you get there early enough on a Friday, they do great whole grain challot. As well as some specialty flavored breads, they also make special rolls for making soup in a roll.
Favorite food – blueberry and walnut sourdough.
Insider Tip – all their bread and pastries are sold for half price at the end of each day at 18:45 and 30 minutes before closing on a Friday– but be warned, there is always a line and it is a literal “bun-fight”. The bread freezes very well, even when sliced.
Teller Bakery (Mehadrin), main bakery @74 Agripas Street with a stand in the shuk @Eliyahu Banai Street, corner of Etz HaChaim Street, 02 622 3227.
- Coffee – Roasters
Coffee lovers will be glad to know that one of the best coffee shops in the city is in the middle of the shuk. Roasters offers delicious coffee to sit and watch the world go by, take away and drink while you shop or freshly ground coffee to take home. There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee.
Favorite food – Cortado coffee, ice-coffee and almond & raspberry tart.
Roasters (Kosher), 20 HaAfarsek Street, 054 671 0296.
- Dips and Salads – Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu
One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the best choice of take-away dips and salads in the city. They also have a great selection of fried foods like cigars, schnitzel and kubbe (meat or vegetarian). A great place for buying take-out food on a Friday but be ready to wait in line.
Favorite food – Moroccan cigars and spicy grated carrot salad.
Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher), 70 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 624 3322/ 054 694 9403, catering available.
- Cheese – Basher Fromagerie
If cheese is your thing, then look no further than Basher Fromagerie for the best selection of cheeses in the country. The Basher brothers are the main cheese importers in Israel and they stock cheese from all over the world that cannot be found in many places in Israel. Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue for you, make sure you ask to see the hechsher.
If you prefer a fully kosher shop, the dairy Tzidkiyahu deli (opposite the meat deli on Etz HaChaim Street) has a great choice of kosher cheeses including authentic kosher Parmigiano Reggiano.
Insider Tip – the staff at Basher are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men and will try to sell you more than you want.
Basher Fromagerie (No Hechsher), 53 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 625 7969, telephone orders available.
- Health Food – Hadasa Teva
Although the shop is small, it is well stocked and has better prices than the other health stores in the area, with friendly and knowledgeable staff. I buy most of my grains by the weight here, such as oats, rice and quinoa, and unlike many other stores in the shuk, I have never had a problem finding bugs inside (although I always put them all in the freezer for 24 hours just to be safe). They have a great choice of chocolate, including some artisanal low sugar and dairy free options.
Favorite food – coconut water with pineapple and Holy Cacao chocolate bars.
Insider Tip – they sell 12 large organic eggs at a fixed price and often have special offers on other items.
Hadasa Teva (Kosher), 2 Beit Yaakov Street (near the corner of Yaffo), 02 664 4332 – online orders and delivery available. Most products are Badatz.
Here are more posts about the shuk:
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