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Self-Guided Tasting Tour of the Jerusalem Shuk

A Self Guided 10 Stop Food Tour of Jerusalem’s Shuk Machane Yehuda.

Although I am not an official shuk food tour guide, I love taking visiting friends and family on food tours around the shuk area and sharing all its hidden treats. The following is a list of my top things to eat in and around Shuk Machane Yehuda.  It is too hard to list it in order of favorite, so instead, I have created a self-guided tasting food tour of the shuk.

The shuk officially includes the row of shops that start on the corner of Agripas Street and Ki’ach Street so I decided that is a great place to start (click here for a map).

  1. Cheese & Spinach  Bureka @Burekas Ramla (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street

Like many traditional local foods, you will never get everyone to agree on their favorite version, but for me, these are without a doubt the best burekas I have ever tried.  Unlike the burekas you find in most bakeries around Israel that are made from puff pastry and come in different shapes, these Turkish burekas are made from filo pastry and all have a standard large sausage shape.   The tiny stall on this busy corner is an off-shoot of a bakery in Ramla and has a choice of cheese, spinach, cheese & spinach, or potato.  The crunchy burekas can be eaten alone but I would recommend having it cut open and lined with hard-boiled egg, Schug (Yemenite hot sauce), and tahina, for the ultimate comfort food delight.  My favorite is the Cheese & Spinach Bureka.  They are large enough to be a full meal and they will happily cut it in half or into bit size pieces to make it easier to share.

Walk down a few stores to Marzipan. Don’t be confused by the addresses, many of these places are part of the same building.

  1. Chocolate Rogelach @Marzipan Bakery (Badatz) – 44 Agripas Street

Famous the world over for making the best chocolate rogelach, this Marzipan Bakery is always full of locals and tourists filling boxes of rogelach as soon as they come out of the oven.  Although the bakery sells many other delicious goodies, including other flavors of rogelach, the original chocolate is the most popular.  The secret ingredient is the sticky sugar syrup that is poured over them as they come out of the oven and this also helps them last longer. Not only do they freeze really well, but they are also really tasty straight from the freezer.   Pick up a few as a snack as you walk around the shuk or save them for later.

Walk along the street and take a right into the covered shuk to the second store on the left.

  1. Moroccan Cigars & Vines Leaves @Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher) – 70 Etz HaChaim Street

One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the crispiest Moroccan cigars, the softest vine leaves,  and the best selection of takeaway dips and salads in the city.  My personal choices are the Spicy Grated Carrot Salad and the Sweet Eggplant and Peanut Salad. I am also partial to their Schnitzel and Kubbe (meat or vegetarian).  A great place for buying Shabbat takeout food on a Friday but be prepared to wait in line.

There is also a dairy deli diagonally opposite with a great selection of cheeses and there are other branches around the city.

Continue straight down the covered shuk until the middle on the right.

  1. Stinky Cheese @Basher Fromagerie – 53 Etz HaChaim Street

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.  The friendly staff is always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good salesmen and always try to give you more than you want.  Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue, make sure you check.

Keep to the left side to the corner of Etz HaChaim and Ha’Afersek Street.

  1. Cortado or Cold-Brew Coffee @Roasters (Tzohar) – 20 HaAfarsek Street

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 offer a traditional selection of coffees as well as some more unusual ones, like the Spanish Cortado, which is a shot of espresso with an equal amount of warm milk to dilute the acidity but still remain a strong short coffee.  Summer specials include cold brew coffee and Affogato (vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso). There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee or freshly ground coffee to take home.

Roasters - Coffee - Jerusalem - Shuk - Canelle - Cortado-

Walk to the end of HaAfarsek, and turn right onto Machane Yehuda Street (the open shuk). The next stop is on the other side of the wide street.

  1. Coffee Halva & Chocolate Tahina @Halva Kingdom (Badatz)

Not many places in the shuk offer free tasters but Halva Kingdom always has someone standing outside their stores (there are two in the covered shuk) offering small squares of halva.  Tasting a sample is not an obligation to enter the store, they are used to passers-by grabbing a morsel for a quick sugar fix.  The store has a selection of around 100 flavors of halva, and they will normally let you try them before you buy.  My personal favorites are the coffee and Belgian chocolate flavors and they sell pre-sealed jars so they can be easily transported.

They also sell various savory and sweet flavored tahina – the chocolate tahina is delicious and makes a healthy alternative to chocolate spread. I regularly take the halva and tahina as gifts for friends when I travel but make sure you pack it well so it doesn’t crack and leak all over your case (yes that happened!).

Head back down the open shuk towards Agripas to the second last stall on the left.

  1.  Falafel @ Falafel HaAchim Levi (Kosher) – 2 HaTut Street (Corner of Machne Yehuda Street)

A visit to the shuk wouldn’t be the same without falafel and the best store to get from is Falafel HaAchim Levi. There is always a line of people waiting so you know you are eating fresh food. If you are craving a taste of the shuk at home, you can even order falafel delivery via 10bis.

Turn right onto HaTut Street back into the shuk,  walk straight ahead to the end of that street and the next stop will be facing you on the right.

  1. Pineapple Gat @Uzi Eli Etrog Man (Kosher) – 10 HaEgoz Street

One of the more famous stands in the shuk is Uzi Eli – the Etrog Man.  The founder Uzi was a Yemenite healer who used various Etrog-based products to cure aches and pains.  His family now runs the shops that sell a variety of freshly made juices. These include Pineapple Gat, & Etrog Gat for energy, Apple Ginger for a sore throat, and Rambam’s milk for a healthy version of a sweet drink.  They will always let you try before you buy or you can go for a taster shot of each one for only four shekels each.

Head back out to Agripas Street and turn right heading down the hill.  The third street you cross is HaArmonim Street and the next stop is on the corner of Agripas and HaArmonim.

  1. Sumac, Za’atar & Baharat @ Ras el Hanut  (Badatz) – 72 Agripas Street

The secret ingredient in many authentic Middle Eastern dishes is usually the mix of spices. So when tourists ask me for recommendations of things to take home with them, I normally suggest Sumac and Za’atar. Sumac is a wonderful slightly sour, burgundy-colored spice that can be used to season salads (especially Fattoush), grilled fish, and meats. Za’atar is a mix of herbs and spices that typically includes ground dried thyme, oregano, and marjoram, together with sesame seeds and sumac but can vary.  It can be sprinkled on white cheese, and salads, or used as a dip for bread. Baharat is a fragrant mixture typically used for slow-cooked meat dishes. If you do buy Baharat, make sure to wrap it well or your entire suitcase will smell of it!

Although the shuk is full of great spice shops, many of the stores are open to the elements, in particular the flying birds. Ras el Hanut is far more sanitary; the prices are competitive and the staff is always incredibly attentive and knowledgeable.

Cross Agripas at the crossing and walk down the hill. The last stop is on the left.

  1. Jerusalem Mix Grill @Hatzot (Kosher) – 121 Agripas Street

This popular steakiah (meat grill) has a separate takeaway window along with plenty of street-side tables.  Hatzot‘s famous Jerusalem mixed grill is made with chicken hearts, spleens, and liver cooked with fried onions and their secret spice mix. If you are not a fan of offal, the spring chicken/pargit is delicious, as is the Angus burger.

Hatzot - Jerusalem Grill - Kosher

That concludes the self-guided Jerusalem Shuk Tour.  I hope you found the information helpful and I would love to hear feedback from those who have tried this tour.

For more information about shops in the shuk – take a look at the official shuk website (although it is very out of date!).

Here are more posts about the shuk:

  1. Street Food in the Jerusalem Shuk
  2. Shopping in the Shuk

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