Street food has been around for centuries but in the last few years it has become more popular the world over and Israel is no exception. As the street food phenomenon has spread, new places have opened all over Israel but some of the best are in the Jerusalem shuk where you can now find a wide variety of interesting street food offerings including traditional dishes all over the world.
There are so many places to choose from but here are my top picks:
- JOSEF BURGER
Even though other burger joints have opened in the area, Josef Burger is still my favorite. My preference is for the Angus Burger (NIS 45) which I find to be more tender and juicy than the house burger. They have a great choice of toppings and the service is normally quick and friendly. There is also a good business lunch deal for NIS 55 including a main, side dish and drink. My standard order is a medium Angus burger with goose breast and green salad and as a special treat, I get goose liver and/or chili pineapple toppings.
Memphis Burger is also very good, the burger itself is great but the bread always seems to disintegrate and it is also a fast food/take out place, whereas Josef is a fun place to sit and enjoy your meal.
- PASTA BASTA
The beauty of Pasta Basta is in the simplicity of the offering. First, you choose your pasta, then a sauce and finally extra toppings, with the price starting at NIS 21. The pasta is all freshly made on site and the sauces and toppings are equally fresh. My favorite choices are Gnocchi with butter and Parmesan sauce with extra zucchini (NIS 33) or Whole Wheat Fusilli with coconut curry sauce (NIS 24). They also serve soup, salad and wine from the barrel for NIS 16 a glass!
- DWINY PITA BAR
The concept at Dwiny is open or closed sandwiches so each dish can be ordered either inside a pillowy fresh pita, or on top of small toasted pita bruschetta style. All the ingredients are fresh and interesting with fillings including seared entrecote, osso buco, fried red mullet and crispy cauliflower. My favorite dishes are the Entrecote pita (NIS 38) and the Lamb Siniya with tahina and pickled lemon (NIS 42).
As a Brit, nothing tastes quite like the real thing but Fishenchips is definitely the closest option I have had in Israel and it has already outlasted all its competition in the shuk. The Mixed Crunchy Cod Goujons with chips (NIS 42) includes a mixture of batters and is probably the most popular dish but the Panko Red Tuna with chips (NIS 47) is also a delicious and interesting dish.
Fishenchips (Kosher- dairy/parev), 12 HaEgoz Street, 02 624 9503.
Since Ishtabach opened a few years ago, they have been so popular that they have already expanded twice, but they have managed to keep the intimacy of the service and atmosphere. The specialty dish is Shamburak, a Kurdish Syrian pastry filled with meat and vegetables, baked in a stone oven and served with various homemade sauces and salads. Fillings include Asian chicken (NIS 41), asado (NIS 45) and tongue (NIS 54) and there is also a vegetarian option and some salads on the menu.
- FALAFEL MULLAH
Everyone has their favorite falafel place, but my favorite is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you just want a snack, there is always the option for half a pita. The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t. Falafel in pita is NIS 15 and in laffa is NIS 18.
Falafel Mullah (Kosher), 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov), 052 843 6476.
- CRAFT PIZZA
There is finally a place to get a good slice of pizza in the shuk! Craft Pizza opened in June 2018 and serves pizza by the slice, with a great flavor and lovely sourdough base. As well as traditional options, they also other tasty toppings like grilled zucchini, beet, kalamata olives, pineapple and chili, and a great spicy salsa on the side. A slice of margarita is NIS 14.
Craft Pizza (Mehadrin), 12 HaTapuach Street
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This popular steakiah (meat grill) has a separate takeaway window along with street-side tables. The extensive takeaway menu includes their famous Jerusalem mixed grill and my personal favorite, succulent pargit (NIS 54 in laffa), both with their secret spice mix. There is also a selection of salads and main courses in takeaway containers if you are extra hungry or don’t want bread.
- JERUSALEM STEAK HOUSE
For an authentic shawarma, Jerusalem Steak House is considered to be one of the best, with a good selection of fresh salads to go with it. Shawarma in pita is NIS 32 and in laffa is NIS 38 and they also do a half shawarma in either pita (NIS 18) or laffa (NIS 22). UPDATE – they recently changed management and it is not clear if the food is the same quality and the service is definitely less friendly.
Jerusalem Steak House (Mehadrin), 101 Agripas Street, 02 625 2745.
This popular Georgian bakery, specializes in Hachapuri, a selection of cheese filled breads. My favorite is Acharuli (NIS 30 small, 35 large) which has a cracked egg on top, designed so you can break off the crispy crust and dip it into the cheese and egg center. They sell a variety of other Georgian pastries but the one with the egg on top is the most popular.
HaChapuria – 5 HaShikma Street (corner with HaEshkol).
Another place that deserves a special mention is is SushiYa, which is not technically in the shuk but is very close by and worth the extra walk.
The menu at SushiYa is limited and there is not much seating but the food is always incredibly fresh and well made. The type of fish varies based on availability but they have all the standard sushi dishes and also serve a great poke bowl (and have done for years before they became so popular elsewhere). The Fish bowl is NIS 35 and includes a mix of raw and cooked fish, with a selection of raw, cooked and pickled vegetables. It is tasty, filling and great value.
SushiYa (Kosher) – 1 Trumpeldor Street (corner with Bezalel), 02 625 9055.
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