Although I am not a tour guide, I love showing visiting friends and family around the shuk area and sharing all its hidden treats. The following is a list of my top ten 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 food tour of the shuk.
I learned recently that the shuk officially includes the row of shops which start on the corner of Agripas Street and Ki’ach Street so that is a great place to start (click here for a map) .
- Potato 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 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 simple choice of potato, cheese or spinach. The crunchy burekas can be eaten alone but I would recommend having it cut open and lined with hard-boiled egg, schug and tahina, for the ultimate comfort food delight. My favorite is the Potato Bureka, but they are all delicious and are large enough to be a full meal.
Conveniently next door is my favorite juice bar in the city and trust me I have tried them all. Don’t be confused by the addresses, many of these places are tiny stalls which are part of the same building and this place is also very badly signed.
- Carrot & Ginger Juice or a Fresh Fruit Smoothie @Schutim (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street
Don’t let looks fool you, this shop might be small but they have a wonderful selection of fruits and vegetables and the prices are much better than the juice places further inside the market. I normally go for a spicy carrot and ginger juice or a fresh fruit smoothie. The guys who own it are also really friendly and you will always get service with a smile!
Walk down two stores for the next stop.
- Chocolate Rogelach @Marzipan Bakery – 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 the oven. Although the bakery sells many other delicious goodies, including other flavors of rogelach, the original chocolate are the most popular. The secret ingredient is the sticky sugar syrup that is poured over them as they come out the oven and this also helps them last longer. Not only do they freeze really well, 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.
- Moroccan Cigars and Spicy Carrot Salad @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 and the best selection of take-away 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 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 into the shuk, two doors up on the right.
- Sumac & Za’atar @Pereg Spices (Badatz) – 79 Etz HaChaim 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, marjoram, together with sesame seeds and sumac but can vary. It can be sprinkled on white cheese, salads or used as a dip for bread.
Although the shuk is full of great spice shops, Pereg sells a particularly diverse selection and their pre-packaged jars travel well. Other recommended products include shawarma spice, Sumsumiya (sesame, nut and honey spread) and a variety of rice seasoning mixes.
The next stop is diagonally opposite on the left.
- Coffee Halva & Chocolate Tahina @Halva Kingdom (Badatz) – 46 Etz HaChaim Street
Not many places in the shuk offer free tasters but Halva Kingdom always have someone standing outside their stores (there is a second one further inside the shuk) offering small squares of their Coffee Halva. Tasting a sample is not an obligation to enter the store, they are used to passersby 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 before you buy. My personal favorites are the coffee and Belgian chocolate flavors and they just started selling pre-sealed jars so it 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!).
- 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 are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men 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.
- Cortado Coffee @Roasters (Kosher) – 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 offers the 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 remaining 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.
Walk to the end of HaAfarsek, turn right onto Machane Yehuda Street (the open shuk). Keep to the left and take the last turning on the left, HaTut Street, before you reach Agripas (ReBar will be on the left corner). Walk straight ahead to the end of that street and the next stop will be facing you on the right.
- Rambam’s Milk @Uzi Eli Etrog Man (Kosher) – 10 HaEgoz Street
One of the more famous stands in the shuk is Uzi Eli – the Etrog Man. Uzi is a Yemenite healer who sells various Etrog based products to cure aches and pains. The shop also sells a variety of freshly made juices including Etrog Gat for energy and apple with ginger for a sore throat. My favorite choice is the Rambam drink which is almond milk with dates and other goodies. They will always let you try before you buy or you can go for a taster shot of each one for only five shekels each.
Head back out to Agripas Street and turn right heading down the hill. Continue down crossing over 2 side street until you reach the third side street, Beit Yaakov.
- Falafel @Falafel Mullah (Kosher) – 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov)
A visit to the shuk wouldn’t be the same without falafel and the best store to get from is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff will be offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you are already too full from all the grazing along the way, there is always the option for half a pitta. Although some argue that Falafel HaAchim Levi at the entrance to the open shuk is better, I prefer Mullah and it is located on a quieter corner and you can sit and enjoy you falafel in peace. The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t.
That concludes my tasting tour of the shuk. I hope you found the information helpful and please let me know if you want any other information about eating around the shuk.