I wrote about some of these places in my earlier post titled, “A Foodie’s Guide to Jerusalem”, but figured I need to dedicate an entire blog post to my favorite market in the world, Shuk Machne Yehuda. Disclaimer: I do not currently live in Jerusalem, but lived there a few years ago for a summer, and visit Jerusalem (and Machne Yehuda) frequently.
Here are my top five food recommendations for the shuk:
Azura Eggplant at Azura– I rarely break my vegetarianism, and Azura is one of the few places I will do so. Their azura eggplant, stuffed with beef and a cinnamon tomato sauce, is pure heaven. I also love their stuffed grape leaves. This Iraqi restaurant is very popular, so you might need to wait a while to snag a table.
Knafe– Try knafe (an Arabic dessert with bright orange shredded phyllo dough, rose water and melted goat cheese), a few vendors have places where you can get a personalized portion made fresh! I’ve heard people say knafeh at Jaffar is the best, although I’m sure this is one of many things people in Israel disagree on 😛
Sabich at Aricha– Customize your own sabich (a fried eggplant, hardboiled egg, veggies and sauces) sandwich at this popular joint! They have a vegan option for those who can’t eat eggs (they substitute mushrooms) and even have whole wheat pita for those looking for a more nutritious option. I eat a whole order, but if you want to order other bites from the shuk, you can order a half portion.
Shamburak at Ishtabach– as a vegetarian I was only able to try the vegetarian version of this Syrian/Kurdish calzone-like pastry filled with spiced goodness. The vegetarian version has sweet potatoes, lentils, roasted onions and mashed potatoes and was simply divine. If you are looking to enjoy just the filling (and not the dough), you should try the shepherd’s pie here. Both are baked in a wood fired oven and are absolutely incredible. My friends who ate the meat stuffed versions also loved their shamburaks.
Challah: especially during shabbat, the shuk will be full of fresh baked challah! Germophobes might be grossed out by it, as the challah sits outside without covering and often there are flies surrounding the loaves. You’ll even see people touching the loaves with their bare hands without purchasing the ones they’ve touched. But once you taste the bread you get over the cleanliness concerns! Plus germs build up the immune system right?