Top 5 Experiences You Don’t Want To Miss When Visiting Jerusalem’s “Shuk”
One of the most iconic places in Jerusalem is the “Shuk” or Mahane Yehuda Market. It’s a must for any tourist in Jerusalem. This bustling street market has over 100 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Vendors, various middle eastern Spice Vendors, Wine Vendors, Cheese Vendors, Clothing Shops, Bakeries, Cafes, Restaurants and even Judaica Shops. At night, Shuk Mahane Yehuda turns into the hippest bar scene with over 15 bars interspersed by closed shops covered with street art. The streets of the market are littered with tables filled with young people. There are street performers and a number of very good restaurants that are only open at night. The purpose of this blog however, is to highlight some of the special things to try when visiting the shuk by day. Because the shuk is so big it can be overwhelming for tourists. I picked a few of my favorite vendors. For a list of the 5 top experiences in the shuk by night click here.
Experience #1: Buy and Try Warm Rugelach at Marzipan Bakery:
Regulars at Mahane Yehuda know that there is nothing more amazing than warm Rugelach (Yiddish for chocolate filled crescent roll) fresh out of the oven at Marzipan Bakery in the shuk. You may think you have had good rugelach in Israel until you taste the ones at Marzipan. These rugelach are probably the oilest/sugariest/tastiest things on the planet. You can take them home with you boxed to wherever you hail from and for some unknown reason they will stay pretty fresh for at least a week. But they will never be as good as one fresh out of the oven in the shuk. If you don’t see them when you get there ask for one and they will pull them out of the oven for you. So make sure that you go to Marzipan (44 Agrippas Street) and get your hands on some! You will thank me.
Experience # 2: Get a Healthy Drink from the Etrog Man!
Uzi-Eli Hezi also known as the “Etrog Man” is a famous 3rd generation Yemenite healer and spiritual advisor who owns a booth in the Mahane Yehuda Market. He is famous for his use and sale of remedies - in particular juices invented by the famous Medieval Rabbi Physician, Moses Maimonides. He also sells ancient remedies passed down through his family’s healer traditions. He makes and sells fresh juices and cosmetics; many which come from the Etrog (Citrus Medica) fruit. Two of his more popular drinks are “etrogat”, a combination of the etrog and the gat leaf and "Rambam's drink", a mixture of dates and almonds. Apparently, a few of his remedies came to him in his dreams. He is not always in the store, but if he is, I highly suggest you try to speak with him. He will likely ask you about your health and prescribe you a juice or heal you with his hand using energy medicine! Located at 10 HaEgoz in the shuk.
Experience #3 - Sample Some Halva at the “Halva Kingdom”
There are two locations of the store “Halva Kingdom” in the shuk that make insanely good Halva (Sesame based dessert). Most Americans have a pretty bad opinion of Halva. This is mostly due to the fact they were traumatized by the one and only kind of uber mediocre Halva imported from Israel when they were kids. Halva Kingdom will heal this trauma forever. This Halva bar features over 20 different flavors of Halva. The coffee is my personal favorite. They are sampling the Halva all day long so you can taste it and see if you want to take some home with you. This Halva is possibly the best and definitely the most famous in Israel. The owner, Eli Mamman, took over the business from his parents - Moroccans who opened the first “Halva Kingdom” in 1947. The recipes, based on his Moroccan roots are made from Ethiopian sesame seeds with added sugar, flavors and ground on an millstone. Eating Halva at Halva Kingdom is like eating a piece of Israeli history. Located at 10 & 72 Etz Hayim Street. Kosher Badatz
Experience #4 – Buy a Loaf of Bread From Teller Bakery
Not all bread is created equal – and that is definitely the case of the breads coming out of the oven at Teller. The Teller bakery is located outside the shuk but you can try all their samplings here at this location.They specialize in traditional Artisanal European breads, Crusty Baguettes and Rustic Boules (Country Bread). My personal favorite is the rustic olive breads. If you want to taste the best bread in Israel check out Teller. Located at Eliyahu banai, corner of HaAgas and Etz Hayim Street.
Experience #5 – Taste the Middle Eastern Culinary Wonders at Tzidkiyahu Delicacies:
There are a lot of people in the “Shuk” vending olives, Salatim (Salad dishes) and cheeses but don’t waste your time on anyone but Tzidkiyahu. You are free to grab an olive from each of the over 15 different kinds of olives or ask for a slice of cheese to sample. This Jerusalem brand was established by Mordechai Zion Tzidkiyahu. It has 2 stores one across from the other which sell dairy and meat dishes separately. You will find imported cheeses, olives, olive oil, fish, salads and various tasty dips. If you’re staying in Jerusalem for a couple days, I would suggest grabbing some take away goods from this famous vendor. You won’t leave disappointed. Located at 70 & 79 Etz Hayim Street.