I’ve already written all about our magical 24 hours in vibrant, bustling Jerusalem, including raving about the magic of The Shuk—otherwise known as Mahane Yehuda Market. But I didn’t have enough space to do it justice in that post, and felt like it deserved some focused love.
Because you NEED to know how awesome this place is. We were barely able to scratch the surface in the three or four visits we made (yes, in 24 hours…I might have been obsessed), so I’ve provided other recommendations at the bottom of those post for things we wanted to do but didn’t have time for.
Read on, my fellow foodie travelers…
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What is the Shuk?
Mahane Yehuda Market is a massive marketplace in Jerusalem with over 250 different stands, shops, and restaurants. They house everything from fruit, vegetable, poultry, and bakery stands, to delicious fresh falafel vendors and great local restaurants.
It’s open every day of the week except during the Sabbath (Friday night at sundown to Saturday night at sundown; though some cafes and restaurants are open during that time). Check the official website for some of the nuances on times and days of the week. It’s right off the tram line and easy to get to, plus if you happen to be staying at Abraham Hostel it’s right around the corner.
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I loved exploring all the different kinds of foods in the market. Those weird wheel things above aren’t cheese—they’re halva, a dense sweet made from sugar syrup, eggs, and sesame seeds. You’ll find it all over the Middle East, but I didn’t actually really know what it was until the last day of our trip while wandering the Shuk. I also availed myself of the pastries below.
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If you’re there during in the day, you can choose to sample all the best falafel stands, stop and have coffee and a pastry, shop for souvenirs, or sit down for a real meal. It’s amazing people watching.
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But then, at night, the Shuk becomes EVEN MORE AMAZING! The market vendors close up shop and pull down their stall doors, revealing cool, bright graffiti murals. And a bunch of bars open alongside the restaurants that remain open. DJs come out and spin, the party cranks up, and Jerusalem’s young crowd spills in. It is SO cool to walk around here, and I wished we’d had more time to spend hanging out. Alas, we had a 2:45am wakeup call for our Masada sunrise hiking tour, so we couldn’t make a late night of it.
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Our first night there, I met my friend Shuki, a sales rep I’d worked with in Atlanta who had just moved to Jerusalem with his family. My dad and I met him, his wife and baby, and his mom and sister and we all walked to Jahnun. It’s a Yemeni place specializing in malawach (mah-lah-wah).
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It is sooo delicious…a puffy, soft-but-golden flatbread filled with hummus and tahini, fried eggplant and onions, roasted cauliflower, all kinds of yummy vegetarian toppings. Amazing, and much recommended. I went back the next night and got it again, because I’d been craving it.
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This is me and Shuki. He’s like actually 7 feet tall, so really stands out in Jerusalem.
Even if you’re only in Jerusalem for a day, I’d argue that a visit to the Shuk is a must-visit. It is such a part of the culture of modern Jerusalem and is so much fun.
What to do at Mahane Yehuda Market
- Obviously you can wander around on your own (we did, and loved it), but if you have time you should look into doing a walking tour and/or a cooking class. Abraham Tours offers one, and I’m sure there are others too.
- The TripAdvisor page has lots of awesome ideas from regular people too
- Treats that people recommend: delicious and cheap falafel-stuffed pita (try the popular shop on the corner of Mahane Yehuda and Ha-Tut Streets), a very cheap shot of ‘Royal Drink’ (with cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne and more) from Uzi Eli, get a malawach from Jahnun, and pick up halva to take home. I quite liked the local oatmeal stout in one of the pictures above too, found it in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
- Looking for something a little fancy?? Hidden within the Shuk is one of Jerusalem’s best restaurants, Machneyuda. It’s an upscale restaurant whose head chef, Asaf Granit, grew up in Jerusalem and pays homage to his homeland with a constantly changing, delicious menu. It’s one of the best restaurants in Israel and I was sad I couldn’t make a visit (reservations definitely recommended).
Do you have specific stall or restaurant recommendations in the Shuk? Have you been? I loved it so much, would love to hear about your experience in the comments!
Other foodie adventures:
- A Morning in Ljubljana’s Farmer’s Market
- Devouring Asheville’s Best: A (Frigid) Food Tour
- Feeling Hip(ster) in Portland’s Food & Beer Scene
- Why a Visit to London’s Borough Market is a Must
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