Mahane Yehuda is exactly what you’d expect of a market. It’s teeming with colorful spices, fruits, and vegetables, fresh bread and hummus, dozens of varieties of nuts, lemonade, wine, strong smells—some good, some bad—and best of all, people.
Since the 1880s, Jews from all over the world have set up shop in Mahane Yehuda. The day I visited it for the first time, I’d just come from Yad Vashem. As Luke Moon, Deputy Director of the Philos Project, likes to point out, the abundance of life in the market is a truly great symbol of the Jewish people’s triumph over the Nazis. A visit to Jerusalem without a visit to Mahane Yehuda would be remiss—not in the least because of the delicious wares to sample.
If you love food as much as you love Israel, here are some must-haves for your next visit:
Khachapuri. There’s nothing quite like a steaming-hot, egg-topped bread bowl on a sunny day in Jerusalem. Take a seat street-side at Hachapuria, tear off a chunk of bread, dunk it in the cheesy center, and imagine you’re basking at the seaside in Georgia—where khachapuri is the national dish.
Craft Beer. When your bread bowl has become your food baby, wash it down with a cool pint from Beer Bazaar. The pub offers 100 craft beers from microbreweries all over Israel, with 11 on tap, and as an added treat, try Israel’s best chili dog. It’s kosher. So you don’t even have to feel bad about it.
Cheese. At 53 Etz HaChaim Street, you’ll find Basher Fromagerie, a world renown cheese shop that sells local Israeli cheeses alongside the crème de la crème of Europe. Grab your main slice and lounge on the second floor with a glass of red.
Halva. This sweet, crumbly treat is produced across the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe using nut butters and sugar. At The Halva Kingdom in Mahane Yehuda, they import sesame from Ethiopia to produce their tahini-based treats. To get some raw tahini, you can simply hop across the street to its sister shop, Tahini King, and buy it by the bottle.
Rugelach. It’s been a long day. Treat yourself to some gooey, chocolate-filled pastry from Marzipan Bakery and savor it alongside a Turkish coffee from Roasters. The best part about this dessert is that you can find it all over the world. But it’s not the same if it’s not in Jerusalem.
L’chaim! (To life!)