Mahane Yehuda market — where the locals shop
There’s only one place in Jerusalem where the locals go to fill up on homemade bread, cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Forget the supermarket, Mahane Yehuda market, also known as the ‘Shuk’ is where the locals come to shop. That, plus the market doubles up as a great meeting place.
Like any good market, there’s a charged energy about the place. Friendly shop and stall sellers work their charm to entice you to browse their produce.
You know you’ve arrived when…
It’s easy to know when you’ve reached Mahane Yehuda market. It’s a popular stop on the light rail in Jerusalem, so it’s easy to know when you’ve arrived.
Along with the light rail stop sign, the voice announcement will also let you know you’re in the right place. Prepare to bustle your way off the rail with crowds of shoppers, and again upon entering the market mecca.
The first things you’ll spot are the vegetable stalls as you enter the market. Continue walking down this path and it’ll take you to other parts of the Shuk.
The sweet stuff at Mahane Yehuda market
If you’ve a sweet tooth, pre-book that dentist appointment now. There are so many sticky and sweet things on offer at Mahane Yehuda, walking on by isn’t an option.
To get your tastebuds going, here are some of the treats you can expect to find.
They’re so moreish — one bite is never enough. These filo pastry parcels usually filled with pistachio and honey. Seriously sweet, but very good.
Rugelach — Mahane Yehuda market
This Jewish favorite has a texture halfway between bread and a cake. Take a bite and you’ll get a taste of cinnamon, sugar and chocolate chips.
The rolled pastry is baked, so there should be no lingering feelings of guilt afterwards.
These triangular pastries filled with fruit jam may not be the easiest to pronounce, but they’re mighty delicious.
Though I’d heard of Halva before, I’d never tried it. For fellow newbies, it’s actually a dessert made of ground sesame, with different flavors and fillings.
Stroll through the market, and you’ll likely see a Halva stall selling flavors ranging from chocolate, coffee beans to hot chili.
Bread the word
If you love bread as much as I do, the market’s full of it. Homemade Challah bread, bagels and of course pita. There are plenty of stalls selling fresh pita, still steaming in their bags.
The other must-try bread is the healthy rye bread. Mahane Yehuda market also has several shops selling artisan loaves. If you get the chance, and have enough time, stop by to browse or buy.
Plenty more at Mahane Yehuda market
If anything, the Shuk is more than just a place to shop, eat and drink. The electric atmosphere mixed with the friendly, animated stall sellers reinforce why it’s popular with locals and travelers alike.
20 good reasons to visit Mahane Yehuda market
Rather than write more about what you can see, the photos in the gallery above say it better. So in chronological order, here are 20 reasons why Mahane Yehuda market deserves a spot on your Jerusalem itinerary.
1. Every stall is interesting with something new to see, smell, taste or buy.
2. The fruits and vegetables on offer are some of the plumpest and biggest I’ve ever seen.
3. The infamous baklava. There are different varieties of this sweet filo pastry and it really tastes as good as it looks.
4. Candied fruits are something I’ve never seen before in a market, but are very popular in the region.
5. Freshly baked bread rolls packaged or un-packaged— they’re delicious and very cheap.
6. Try this market cafe stop called La Cornerie. They sell good coffee and is also a nice resting place before continuing your tour of the Shuk.
7. Dried fruits and nuts are also very common in Middle Eastern cuisine.
8. Halva you tried halva before? This popular dessert is made from ground sesame, and also comes in many different flavors.
9. Artisan breads on offer including the very popular rye bread.
10. Colorful and sweet dried apricots and prunes.
The final 10 — Mahane Yehuda market
11. A photo of the mouthwatering Rugelach. It’s halfway between a bread and a cake and also filled with cinnamon, sugar and chocolate chips. Take my word: take 2.
12. Israel has very good olive oil given the climate and sprawling olive branches. Vendors are happy to give you sample of the olive oil, so don’t be shy to ask.
13. You can find spices galore at the Shuk — great for flavoring meals as well as tea.
14. As tempting as it may seem, you probably wouldn’t feel so light if you ate all these bread rolls!
15. Israel: the land of olive oil and olives.
16. I love olives so much, I had to include 2 photos.
17. These packets of pita were still steaming hot as they were being packaged.
18. Colorful pulses packed with plenty of goodness.
19. Turkish delight with different varieties on offer.
20. Mahane Yehuda market transforming into its usual busy self.
Mahane Yehuda market at night
When night falls, Mahane Yehuda transforms into one of the hottest spots in towns. The market stalls convert into indoor bars and eateries, with many locals and foreigners conversing under one roof.
Mahane Yehuda market restaurants at night are plenty, and very good too. I had a delicious burger at Burger Market in the Shuk, which of course was all Kosher.
It was my first experience of Kosher food, and it definitely won’t be my last. Jerusalem was somewhere I never thought would welcome such a modern eating and drinking complex, but I was completely wrong.
Boutique hotels in Jerusalem
There are plenty of excellent boutique hotels in Jerusalem, many of them within walking distance of Mahane Yehuda market. Check out 3 of the best centrally located boutique hotels in Jerusalem: Bezalel Hotel, Harmony Hotel and Hotel Malka.
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