Jerusalem is a melting pot of people from all over the world and of all walks of life, and one thing goes without saying: most of them have a sweet tooth that requires a bit more than the knafe, baklava and halva the Middle East is best known for.
Over the past 5 years or so, the city has seen a major revolution of spectacular gourmet bakeries and cafes selling home-baked cakes and desserts inspired by cuisines from all over the world, artisan breads and much more. On top of that, there are a handful that also provide a haven from the bustling city, where you can enjoy your coffee (or wine) and cake (or meal) in a peaceful, unique atmosphere.
Check out our picks for the best specialty cafe-bakeries in the city:
New kid on the block
GourmandisesJust a few years ago, Yoel and Livnatt Affriat were living in Pars and working as opticians when Yoel decided he was bored.
After a course at the Lenotre Culinary Institute to become a pastry chef, the couple and their three children made moved to Israel in July 2013 and less than 2 years later, opened the intimate and charming Gourmandises dairy French restaurant and patisserie.
Open daily, Gourmandises bakes and serves a wide variety of mouth-watering pastries, cookies and breads (baguettes, of course) are available. Specialties include "concert" (a layered cheese cake), fruit and lemon tartes, chocolate and coffee eclairs, flams, mousse, and French macaroons, just to name a few.
Packaged cookies and a beautiful selection of baguettes in two sizes, half baguettes and round breads are also available for munching, and you can always grab a fresh coffee or tea to go along with your snacks while you relax inside or outside.
Gourmandises is unique in that everything is made fresh on the premises in their pastry kitchen.
KadoshPhoto: Kadosh Coffee
Meir Kadosh first opened the authentic Parisian-style Kadosh café in 1967, and today his son, Itzik and daughter-in-law, Karen, carry on the tradition, offering sweet specialties such as brioche, sugar donuts, sufganiyot during Hanukkah and at least a dozen other sweet treats you can always see displayed in the showcase.
If you’re in the mood for something savory, Kadosh also has a rich dairy menu with omelets, pastas, fish, quiche, salads, sandwiches, toasts and soups, as well as 6 varieties of savory pastries.
And in addition to the regular array of temptations in the showcase, there are also the daily cookies and special weekend cakes and cookies on Wednesday-Friday.
You can experience Kadosh in 2 distinct yet equally satisfying ways, either by sitting outside with a glass of wine on a warm day as people and cars jealously pass you by on Shlomtsiyon Hamalka Street; or in winter, warming up within the confines of the café with a pastry, coffee and the buzz of the many conversations taking place throughout the day and night.
Grand Cafephoto: Grand Cafe
Not far from the German Colony, you can find the Grand Café on Derech Beit Lechem, another prime spot to have a bite to eat and partake in some people-watching, but with less traffic.
In both design and ambiance, it draws its inspiration from the classic Austrian cafés, but its pastry selection is eclectic, offering mufifns, cinnamon buns, croissants, French macaroons, about a dozen different types of cake and much more.
Much like Kadosh, you also can’t sleep on its eclectic and rather expansive breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s too much to cover here, but the boutique cheese platter certainly stands out as the perfect complement to a glass of wine and people-watching, and the cod and curry stew is something you don’t see every day.
Breakfast is served all day in a warm, homey atmosphere with fresh food.
TellerPhoto: Teller Bakery
Perhaps the best of the best genuine bakeries is Teller on Agripas Street. Established by Avishai Teller in 2005 as a haven for bread connoisseurs, it is now run by locals Michel Sultan and Daniella Abramson.
Teller specializes in the art of sour dough bread, producing at least 16 types, as well as various kinds of rolls, sweet and savory pastries, cheesecake, muffins, sufganiyot during Hanukkah and much more.
From the café on the premises, you can watch the throngs of people on Agripas while you chow down on your baked goods of choice.
Baker? I hardly even knew her!
Lechem V'od (Bread and More)While it’s not quite a bakery, per se, if you happen to have ventured outside of the bustling city center and into the German Colony, check out Lechem V'od (Bread and More) on Emek Refaim
This overqualified shop sells items they get from various bakeries and vendors, but also provides a pleasant outdoor patio where you can enjoy some instant gratification instead of waiting until you get home.
For your sweet tooth, try New York cheesecake, chocolate torte, apple pie, lemon pie, sweet rolls and French macaroons, and pair them with a variety of coffee, hot chocolate and cider.
If you’re in the mood for something savory, indulge in artisan bread with imported French butter, cheeses and spreads.
Halvah, techina, and many jams and jellies make wonderful take-home gifts.
Sybil Kaplan is a seasoned foreign correspondent, journalist, food writer, book reviewer, and cookbook author. She comes from Overland Park, Kansas. She leads the weekly Shuk Walk in Machaneh Yehudah in English. Her husband, Barry, is her photographer. You can contact her by email at syb1023