The Top Spots for Soaking Up Mahane Yehuda’s Friday Atmosphere
Every day at the Mahane Yehuda Market is an adventure, but Fridays are absolutely electric.
When you’re there, it seems like the whole city has come out to do some pre-Shabbat shopping and hang out with their friends in cafes, restaurants and bars.
The sights and sounds of the market are in full effect — elderly ladies and vendors haggling over produce prices, vendors shouting out their prices, shoppers tasting samples from the stalls, cafe patrons loudly discussing the week’s events and more.
This is Middle Eastern culture in all its glory.
That said, fighting through crowds and yelling over people aren’t necessarily everybody’s cup of tea. Fear not, though, because if you get there just a little earlier in the morning hours, you can peruse the food stalls in relative peace, get a good seat in a cafe and enjoy the atmosphere sans the claustrophobia.
Check out the best joints for a chill, Friday morning coffee in the shuk…
It might be a bit of a guilty pleasure, but you definitely won’t regret starting off your weekend at Cookie Cream with a delicious ice cream sandwich made with fresh, homebaked cookies and authentic homestyle ice cream in all your favorite flavors!
6 Haeshkol Street, Jerusalem;
Wok Market & Street Market
Mahane Yehuda is all about the fusion of cultures, so it’s only fitting to taste where East meets Middle East at Wok Market and Street Market in the shuk. Both feature more traditional Asian dishes alongside some pretty ambitious fusions of Asian and Middle Eastern flavors like sabich sushi or the Jerusalem Mix noodle bowl.
Where: 12 Ha-afarsek and 43 Ets Khayim Street, Jerusalem
Contact: 072-3281863; 072-3281862
True coffee-lovers are absolutely obliged to stop by Roasters, where they serve up basically any type of coffee you can cook up in your head, fresh-brewed to perfection — espresso, Turkish, cappuccino, cold-drip, latte, ice coffee and so on — as well as craft beer, wine, juices and a selection of pastries, sandwiches and other snacks.
In true Mahane Yehuda fashion, the seating is practically in the market alley, so that you can soak up the sounds and sights while you sip on your coffee.
32 Etz Khayim Street, Jerusalem
In many ways the polar opposite of Mizrachi, Haba straddles the border of the shuk with the main entrance outside on Yaffo Street and the patio in the hidden corner of the Georgian shuk.
While it’s quite lively, the tables are spread out and the ceilings are high, so it never feels cramped, and the patio is usually pretty serene by Mahane Yehuda standards.
The menu is definitely geared toward brunch with dishes like shakshuka, eggs benedict with whitefish, croque madame, salads, sandwiches and a gauntlet of fresh-baked breads and pastries.
It may sound a little depraved to go to a bar before noon, but hear us out. The 90 Israeli craft beers may be the main draw at Beer Bazaar, but they also make a mean shakshuka, serve a delicious NitroCoffee (cold-brewed coffee injected with nitrogen to give it a Guinness-like head of creamy foam) and have one of the best atmospheres in the shuk.
Another cafe that embodies the spirit of the market, Shem Tov is situated on Haagas Street just off the open-air shuk.
It attracts a slightly younger, more boisterous crowd than Haba or Mizrachi, as people file in throughout the day for coffee, brunch, lunch and pre-Shabbat drinks.
While the atmosphere is authentic, if you don’t like loud, crowded spaces, we recommend going for an early coffee and breakfast before the late morning and early afternoon crowd starts packing in.
Photo: iTravelJerusalem, Alex Yampolsky, Cookie Cream, Street & Wok Market and Itay Monkendem