Home Cookin' in Mahane Yehuda -- Just Like Your Imaginary Israeli Mom Used to Make

Home Cookin' in Mahane Yehuda -- Just Like Your Imaginary Israeli Mom Used to Make

autor iconBy Spencer Ho

Long before it became a major tourist attraction and a hipster haven, the Mahane Yehuda Market was a blue collar market in a workers neighborhood, and the restaurant scene was dominated by home cooking joints that served tasty yet affordable dishes you’d find on an average Israeli table.

While trendy bars and restaurants have almost completely taken over, there are still a few home cooking holdouts that Israelis and visitors alike can’t get enough of, notable for serving some of the best hummus, kubeh and other dishes from the traditional Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African kitchens.

Hummus Shel Tehina

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Simple yet delicious, Hummus Shel Tehina will take your hummus experience to a whole new level with the smoothest, creamiest hummus you'll find, your choice of vegetarian add-ons like eggplant, mushrooms, egg and falafel -- and some of the best masbaha in the city.

You can find Hummus Shel Tehina just around the corner from the Mahane Yehuda Market on Nisim Bahar Street in Nahlaot.

23 Nissim Bahar Street, Jerusalem


[caption id="attachment_7806" align="alignnone" width="599"]Photo: iTravelJerusalem Photo: iTravelJerusalem[/caption]

The list has to start with Azura, tucked back behind the Iraqi Shuk and home to Jerusalem’s most beloved creamy, flavor-packed hummus.

So by all means, do go for the hummus, but stay for the many other rich dishes with roots across the Middle East and North Africa, from Morocco and Tunisia to Turkey and Iraq.

The shakshuka and kubeh soup are great, as you’d expect, but the best thing about Azura is the opportunity to try some truly out-of-the-ordinary, old-school peasant dishes, like oxtail soup or lung stew, as well as their specialty Turkish kima (layered lamb kebab, eggplant and spinach leaves dipped in gravy) or the Azura (eggplant stuffed with chopped beef, pinenuts and a special blend of spices.

4 Haeshkol Street, Jerusalem


[caption id="attachment_19487" align="alignnone" width="600"]Photo: Mushkie Heskelovich Photo: Mushkie Heskelovich[/caption]

Another Jerusalem staple that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Rachmo (right next door) also has its own hummus fan base, but it’s the kubeh is far and away the biggest star on the menu. You can either get them in one of three varieties of soup (recommended) or breaded and deep fried.

In case you don’t already know, kubeh is a dumpling stuffed with a mixture made up of ground beef, onions and spices… And it’s delicious.

Rachmo also serves a bevy of other dishes, such as Moroccan fish, goulash, roast beef and sidedish staples like mejadra (lentils and rice) and potatoes.

While the prices have certainly gone up since the old days, the cafeteria-style service at the counter and open seating keep the atmosphere fairly authentic.

5 Haeshkol Street, Jerusalem


[caption id="attachment_8679" align="alignnone" width="596"]Photo: Mordoch Photo: Mordoch[/caption]

Not far away, Mordoch has a friendly rivalry with Rachmo for the best kubeh in town, and you can’t go wrong with either.

However, if you’re in the mood for just about any kind of stuffed vegetable you can imagine, then you go to Mordoch.

Choose from stuffed grape leaves, stuffed peppers, stuffed potatoes and more.

Mordoch is also known for keeping its prices closer to its working class roots than the rest of its home cooking brethren.

70 Agrippas Street, Jerusalem


Located about a 5 minute walk from the shuk in the direction of the Central Bus Station, Hafinjan is known primarily for being a delicious hummus joint, but don’t sleep on its rotating menu of home cooking favorites like spicy North African fish, sofrito and various other stews.

Another specialty is the Turkish coffee. The restaurant actually takes its name from the small coffee pot with a long handle traditionally used to make Turkish coffee.

Hafinjan is perfect for budget travelers. Since it’s off the main drag of the market, the prices are incredibly reasonable, and the food is still delectable.

149 Agrippas Street, Jerusalem