Although Tel Aviv is a foodie paradise, most Israelis will tell you that when it comes to street food, nowhere in the country can compare Jerusalem. This list reflects Jerusalem’s colorful ethnic mix of street food.
If you’re a fan of falafel, Shlomo Falafel is worth stopping by. This place is located in the Bukharim quarter, a traditional ultra-orthodox neighborhood since 1946. It seems as if time stands still here: the walls are dotted with Hassidic Rabbi photos that look as if they have been untouched for years, while some guests look as though they’ve been frequenting the place for decades. The fresh and golden falafel is fried to order and has a crispy shell with a tender interior—just like a good Falafel should. This delight comes with one of the best pitas in Jerusalem, which is freshly baked from the neighboring Yemeni bakery (itself also worth a visit).
Machne Yehuda Market has established itself as the go-to location for the fresh, high quality produce, meats, and cheeses that the city has to offer. Recently, a growing number of chic restaurants, cafes and boutiques have sprouted up in the neighborhood. Of these restaurants, Pasta-Bastawas one of the first to make a name for itself. Here diners have a choice of pasta, sauce, and toppings and can craft their own pasta dish. Or try one of the pre-selected combinations, like the ‘pink dish’—beet and cream fettuccini with goat cheese. The combination of the vibrant Machne Yehuda vibe, along with the friendly wait staff and the reasonable prices make it a real shuk-style sensation.
Located in the Islamic market of the old city, Ja’afar Sweets doesn’t have an address and might take a bit of exploring to find. Opened in 1951, this shop has become a popular kanafeh paradise (kadaifnoodles pastry stuffed with a sugary cheese). There’s always a mixed crowd here: mainly local workers, but also the occasional trendy hipster and camera-toting tourist. In addition to their classic kanafeh, Ja’afar also sells a variety of Arabic sweets, the best of which is baklava (filo pastry filled with nuts and drenched in syrup). Despite the variety, the unanimous recommendation is to stick to the kanafeh—this sweet, delightful treat is good enough reason to warrant a day trip to Jerusalem.
This tiny yet vibrant Georgian bakery stands out within the bustling Machne Yehuda Market. Khachapuria serves up delicious homestyle Georgian pastries with authentic staples from all over Georgia. The place is always packed during the day, and the lines are certainly justified. Crisp Georgian delights with rich flavors that are constantly coming out of the oven. The place is best known for its khachapuri, a traditional dish of bread, filled with white Georgian cheese (you can also request a cracked egg on top of your dish). Given the long lines and made-to-order policy, order in advance or come prepared to wait.
No list of the best street food in Jerusalem would be complete without hummus. The people of Jerusalem take their hummus seriously and most locals swear by Hummus Akramawi. Located opposite Damascus Gate in the narrow alleys of the Muslim Quarter, Hummus Akramawi was established in 1952 and originally served migrant workers from the West Bank. Since then, everything has remained unchanged: the hummus here is simple, delicious and incredibly well priced.