During the day, it’s Jerusalem’s bustling food market, offering an international palette of fresh flavors. But after dark, Machane Yehuda becomes the hottest night spot, buzzing with street art, street food, live music, and alcoholic drinks.
Shuk Machane Yehuda, or just “The Shuk” as it is known in Jerusalem, is the city’s bustling commercial heart. The locals buy their fresh meat, fish, baked goods and fresh produce here. Whatever the season, you’ll find rainbow displays of fresh seasonal and locally-grown fruit and vegetables, mountains of scented spices, plus all the delicacies of the Middle East – sesame halva, pomegranate juice, and fresh pastries that melt in your mouth.
Known as bastas, the stallholders ply their wares in characteristic Israeli style. You are invited to haggle to get a better deal, but be warned that you’re dealing with professional salesmen here! Lunchtime is a good time to visit. You can take a foodie tour through Israel’s historic cuisine, from Turkish burekas through British fish & chips and Israeli chocolate rogelach, or enjoy a fusion of modern tastes such as fresh sushi, gourmet pralines and handmade ice cream.
Shatour offers culinary tours of the Jerusalem Shuk with local chefs, who will guide you through the process of selecting the fresh produce and preparing a sumptuous meal in their professional kitchen. Alternatively, you can wander the maze of alleyways with an audio guide and take the Shuk Bite Card tour, including 6 vouchers that enable you to sample recommended dishes and drinks.
As a visitor to the Shuk you can sample the flavors and aromas, and then take home Israel’s traditional herbs and spices to use in your own kitchen. If you are staying in Israel, you may be tempted to fill your shopping bags with freshly pickled vegetables, delicious cheeses, bags of colorful candy, and boxes of those irresistible pastries. If you are shopping for souvenirs, you can also find handmade Judaica items, natural cosmetics, designer jewelry and even kitchen supplies.
But when the stall-holders close their shutters, the Shuk changes its mood completely, from daytime bustle into hip night life. After closing time, the painted shutters represent many of Israel’s most famous faces, and some that you will scratch your head to recognize. This is the domain of Jerusalem’s student and artists community, with restaurants and bars serving Israeli wines, boutique beers and fresh cocktails.
Day or night, you may have to stand in line to enjoy the Shuk’s leading street food restaurants. A better option may be the Yalla Basta Nightly Bite Card, which offer you a guided tour of the trendy food and beverages in the market. This voucher-based tour will take you deep into the ambiance of the night-time market, allowing you to enjoy the vibes, the graffiti and the music on the different alleyways between the stalls. Stroll at your own pace and present your vouchers to enjoy the best of the food and alcohol on offer.
Jerusalem has always been known as a city of contrasts and contradictions. Visiting the Mahane Yehuda Market by day and by night, you will be astonished at how fast she changes her clothes and her mood!