In the last few years the “Mahane Yehuda” shuk (Hebrew for market) has seen some major changes. If you really want to feel the Jerusalem vibe, the shuk is the place to be. From catholic nuns to ultra orthodox Hasidic Jews, in this market place you can see them all. Personally, I love the shuk, the vibrant energy, colors, scents, tremendous diversity and most importantly, the people make it the best market place in Israel.
By the way, Mahane Yehuda is not the original name of this marketplace, but rather of the neighborhood opposite it which was established in 1887. Over the course of time the name came to include the marketplace as well. The construction of the actual shuk was completed in 1931, and a sign bearing the marketplace's official name was erected.
The marketplace has recently undergone several renovations, and upgrades. Following these renovations, which made the market very accessible and clean, the shuk has now officially transformed into a “hang out” and not only a place to shop.
But nostalgia and history aside, today I want to tell you about a new restaurant-caf? situated in a quaint alley in the heart of the Mahane Yehuda market. After making my rounds and greeting all of my regular vendors, I met up with a friend and made my way towards the Emile caf?.
Owners Avi and Ohelia greeted us with a warm smile and made us feel right at home. We were seated outside overlooking a spice store and an extremely photogenic old lady selling fresh eggs and grape leaves. Emile offers a lot more than just good coffee and food it provides a full shuk experience.
After browsing the menu, and drinking an Espresso Ristretto (Italian for short), which in my opinion is one of the best cups of coffee you will find in the area, breakfast was served. We started off with Emile’s famous Khachapuri, served with homemade tahini and olives. The Khachapuri is a traditional crispy Georgian pastry stuffed with suluguni cheese. After shaking off the crumbs, an assortment of grilled vegetables in olive oil and fresh herbs arrived at our table. These included zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes, cauliflower topped with raw tahini and our favorite roasted red and yellow peppers with whole cloves of garlic.
Soon after, Ohelia came out from the kitchen to check up on us, and without hesitation we ordered the spinach shakshuka. This rich creamy dish which is made with fresh spinach, heavy cream, and mozzarella is a refreshing and delicious change when comparing it to the traditional tomato based shakshuka.
And now for the grand finale, although I promised my girlfriend that I will watch my weight, we just couldn’t pass up Emile’s special cheese cake. This rich and decadent cake is made with white chocolate and a dark chocolate and cranberry base. I am sure that after eating this cake I probably gained a few grams, but let me tell you it was well worth it.
8 HaTut, Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem