At the entrance, clothing, jewelry and knickknacks quickly transition into a foodie haven. The choices are endless: za’atar brushed pitas, oversized studded bagels, towers of gummy candies, and chunks of stacked halva (sesame confections) are all on display. Merchants’ stalls brim with farm-fresh yellow, red and watermelon cherry tomatoes, full-bodied oranges, scarlet strawberries and plump citrus fruit. What’s more are the recent culinary stalls that have popped up with made-to-order delicacies to grab-and-go and the landmark specialty markets vending that special sauce you’ve been looking for everywhere else.
For the home-cook and ingredient-obsessed, look no further than Mizrach Maarav – East West Market (17 HaCarmel St). This corner shop brings together every condiment from around the world. Get your Sriracha on, with rows of Asian sauces, noodles of all kinds, and sushi accoutrements. All does not end here as the aisles are filled with nostalgic foods from all over the world. Duncan Hines frosting and cake mixes, liquid smoke (for adding smoke to dishes), taco shells, and exotic canned juices – the homesick can find just about any imported product here.
For a quick Israeli fast food fix, look on your right for the chef behind the grill at Makor HaBracha (11 HaCarmel St) and get yourself an oversized pita or ciabatta bun stuffed with grilled chicken, kebab, or other spiced meats.
If you love meat and cooking at home, turn on Chaim Chavshoosh Street at Makor Ha Bracha, then take the left to Yom Tov Street, walk past all the butchers until you find the renowned Meat Market (5 Yom Tov St). This is where culinary expertise meets old school butchery. The masterminds behind this gem are the famous Chef Yaron Kestenbaum along with lawyer and butcher, Yaniv Bar-Nur, and high tech professional, Uri Weinstein. This counter is equipped with every cut of meat you can think of, smoked specialties and experts to answer your carnivore questions. Starting March 1st, there will be seating around the corner, which will give diners the opportunity to rub elbows with the culinary staff.
Keep walking to find a foodie corner with a modern coffee shop – a stand that serves all sorts of Venezuelan specialties. In this little nook, where Shefer Street and HaCarmel Street meet, is Mae Cafe (2 Shefer St), a specialty coffee shop with “Costa Rican” vibes. Choose from any of their 100% Arabica single origin coffees or specialty blends, all roasted in-house, and experience the intoxicating aroma and flavor. Meet Yonatan Scharf, the owner, a genuine coffee connoisseur who opened Costa Rica’s first ever espresso bar in the center of its capital, San Jose, before bringing one of Costa Rica’s best assets back to Israel and opening up Mae. Ask questions and learn about the origins of the coffee and unique characteristics from skilled baristas, while sipping on your favorite java and snacking on pastries or the signature gluten-free oatmeal cookies.
Next door, drop in for lunch at Bar Ochel-Food Bar (38 HaCarmel St). This tiny booth, mid-market, is what simplicity is all about (they just added a little space to sit inside, too). Simply the best ingredients straight from the market with modest cooking techniques for well-prepared and well-seasoned street food. Grab a stool and order the kebab, the Jerusalem mix, or the shakshuka with crusty bread. Many dishes come with layers of grilled vegetables. Across the way, pick up a bottle of wine for dinner at Yayin Ba Shook, The Market Wine Shop (1 Shefer St).
Keep walking and find the Arepa’s sign to get your hands on some Venezuelan foodie fare. Make sure not to mistake this circular toasted bread for a pita, as looks can be very deceiving. This round white bun is made of maize flour (corn flour) and lightly fried on the plancha. Choose your own filling, from chicken and guacamole, to shredded beef and black beans…or just pile it all in.
Take any of these mouthwatering meals to-go and make sure to stroll down the rest of the shuk to satisfy an impending sweet tooth.