Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Hidden Gems of Jerusalem

 ט"ו לחודש השישי תשע"ג

I wrote this positive and upbeat piece to balance out the more smarmy Top Ten Pretentious Hangouts in Jerusalem.

10. Cafe Neto, Central Bus Station, 3rd Floor
Most of you know how much I try to avoid "chains." According to my mother['s halakhah], the chain stores one is allowed give ones patronage are Nordstom and Neiman-Marcus, and when she is in a charitable mood, Macy's. But, I digress... Not to be confused with all of the other Cafe Neto's around the country, this Jerusalem institution for natives, students, and tourists, makes an awesome "toast" with salad dressings added onto to the skillet at the end of "toasting" for that gourmet, fast food taste! But, the super friendly service and efficiency are Cafe Neto's trademark. Remember, speed is crucial when you have to catch a bus! I remember very clearly a young, mentally disabled lady, who asked for, and got a hug from one of the coffee jockeys. It was very touching to see, and it was clear that it was given from a genuine place. I had been going there for years already, but I was won over even more by that gesture. This internet cafe (ie. "neto") also has a printer for those urgent situations when pen and paper just won't cut it. Cafe Neto is certified kosher by the Jerusalem Rabbanuth-Mehadrin division (Dairy), with a meat satellite on another part of the floor.

9. Martziano's Baguette Giv'ath Sha'ul, is another Jerusalem institution for big sandwiches with fresh shnitzel, shwarmah, qabbab, and cold cuts, soups, a large variety of salads, and Thursday night chollent, open late, and crowded after any Beitar Yerushalayim football (soccer) match. Certified kosher by the Jerusalem Rabbanuth-Mehadrin division (Meat), the manager will tell you which meats have which heksher, for those who are maqpid.

8. Allo Teiman! (Hello, Yemen!) is at the main entrance to the modern City of Jerusalem, coming in from the coast. Open late, authentic Yemenite food is served here. In addition to three or four different kinds of meat on a spit, the soups are a big hit here. Kashruth supervision by Rav Shlomo Mahpud.

7. T'mol Shilshom, Nahalath Shiv'ah
Named after the novel by Shai Agnon (1945), this choice for my list of gems may surprise you, as some think this place, overlooking Yoel Solomon Street is way too trendy, and maybe it is. But, the homey feel to the interior design and the standard, but strong dairy and vegetarian menu, and the semi-hidden away location gives this restaurant my vote. I remember when it was primarily coffee and books, with a burgeoning English language, poetry slam on Wednesday nights. Now, it is a Jerusalem institution. Try the velvety carrot soup. You might like it, even if you do not like carrots. Jerusalem Rabbanut (Dairy).

6. The Shuq-Mahaneh Yehudah
There are all kinds of eateries and pubs open at night, all through the Shuq, and on some the neighboring side streets, including live music a couple nights a week. Many of the restaurants are also open during the day. Nu? Who knew? Enjoy!

5. Navah Cafe, Center City
Sit and have coffee in the trendy part of town, without being trendy! Navah is an old school, Israeli coffeehouse, with a facelift. It serves great salads, pasta dishes, desserts, and is one of the few places which actually serves a decent cup of coffee. I suppose I am spoiled. Kashruth certification is from the Jerusalem Rabbanuth (Dairy).

4. HaFinjan, Agrippas St. 149
A favorite of my friends Pini and David, HaFinjan is THE place for Israeli home cooking. Qubeh, lamb stew, ful, soups, vegetables, and, of course, humous. You name it! Meet Hayim, the owner, and you will feel right at home. Incidentally, a finjan is basically any vessel used for making coffee, with a handle. But, the one pictured right is what one might traditionally consider a finjan.

3. Sushiya, Nahla'oth
This traditional sushi bar, where your order is prepared right in front of you, is located off the main drag, where only locals, and their friends, and now you, can find it! (Trumpedor & Betzalel) A friendly, and unpretentious staff serve you and your friends at the bar, at the single booth, or outside at this very small, but cozy venue. The religious, Israeli-American supplier fish supplier eats there himself. There are vegetarian options, miso soup, and booze for those of you whom imbibe. Kosher (pareve) - Jerusalem Rabbinuth.

2. הסלון בשבזי | Hasalon Beshabazi, Nahla'oth
I haven't been here, yet, but I can tell it is one of the places to go, and be seen. Couches on the inside and plenty of seating on the outside, with occasional events such as music, discussions, and a vintage fashion.

1. Y-Coffeebar, Nahla'oth
I feel ambivalent about revealing my secret hang-out, on Nissim Bechar Street. It's mostly locals, their friends, and the occasional tourist who accidentally finds us, usually someone with a backpack, or at least an interesting story to tell. So far, this is where I have had the best cup of coffee in Israel, after mine made from a $2,000 Italian machine, at the Internet cafe where I used to work.

Now, it's your turn. Please leave your suggestion for a Jerusalem gem as a comment below!

6 comments:

Batya said...

What about HaGov? It's the only bar & grill I ever go to.

PS send this to KCC, thanks

Shy Guy said...

Cafe Fe, Rechov Yanai 2, (050) 640-6400

The proprietor roasts his own blends, using high quality beans. He is a one man show. The cafe is the size of 2 small storage rooms but that's enough space to sit and sip.

There is no better coffee! And that's basically all that you get there, coffee.

Deliveries generally made on orders of 1 kilo or more. He will grind according to your machine or request.

Esser Agaroth said...

Batya, Isn't HaGov very American? (no offense) ;-)

Shy Guy, OOH! Sounds interesting! I'll have to check it out. And, it's in a not so trendy (yet) area, unless Ben-Sira is considered trendy. That's a plus!

Shy Guy said...

Esser, you obviously have not been to Ben Sira in about a decade.

Besides the beautiful headquarters of Bituach Leumi (just kidding!), the entire street is nothing but restaurants and pubs, buzzing day and night. My kashrut standards limit where I can eat there but I get hungry just entering the area and smelling the cooking.

Of course, Yanai is not Ben Sira but great coffee is still great coffee and Cafe Fe most certainly is entitled to be called a gem.

Esser Agaroth said...

Yeah, I guess Ben Sira is trendy.

Devash said...

"at the main entrance to the modern City of Jerusalem, coming in from the coast."

I like that you put it that way since I enter Jerusalem every day through its main entrance from the East. :-D

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