Recommendations for Everyday Jerusalem Life
I love writing about politics and culture, but for real knowledge about life in Israel, nothing beats recommendations for everyday. So allow me to share my favorite go-to places in Jerusalem with you.
• Restaurant for a Quick Bite: I don’t know what I did before the Mahaneh Yehuda renaissance. The shuk is near home and work, and is always fun and fabulous for shopping as well as a bite. Pasta Basta is my all-time favorite, with its: myriad seating options in prime socializing territory – i.e. next to fish and chips and the bars; laid-back waitstaff who will always give you more of that yummy salad dressing on the side; and of course, the pasta, which is made on-site, fresh and not pricey (a novelty in Israel). My favorite meal is fettuccine with tomato sauce (a flat NIS 19) with the addition of roasted eggplant (NIS 4), green salad (NIS 15), and a shared bottle of the house red wine (an insanely affordable NIS 35 for the first time, NIS 25 if you recycle the bottle). If you don’t see me there twice a week, call the mishtara (cops), since something is seriously wrong.
8-10-12 Hatoot St., in the Shuk
• Neighborhood Watering Hole: I’ve been hanging out at the shuk so much that I’ve neglected going out in town, but with my and my coworkers’ discovery of The Barrel, that has changed. At the bottom of Hillel Street, the bar is great for happy hour, with a mixed crowd of Israelis and Anglos coming to take a load off after work. Watch day turn into night and admire the passing Jerusalemites – being Jerusalem this consists of assorted hellraisers and nuns – from your perch at the bar, which is open to the street. And the shnitzelonim (chicken fingers) sure are great.
33 Hillel St.
• Coffee Shop: In the middle of Katamon suburbia is Duvshanit, a bakery cum hafuch shop where old-timers go to sit all day and shoot the shizzle. Drink your delicious coffee, eat your scrumptious danish, watch life go by and imagine it is 1962.
42 Hapalmach St.
• Supermarket: For the longest time I refused to do my food shopping anywhere but in the Talpiot industrial area, since anything near my home in Old Katamon – a very Anglo and thus very expensive (“rich Americans”) area – would bankrupt me. But Ma’ayan 2000, located between the shuk and the central bus station, has been a revelation, allowing me to shop at my leisure when I’m in town. Patronized mostly by haredim, they still leave me alone when I buy reasonable tomatoes in my tank top. And the cashiers are sympathetic when I complain about tax increases.
Jaffa Rd., across from the Haturim light rail stop
• Dry Cleaner: Super Clean Hapalmach, despite its location smack in the middle of the “Anglo Bubble,” is surprisingly affordable. They also do a good job, and I enjoy interacting with the surly British/South African (still not sure which) proprietress and her more cheery husband. And if you are unsatisfied, they will stand behind their product. After the fur collar on my white winter coat didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it, they sent it to a seamstress (at their expense) who did a good job.
Davidka Dry Cleaning is slightly (and I mean a wee bit) more expensive, but is always professional and centrally located in town.
16 Hapalmach St.
Davidka Dry Cleaning
3 Davidka Square
• Wine Store: One of the blessings of living in Israel is that delicious and affordable kosher wines are a dime a dozen, and the Ha’achim Nechemia spirits store certainly makes that a reality. Located in Mahaneh Yehuda, yet not uncomfortable on Fridays (a miracle), they make each transaction feel like a personal relationship, at least for me. Even if an individual wine is NIS 28, I manage to get 4 for NIS 100 each time. I must be a great bargainer, eh?
73 Agrippas St.
• Bookstore: Being an avid reader, I’ve had a hard time with Israel’s dearth of “stay and hang out a while”-type bookstores. The Steinmatsky in the heart of the German Colony has changed that. With a small upstairs area boasting a large-ish table and chairs that says, “Sit. Stay a spell and read the coffee table books about furniture in New York City brownstones,” I feel more at home already.
43 Emek Refaim, Hamoshava