food shop

Photo by Barry A. Kaplan

In September 1892, the Jerusalem train station opened as the first and last stop of the Jerusalem-Jaffa line. It closed in 1998 and the station offices, ticket office and hall–as well as its 3000-square-meter concourse sat deserted until “First Station” was renovated and restored this past year. The site opened in May and is a venue for seven eateries, a family bazaar, a design fair for 30 designers, a running shoes store, an activity center for children and a visitors store plus a myriad of activities running seven days a week.

For those interested in food, a tour of the kosher Culinary Bazaar is a must! Nir Zook, the 37-year-old Israeli-born chef, has worked in restaurants in Israel, France and the U.S. since the age of 13. He currently owns three restaurants in Jaffa: Cordelia, which is upscale, candlelit and romantic, its little sister “Noa,” and the Jaffa Bar.

When Avi Murdoch, partner in the management team and entrepreneur, created the idea of making the old train station a center for culture and food, he approached Zook with the idea of a culinary bazaar in what was once the storage room for goods being shipped to Tel Aviv. Sure enough, the idea took off.

On the patio is a seating area with clever stools made from used tires with grass-like seats. A restaurant will also soon open here. Next to the seating area is a bar with drinks and produce for sale on one side as well as a candy bar with candies, spices and dried fruit, nuts and snack varieties on the other.

On the opposite side of the bar, is a  booth owned by Michal Havirian and her husband from Moshav Nocham (near Bet Shemesh, 15 miles from Jerusalem). The booth sells 50-60 different kinds of organic produce, freshly picked for only a day’s sales.

kosher cheeses

Photo by Barry A. Kaplan

Inside the old building are 10 kiosks.

  • First is a booth where fresh falafel and hummus are sold.
  • Next is Itzhik, who sells 150-200 kosher cheeses and 150 different kinds of wine from 30 wineries around Jerusalem plus one from the Golan.
  • A third shop sells pots and pans imported from France; it will soon sell knives and operate a knife-sharpening service.
  • Nir Elimelech operates a fish shop. Soon fisherman accessories will be available, and one can organize a fishing trip with him.
  • October 15, a butcher shop opened.
  • Another stall sells halva, tchina and baklava.
  • At the pizza/pasta stand, one can eat or buy fresh pasta to take home.
  • Gruda’s Bakery, made by Leon Gruda, pastry chef, has breads, cakes, tortes, cookies, quiches and croissants to eat here or take home.
  • At Daskalide’s, one can buy one Belgian chocolate or boxes, chocolate chips, all sizes of gifts items and gift baskets.
  • Tom runs the coffee shop, Café Barista, where beans are roasted and one can drink the house coffee, made from five different kinds of beans, or take home a bag of coffee.
  • Snacking in the Culinary Bazaar is a fun experience; wandering through the bazaar to buy foods for home is definitely an entertaining and enjoyable  time one wants to repeat on a regular basis.

Photo by Barry A. Kaplan

Whether you live in the Backa/German Colony/Arnona/Nachlaot area or are visiting Jerusalem for just a few days, the First Station is definitely a must-visit. Spend a night out with that special someone, or take a jog along the train tracks in the evening. You’re sure to be left with an urge to come back for more good fun!