7 Great Reasons to Dine in Jaffa's Flea Market

A new concept in hummus and the tastiest basbusa around are only some of the tasty surprises awaiting you.

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A meat platter from Pundak Deluxe.
A meat platter from Pundak Deluxe.Credit: Rotem Maimon

Unconventional hummus: Khan Manoli

Since last summer, the murmurings have been growing among devoted foodies – “Have you tried the hummus at Khan Manoli?” There’s a new hummus place in town that’s so exciting it has rapidly become a site of pilgrimage. But what could be so exciting about hummus? Well, aside from shaking off the sacred concept of hummus and its additions, which can include whole chickpeas, chef Felix Rosenthal prepares each serving to order with a mortar and pestle (yes, it takes a little time), making it the airiest hummus in town. On top of that, he and his partner Chen Rosenhek have slaughtered the sacred cow and put everything they like into the hummus – including gorgeous roast chicken with red onion, parsley and mint; tomatoes in masabha (hummus blended with tehina); lamb with pickled onions and sumac; calamari and more.

Suddenly we didn’t recognize the old familiar hummus; instead, we found an aromatic and unconventional new interpretation. How many times can one eat the same old thing anyway? Our favorite discovery was just how marvelous it is to combine a butcher’s cut of meat with hummus. Just bear in mind that toward evening, hummus recedes into the background while Rosenthal gets busy producing fish and seafood dishes. Don’t be confused; this isn’t really a hummus joint – it’s the taverna with the meze you’ve always been looking for, one of which happens to be simply outstanding hummus.

Khan Manoli, 7 Beit Eshel Street

Hummus from Khan Manoli.Credit: Rotem Maimon

Herb and lentil salad with raw tehina: Farouk Bashuk

“Here, when everyone else in the flea market is closing up shop, we’re just opening,” says Yoni Solomon, one of the managers of Farouk Bashuk. He cites King Farouk of Egypt as an inspiration for the name. This suits the Middle Eastern-Mediterranean atmosphere of the place, which opened just a few months ago. Our recommendation is to go for the salad. Let’s admit it – making a really good salad is no easy feat, considering the two key unwritten rules: First, that the salad fulfill its central purpose – to be healthy; and second, that it still be indulgent and tasty, since after all we came here to enjoy ourselves. And here they’ve added a third rule: making a salad you couldn’t fix for yourself at home – and this is a real challenge for restaurants. Well, the herb and lentil salad with tehina at Farouk Bashuk meets all these requirements – it is both healthy and super-delicious, deserves all kinds of other superlatives, and is certainly worth going out for. What is in this salad? Lots of chopped herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro), cranberries, walnuts, red onion, cherry tomatoes, black lentils and, of course, a generous helping of raw tehina that binds all the ingredients together in one big celebration.

Farouk Bashuk, 6 Rabbi Nahman Street

Herb and lentil salad from Farouk Bashuk.Credit: Roni Kashmin

American-Jaffa style smoked meat: Pundak Deluxe

Let’s talk for a moment about a match made in heaven. Take good food that makes no apologies, season with a little alcohol and good music and serve at a reasonable price. It sounds so simple it makes you wonder why there aren’t more places like this. This formula pretty much sums up Pundak Deluxe, which is modeled on American barbecue joints, with their half-broken seats and flickering neon signs. The seats here are still in good condition, as the place has been a part of the scene here for less than a year. Its popularity is growing, with tourists coming from as far away as Haifa, Ashkelon and even Australia – thanks in part to rave reviews on various sites, including TripAdvisor, where it has claimed the top spot more than once. And all because this is a place that keeps its promises. An example: the Deluxe Mix (in three sizes – individual, double or triple), which comes with three sauces (beet ketchup, horseradish mayonnaise and classic barbecue), along with corn bread and coleslaw, plus up to three side dishes (depending on the size of the order), such as French fries, corn on the cob, fennel salad or macaroni and cheese, and most important – a platter heaped with meat, and this in a day and age when talking about and serving meat has become almost taboo.

Pundak Deluxe, 7 Olei Tzion Street

Semolina cake and malabi ice cream: Hatzo’aniya

Semolina from Hatzo’aniya.Credit: Rotem Maimon

Semolina is looking to be the “it” grain this winter, appearing in all kinds of pastas and breads, but mainly in little cakes and other desserts, including the season’s rising star: basbousa (“kiss” in Arabic) – a sweet semolina cake. One place to find stupendous basbousa, wonderfully paired with malabi ice cream, is at Hatzo’aniya (“The Gypsy Woman”) – a new place in the Greek market adjacent to the Jaffa flea market. Served together, the two are an absolute delight. Perhaps you’d like to start your meal with the marvelous platter of Balkan meze that comes with homemade sesame pastry that is similarly out of this world. You’ll also find a sophisticated version of the burik – a pastry stuffed with a mash of cheese, potato, spinach and egg. The burik here is paired with a cheese fondue and poached egg. In short, there’s no better place for a nice little Balkan celebration.

Hatzo’aniya, 3 Pinchas Ben-Yair Street

Balkan meze from Hatzo’aniya.Credit: Ben Yuster

Shakshuka with chickpea flour: Pu’ah

You’ll surely be glad to hear that Pu’ah, one of the places that first heralded the culinary revival in the flea market, is still going strong. It’s been around for 15 years, enough to make it an elder of the tribe, and it still stands out among the ever-changing local scene. Pu’ah is a home-style bistro with a very cozy atmosphere that comes through in the lighting, the décor and especially the food – which for the most part is quite healthy, and in large part organic and vegan. One favorite here is the vegan shakshuka made with chickpea flour, and the hummus mash – in which the usual chickpeas have been elegantly replaced by a bean mash which goes just as well with the tehina that is part of the dish. And while you’re here, you might as well top off your meal with a delicious affogato or just a cold cafe latte, which is especially good here.

Pu’ah, 8 Rabbi Yohanan Street

Liver bruschetta with a shot of espresso: Fleamarket Bistro

“This is an eclectic Jaffa-New York-style bistro that doesn’t quite speak the local language,” is how Oron Askayo, the chef at Fleamarket, describes the place, which has been in operation for two and half years. Askayo has been at the helm in the kitchen for the past eight months, and a brand new winter menu was introduced two weeks ago. This is the place to go for an easygoing atmosphere and excellent food, though sometimes, especially for the weekend brunch, it can involve a bit of a wait (assuming you haven’t gone to the trouble to reserve in advance). But anything that involves brioche is quite scrumptious and worth waiting for. At Fleamarket, it’s the liver bruschetta, with pan-seared chicken livers sizzled with a shot of hot espresso. Coconut cream and maple syrup are added to the hot livers, which drink up all the sauce and are then placed atop a toasted brioche. We enjoyed the dish with a green salad gin cocktail – which comes with cucumber gin and plenty of green vegetables: lettuce, green onion, cilantro and hot green pepper. Another cocktail we couldn’t resist was the Coco Chanel margarita – a tropical and fruity sweet-hot cocktail, made with jalapeno vodka, pineapple, lychee and chili.

Fleamarket Bistro, 8 Rabbi Yohanan Street

Old-fashioned Bulgarian burekas: Leon & Sons

Jaffa old-timers still recall the days when one could stroll on and around Sderot Yerushalayim and come upon one bakery after another serving up cheesy, oily Bulgarian burekas. But the avenue has undergone a major change, with health food and chef restaurants taking over, and now you have to look harder to find some of those good old tasty carbs. If it’s burekas you’re after, look no further than Leon & Sons, a Jaffa institution. The story began with Joli, who made aliya from her native Bulgaria and only knew how to make filo dough. Her son Leon would ride around Jaffa on his bicycle, selling the dough, which eventually turned into burekas. Leon learned the secret recipe from his mother, and when he grew up and became a father, he passed the knowledge on to his sons. Leon’s progeny added more Turkish and Bulgarian pastries from recipes they learned from their grandmother, and created a veritable temple to filo dough, with a wide range of savory and sweet options. The only drawback: It’s impossible to eat just one.

Leon & Sons Burekas, 17 Olei Tzion Street

Burekas from Leon & Sons.Credit: Rotem Maimon

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