What’s a girl to do? It had been an unusually crazy and hectic week. Between the start of Chanukah, latke making, the requisite Chanukah play at school to attend, chasing all over town to eat sufganiyot (okay – that wasn’t so stressful), an essay due at ulpan, work due for my day job, an American baseball “tournament” for the eight year old and sadly, another bout with the stomach virus that will never leave, rendering our six year-old a limp noodle for 3 days running when he was not up all night doing something that really shouldn’t be written in the same space as a food blog – I was not cooking Shabbat dinner.
Luckily, here in Jerusalem, this is NOT a problem. Because there are literally dozens of places to get delicious prepared food for Shabbat – you just need to know where to go.
First a distinction among “take-aways." Many of the take-aways have been around for a while now. It’s not exactly a new concept. However, what is new is the addition of so called “Chef restaurants” getting in on the act. Chef restaurants, as they are called here in Israel, are higher-end establishments, have professional chefs (and sometimes name chefs) who run their kitchens and cater to a higher level of gastronome, if you will. The food is more elaborate, more beautifully presented, usually very good, and definitely more expensive. There is also a difference between classic “Ashkenazi” food, which has more of the eastern European favorites that many of us Americans associate with Shabbat (and perhaps our grandmothers) versus “Sephardic” food, which broadly defined encompasses almost everything else – from Moroccan, Persian, ladino, Yemenite and Iberian influences. Neither is better; you just need to decide what you’re looking to eat. Finally, at most places, you can find an array of “salatim” or the small dishes of salads that I associate as being completely Israeli and which seem to be a standard at almost any meal you eat here. And even amongst the salatim – some have more of an “Ashkenazi” influence and others are distinctly Israeli/Middle Eastern in nature.
So whether you’ve had an unbelievably busy week, or you’ve flown in right before Shabbat and need to pull together Shabbat dinner or you just don’t feel like cooking – here are some of my favorite places to pick-up “Shabbat Take-Away”:
Maadne Tzedikiya – . Tzedikiya prepares a combination of both classic Ashkenazi food, some Middle Eastern specialties (e.g. stuffed vegetables) and Israeli salatim. There isn’t a prepared salad they don’t have there from delicious green tehina to hummus to eggplant prepared various ways (baba ganoush, roasted eggplant salad, grilled slices) to avocado dip to a version of potato salad that I love with green peas and small gherkins mixed in to a myriad of coleslaws, cucumber salad, Moroccan carrots and the list goes on. They also have an unbelievable assortment of fried delicacies- shnitzilim, Moroccan cigars, fried cauliflower, eggrolls, kube, latkes and more. Their main dishes include items like stuffed chicken, meatballs, stuffed vegetables, rice and roasted potatoes. There are several outposts of Tzedikiya to choose from – German Colony on Emek Refaim, Talpiot in Kenyon Hadar Mall on Fridays, and Mahane Yehuda.
Take Me Home – Many people know “Take Me Home” as Elvis/Take-Me-Home since the proprietors Elvis and Ayala operated a shop in German Colony for 40 years. While they have a restaurant outside of Jerusalem (in the Sonol area of Beitar, Tzur-Hadassah) which houses their primary kitchen), on Fridays you can find them in Kenyon Hadar in Talpiot as part of a trio of “take away” vendors that set up shop. Take-Me-Home has a large menu (available in English) with that same combination of classic Ashkenazi food and Israeli /Middle Eastern specialties. I particularly enjoyed their stuffed chicken with rice, and majdara (rice & lentils) and fried cauliflower. They also do a nice array of fried fish, which is great for an appetizer or for Shabbat lunch. You can find them at www.takemehome.co.il to place an order or in Kenyon Hadar n Talpiot on Fridays or call 02-5800585
Haimishe Essen – You could just as easily be in Crown Heights as on Keren Kayemet in Jerusalem when you walk in here. Chicken soup with matzo balls, gefilte fish, kugels, chopped liver and chicken wings are all possibilities for take-out from this tiny location and you can peruse the big refrigerated case housing a wide variety of salads to go along with it. If you’re in the mood for a quick lunch, Haimishe Essen also has a sit-down eating area reminiscent of a deli in NYC. 19 Karen Kayemet, Rechavia 02-563-9845
Papagaio – Papagaio is more in the category of “Chef Restaurant.” Papagaio, for those who don’t know it, is an unbelievable meat restaurant/Brazilian style steakhouse where (for not insignificant price) you are served an unlimited quantity of 9 different kinds of meat from chicken livers to pargiyot (spring chicken) to entrecote steak, all prepared on their open grills and rotisserie – which is not only a sight to behold but renders them succulent and delicious. This is one of those places where they serve you lots of salads, fresh bread, french fries (or "chips" as they are called in Israel) and other sides, but you are best not to fill up on them because you will absolutely not be able to eat all the meat to which you are entitled. If you have meat lovers in your family (and especially if you keep kosher,) this is a must-try restaurant. Several months ago, Papagaio went into the Shabbat Take-Away business and on Friday’s you can check out their stunning array of grilled meats – including rotisserie chicken, entrecote roasts coated in herbs, pargiyot skewers, brisket, and roasted chicken among others. They also have an elaborate salad table with the traditional offerings such as roasted potatoes and potato kugel but also newer and nice additions such as sweet potatoes in chili sauce and black bean and corn salad. 3 Yad Hartuzim, Talpiot or call 02-6232322
La Guta – La Guta is a Chef Restaurant in the Baka neighborhood and when we stumbled upon their take-away business early in our trip here, we couldn’t believe our eyes. All this amazingly gourmet food, beautiful, delicious and ready for Shabbat. I truly thought I might never cook Shabbat again, which obviously didn’t happen, but I did have to wonder why I bothered when the bounty of La Guta was at my disposal. One of the biggest problems with La Guta is choosing – the offerings are extensive and so it is hard to decide. They have delicious pot roast with mushrooms, and lamb with dried fruits, four different kinds of chicken including a delicious spring chicken in a Cajun style garlic and honey sauce. They have a terrific artichoke stuffed with meat in celery and lemon sauce, and schnitzel for the kids as well as other fried goodies – such as Moroccan cigars and kube with meat. They also serve three kinds of fish and several times, I have grabbed a small piece of fish for Friday lunch – so that was taken care of as well. They have a classic couscous soup – basically a vegetable soup that is served over couscous and they usually have a nice looking kube soup. As for sides – take your pick, potatoes with herbs, rice with saffron, pasta “pies” as they call them – basically crustless quiche-like entities in sweet potato or potato and herb. And yes, they have a refrigerated case for salads and often chopped liver, as well as wine and challah. It’s one-stop shopping at it’s finest. And don’t forget the fact that there is usually an open bottle of courtesy wine to pour from while you are making your selections. Go early; they open at 9:30am. The lines get long and it’s nice to peruse the selections without so many people around. You can also call and they will pack things for you and have it ready, but it’s fun to look. 34 Derech Beit Lechem, Baka 02-623-2322