The Machane Yehuda market has given its name—that is, if you say it quickly, as most Jerusalemites do—to the restaurant Machneyuda, located nearby on Beit Ya’akov Street.
Even with reservations you often have to wait to be seated at Machneyuda—but once inside, all customers are happy, filling every table downstairs as well as the balcony that runs around the upper level. The restaurant space does double duty as a pantry: the walls are lined with shelves holding bottles of wine and baskets of vegetables. The music pulses; the waiters are charming, multilingual, and solicitous; and the restaurant’s three chefs, Assaf Granit, Uri Navon, and Yossi Elad, have taken on near-celebrity status.
At Machneyuda, it is almost a tradition that as the evening wears on the music escalates. Customers may well break into dance, and the chefs often join them—though such fireworks do not detract from the pyrotechnics of the food. The menu is coyly worded, many entries acknowledging their inspirations—“Sweetbreads and malawach like in Yemen,” “Seafood soup Uri Buri style” (named for a famous Akko chef)—or intriguing the reader: “Fish tartar doing synchronized swimming”; “400 grams of entrecôte you just don’t want to miss.” The desserts range from the loopy (but delicious) “Snickers-bar 2.0,” a brownie and peanut-butter mousse, to the most traditional malabi, a delicate, creamy rose-and-orange-inflected Israeli custard that is a mainstay on the the menu. And who could resist the invitation to try their “F***ing amazing Swiss cheese and fig jam”?
At Machneyuda, the dancing is not a distraction; it is simply a celebration of life and wonderful food.