For this edition of ‘Beyond the Scoot’ I’m going to introduce this little segment called, ‘I’ll Bite‘: for all the fellow foodies and other low-key lovers of delicious foods. I really enjoy good food and finding places that know how to cook and present it, so why not share a few of them here as well? Here is my first gem of a restaurant to share with you- if you should ever find yourself in Jerusalem: Rachmo.
Forget all that Machaneyuda talk and head over to this local favorite. The restaurant is located near the Machane Yehuda market, off one of the side streets (Ha’armonim Street) from the main artery of the shuk. Rachmo serves “real Israeli food” and Eastern dishes at a bargain price. (P.S. It’s Kosher.) My favorite dish here is Moussaka and how my taste buds adore its flavors. (Get there early for lunch and to avoid the crowds!)
In this is a small family run restaurant, you stand in front of a window take a tray and order (cafeteria style-like). The food is cooked on slow kerosene units and tastes superb while remaining very casual about it all. The style is Iraqi, with rice, hummus, meatballs, stuffed vegetables, Kube etc. Everything is delicious – just order a variety of foods when you are in a group so that everyone can taste many types of dishes. There are options for vegetarians as well: “Best hummus I’ve ever tasted, superb food overall & vegetarian haven!” And other overheard quotes: “Their sweet and sour kubbe soup is to die for” and “Absolutely a must while in Jerusalem”.
Foodie and the Feast.
Here is a great little blog post about the various (good!) places to eat around the Shuk area in Jlem. Click it out here, Dining at The Shuk. Her blog is a pretty great blog about various Israel ects in general, if that interests you as well. This is what she said about Rachmo,
“A pre-state institution that sits just a few meters away from the hustle and bustle of the shuk, Rachmo sits as a long-standing staple of the area. Rachmo has been serving up Iraqi/Kurdish Jewish soul food since the 1930s. And although the restaurant is housed in a somewhat oddly-shaped corner building, with scuffed edges and without any prizes for its decor, it’s the food that has been drawing people back here since the days of the British Mandate. Grab a tray and wait in the probably-lengthy line filled with sullen Israeli workingmen, get up to the kitchen window and make your choice from the standard selection of hummus, kubeh soup (and plenty of other soups), goulash, schnitzel, stuffed peppers and grape leaves, steak and anything else you would think to find on the menu of an Israeli restaurant of this type. Prices are low, making this an excellent stop for travelers on a budget.”
Seriously, budget or not, it is a great place to find yourself and a true Israeli jewel- without all that pretense and flash.
Rashmo is highly recommended for a quick sit-down meal, as you’ll get looks if you plan on kickin’ back and taking up the table after you’ve finished your meal. Get coffee at the next stop, since they don’t serve it here anyway. Which is kind of charming, in its own way and the rush isn’t seen as uncomfortable. It is actually a great way to experience the Israeli personality, only as a meal, while taking in everything else as it happens around you. They are even on Foursquare!
Oy, my belly!
A few more write-ups about Rachmo:
“In Jerusalem, a city rich with culinary tradition and excitement, I visited Rachmo, just off the Machane Yehudah shuk, a place I have been to several times before that never ceases to satisfy my palette with its soulful Kurdish cuisine. The staple of Rachmo is kube soup, a hearty meal of spiced meat dumplings served with a broth soured with melach limon (citric acid or lemon salt). There are, however, three variations on the broth. The first is selek, a deep scarlet, cooked with a copious amount of beets and onions and inherently sweet. The second, adom (red), is made with a mix of mostly root vegetables that, in addition to turmeric and tomato paste, stain the soup a rich orange/red color. The third is chamusta, a slow-simmered mix of Swiss chard, spinach, beet leaves and turnips. Picking a winner from among the three is difficult because each is so unique. Kube soup is one of those home-style dishes where you can taste the love of the person who prepared it, and Rachmo has the best rendition outside of your Kurdish mother’s home.”
“A round the Machane Yehuda shuk, a heavily Kurdish area of town, restaurants tend to specialize in Middle Eastern grandma food, rib-sticking specialties from kubbeh to calf’s foot soup. So it goes with Rachmo, a restaurant that has stood in the same location at the foot of Ha-Eshkol Street since the 1930s. Rachmo offers an array of local delicacies, including a noteworthy orez ve-she’u’it (rice and beans) and an impressive lineup of memula’im (stuffed vegetables), but the hummus is what’s kept the regulars coming back for over seventy years. It’s not the best hummus in Jerusalem, but atmosphere counts for a lot: the walls are lined with the requisite antique cooking implements and age-yellowed portraits of Sephardi holy men.”
In a nutshell: Good, basic, homey food, cheap and generous. I’ll Bite rates Rachmo a whole 4.7 out of 5 stars, because it is just that charming and satisfying in all aspects. Rachmo, 5 Haeshkol St., Jerusalem.(02) 623-4595.
Plus you can see the beginnings of the street art project from the restaurant and take a tour after you eat and walk off lunch. If you are interested in learning more about the Tabula Rasa Street Art Project, click here for my earlier post about it.