Modest Road Map for Jerusalem

While sitting at a table draped in a blue and white checkerboard cloth, in the Jerusalem Market & Deli (which is tucked into the same North Miami strip mall addendum as the Mexican restaurant Paquito's), I came up with a "Road Map for Better Mideast Food." What makes me so optimistic about my plan's success is that it requires implementation of but two simple proposals. The first is a ban on microwave ovens in any establishment that serves falafel. These fried chickpea balls were never meant for zapping -- nor, for that matter, should pita breads be heated via anything other than a griddle or grill. This ban will lead to more freshly cooked and vibrantly textured falafels, shawarma, keftas, and kibels, which, I think you'll agree, offers us our best prospect for improved Middle Eastern cuisine.

The Jerusalem Market is a peaceful place to sit and indulge in such idle thoughts. Six tables with four seats around each form the "deli" part of the store, along with a counter behind which the foods get prepared. The décor is provided by the other sector of space, a market featuring shelves lined with all manner of groceries imported from the Middle East. Glass refrigerator doors along the back wall open to other fetching imports, like a wide array of cook-at-home bourekas (spinach, cheese, or meat-filled pockets of pastry).

Although disappointed at the microwaved nature of the falafel and pita at Jerusalem, I was impressed with a number of its other offerings, most notably the velvety smooth hummus and a baba ghannouj imbued with subtle undertones of charred eggplant flavor. Best all-around bet might be the cold combo plate, with these salads as well as tabbouleh, pink pickled cabbage slaw, and pita bread. You can get co-owner Sam, who often works behind the counter, to toss a couple of falafel balls onto the plate too. If your timing is right, they might even be fried to order.

I wouldn't bet the Western Wall that you'll like "manaeesh," which is pita bread baked with a topping of sesame seeds, oregano, thyme, and olive oil. On the other hand, if you do have a taste for manaeesh, this is probably the only place in town that makes it.

Char-grilled chicken kebabs were moist and flavorful -- better than either the lamb or kefta kebabs (kefta being a highly spiced ground meat mixture). As with most foods here, kebabs come in a sandwich (we will assume they remove the skewers), or on a platter with numerous salads and pita bread (great deal for $7.99).

Finish with the usual honey-drenched Mediterranean desserts, or a wedge of chocolate-coated halvah cut from a large slab. For an unusual post-dessert treat, you can purchase one of numerous hookahs displayed atop the grocery shelves, take it home, and enjoy a leisurely smoke of hashish (not supplied by the Jerusalem Market).

Wait a minute, I just remembered something -- that was supposed to be the second proposal in my Road Map for Better Mideast Food.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >