As the sun goes down and the last of the shoppers wend their ways to the buses home, Shuk Machane Yehuda undergoes a transformation: fruit and vegetables are replaced by beer and food; shopkeepers promising the best produce and cheapest prices are drowned out by rock and hip hop and a younger hipper crowd takes over from babushkas with their shuk carts.
It’s a hopping place to be, with a new pub or eatery seemingly opening ever week – a far cry from the shuk of only 10 years ago where getting a decent espresso was an impossibility and the only sounds after dark were the screeches of wild cats.
Recently joining the fray is Beer Bazaar, a Tel Aviv transplant with a simple concept: the best of Israeli craft beers, good, well priced and uncomplicated pub food and friendly knowledgeable staff. I happen to know one of the owners and had got a heads up that it was opening and when I saw that the finishing touches were just about ready, I figured it was time to round up some drinkers and give it a shot!
Although we arrived fairly early, the place was jumping and no tables were available; a problem soon solved as surrounding stores closed and had their shop fronts commandeered by a combination of small tables and overturned beer crates equipped with rudimentary table cloths. Fresh spicy popcorn was brought to the tables and replenished upon request – a nice touch.
On tap were 8 Israeli beers, some familiar, others more obscure, a cider and nitro brew coffee – something of a novelty which I’ll have to try some other time. It’s clear that the staff love their beers and are happy to talk about them and offer sample sized portions. I tried a Negev Oasis which would be better suited to the summer – perfect for a barbecue on a hot day and went on to try a very good Fat Cat which I understand is brewed specially for them.
The food menu is short but interesting. I had a beef hot dog and added some of the house chili which is cooked in stout and bitter chocolate and has plenty of flavour together with just the right amount of kick. The chili is also available by itself and the deli sandwiches on the menu are also worth a look. Most of the menu was 25 – 35 shekels which can’t really be argued with.
Beer Bazaar also offers bottles of beer and cider for sale – currently 6 for NIS 69 – the range is huge (currently over 100 different bottles apparently) and choosing wasn’t easy – they are categorised library style by their type so I worked through and chose a lager, IPA, porter, amber ale, wheat beer, winter ale and am happily working my way through them.
Although somewhat lacking in atmosphere it’s certainly a fun place to hang out with some friends. For so long, the choice in pubs was limited to Tuborg, Carlsberg or Goldstar so it’s a pleasure to have a pub offering none of the above and showcasing some really fine locally produced beers. Definitely worth a return visit (more likely several) – one of my favourite new places.
Beer Bazaar, Etz Chayim Street (Covered shuk, Rechov Yafo end)