gap year in israel

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Once evening falls and the sellers have packed up for the day Machne Yehuda market transforms into one of the most vibrant night scenes that Jerusalem has to offer.

The market is home to a number of bars, cafes and restaurants and most evenings they are full to the brim with locals and tourists enjoying a drink or a meal. Of course week nights tend to be quieter but Thursday night at the market is an atmosphere that is definitely worth experiencing.

One of the most famous bars in the market is called Casino de Paris. Part of the reason for its fame is the building’s colourful history. It is well over a hundred years old and in the past it has housed a casino, a hotel, a British officer’s club and even a brother! Don’t worry though, now it is one of the classiest places in the market. It stays open until the small hours of the morning serving a range of original house cocktails, wine, beer and a fantastic dairy menu.

If you’re looking for a meal, then you could do a lot worse than trying Pasta Basta. It serves home-made pasta throughout the day and night and there is a bar and outdoor seating area with an extremely friendly atmosphere. You simply choose what type of pasta you would like and then go and select from the huge range of toppings. Of course, you should also sample the wine on tap which changes nearly every week.

For a slightly more energetic atmosphere you can check out Cinco De Mayo. The bar regularly hosts DJs which play different styles of music and people stay there eating, drinking and dancing until around 2am. Be warned, it is a hugely popular place and from about 10:30pm on a Thursday you will probably have to fight for a seat, but you can always just buy a drink and join the crowds hanging out in the alleyway. Furthermore, on Sunday evenings they put a grill in the middle of the market and cook fresh fish and vegetables which are delicious.

One of the great things about Israel is that it is easy to find all styles of cuisine and at Machne Yehuda market this is certainly the case. For instance, Que Pasa is a restaurant that has set out to recreate Spain’s tapas culture. They have a menu full of dairy and fish tapas dishes including Bruschetta Cuca and Porcini Bruschetta. If you’re really hungry you can get larger portions of gnocchi, fish fillets and more. Best of all, the place hosts local musicians on a regular basis so it is a great venue to discover the local talent.

These are just a few of the many establishments that make Machne Yehuda such a lively place in the evenings. Just spending a bit of time there and exploring what is on offer is a great way to pass an evening with friends and you are sure to find a few favourites of your own.