Ishtabach: Jerusalem's Kurdish Hot Spot

Ishtabach is a Kurdish restaurant located on a street corner in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market. This hidden gem is notorious for serving a single dish, called shamburak. Shamburak is a savory delicacy filled with various exotic meats, but it can be served vegetarian. Bonus, it’s kosher!

Brooke Levine, the other Delicious intern, and I decided to hit up this hot spot after our Eat Jerusalem Tour (as if we hadn’t already eaten enough!). We were told that Ishtabach’s most popular meat pastry is named the siske. Siske is meat that is cooked down for over 15 hours in wine. Brooke and I decided to be adventurous foodies and try the cheek meat pastry. Yes, we ate the cheek. It was the most tender and flavorful piece of meat I have ever had!

The juicy meat was only one part of enjoying shamburak. The meat was wrapped in a golden brown pastry that was full of black sesame seeds. Accompanying the meat, yellow mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, sweet peppers, and chimichurri were wrapped in the crunchy shell.

Shamburak is served with three side salads. They usually change weekly, depending on what is freshest in the market! We dipped our cheek meat pastry in garlic tomato jam, carrots that were pickled in Arak, and a fresh tabuli salad.

Our experience at Ishtabach was one to remember! Did I mention the waitress even treated Brooke and I to free beer at the end?

The next time you are visiting Jerusalem, Ishtabach is a must on your destination list!

Ishtabach is open Sunday-Thursday 11-1am

Istabach, HaShikma 1, Jerusalem, Israel