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The open-air market or “Shuk” (also spelled Shuq, or Souq) is a typical fixture of a Middle Eastern city. Tel Aviv’s shuk, known as Shuk Ha Carmel, is one of my favorite places in Tel Aviv. I visit it every week — sometimes twice a week — and it is the cheapest, easiest, and most fun way to buy groceries. You can buy anything from clothing and children’s toys to fresh fish and cake decorating supplies. Come take a virtual tour of the Shuk with me and I will show you some of my favorite things.

Shuk greens

There are several stands in the Shuk where you can buy various types of fresh greens for “grushim,” a paltry amount of money.  Israelis use a large amount of parsley, as well as other herbs, in their cooking. This is a great place to get large bunches.

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One of the great things about grocery shopping in the Shuk and in Israel in general is the seasonality of all the fruits and vegetables. I find myself valuing fruits and vegetables more because I know they will be available only for a limited time. Strawberries are just going out of season now and nectarines have become available.

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A fixture of almost every Israeli city’s Shuk is a stand that sells baklava, an amazing Middle Eastern delicacy. The stand in Ha Carmel has huge trays of all types of baklava to choose from.

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Not only can I buy ingredients but also supplies for cooking and baking! There are some great house supply stores in the Shuk that sell a large variety of products for cheaper than you can find them anywhere else in Tel Aviv. It’s really fun to browse and come up with the next cooking project.

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The Shuk is also a great place to buy fresh cut flowers! This stand at the end of the Shuk near Carmelit Bus Station will take flower orders, make custom bouquets, and even sells house plants.

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ImageOne of my favorite stores at the Shuk is Ma’afiyat Lehamim (Bakery of Breads). They make some amazing Challa as well as other fresh breads, cookies, and cakes. They usually offer free samples, too, if you want to drop by.

ImageAnother hidden gem at the Shuk is Mizrach VeMa’arav (East and West), the import store. They stock various things that come from all over the world. Miss making Mexican food? You can find supplies here. Want some unusual Asian or Indian spices? This is the place to look. Have a craving for American style Root Beer? This is the place. Its always great to take a brief browse around the store as they are always bringing new stuff.

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Another great place to shop is Nitzat Haduvdevan, the organic market at the Shuk. They have a great selection of organic produce and natural items for reasonable prices. Remember the special cheese I used in my post about Aja? You can find that here.

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Lastly, a great place to grab a quick bite. My friends and I call her the “Laffa Lady” and she makes a special type of large, thin pita called a laffa, which can be filled with labane (a special kind of cheese) or hummus (chickpea paste). It is really delicious.

Have a great time at the Shuk; hopefully I’ll see you there soon!

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