Tag Archives: burrito

My trip down to the Bodega



This is my blog post that was published on yeahthatskosher.com! Enjoy!

If any of you have visited Gush Etzion lately, you will notice that the culinary scene has had a change, after many20141113_220948 years of only having coffee shops and dairy eateries. People demanded meat restaurants and Menachem Katz delivered. An Efrat native, who wanted to be a lawyer but ended up in the food industry for many years, and eventually fulfilled his lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant. He got his culinary education under renowned Israeli chef Yossi ben Dayan at the Hadassah college. His passions are food and music and that’s what brought him to open the Bodega.

20141113_211814Menachem decided to call the place the Bodega because at a bodega you can get your daily fix. Originally wanted to call it Avocado but “Bodega” was catchier because the abstract to the east coast. Located in the Efrat shopping mall where a supermarket used to be (ironicly), the Bodega offers a unique fusion of Mexican and Japanese cuisine. You can order sushi and a burrito in the same place. The main crowd that we met at the Bodega was a young and hip crowd, whether singles or young couples, everyone came to enjoy not only a good meal but also a live show. When I was there, there was a live jazz band scatting away while playing great music. It was a bit loud for the size of the place but still nice to get live entertainment in an area where it never existed.

We started with a Saki sour that was delicious, after that we moved on a beer taster. They hold many beers that are made in locally in Israel on tap: Dancing camel, Shapira and more.20141113_212523 All the beers were really good, from the IPA to the lagers. The rest of the alcohol menu is also great, from different bottled beers to cocktails.

The food menu at the restaurant is different than your regular menu because of the cuisine fusion. We ordered chili fries, sushi and hot wings. The hot wings where deep fried to perfection and coated with a sauce that was spicy, but in the right manner. When you feel the heat at the back of your throat and doesn’t burn your tongue so you can’t enjoy the rest of your meal. The sushi was very good. I liked the way he put a jalapeño chili on top of one of the rolls to really get the fusion vibe. The chili fries were different than just any fries. They are seasoned battered French fries, which by concept is a great idea. The chili topping was nice but a bit under seasoned and the fries turned into one big chunk of fries.

20141113_221256For the mains we ordered many different items: Steak salad that was cooked to a perfect medium rare; Chicken salad that was seasoned nicely. The tortilla chips were a very nice addition to make the salad crunchy.  The burritos are made from premium cuts of beef and wrapped nicely with rice and beans. I personally ordered a burger done medium and a beef hot dog.  The hamburger I ordered wasn’t the greatest, it was well done which dried out the20141113_220941 hamburger. On the other hand the hot dog was on point. Covered with pico de gallo and sauerkraut it was the highlight of my night. The service was a bit slow but they were swamped that night.

The Bodega is a one of a kind concept that fits the Gush Etzion crowd. Live music, good food, what else do you need to enjoy a great night out?!

The Burrito King is not King

20150101_220525 (1)For a long time there has not been a Mexican restaurant in Jerusalem. For those who remember, there was a place called Amigo’s on Yoel Moshe Salomon st. that closed down about 15 years ago. The reason it shut down was because the Israeli crowd is not familiar with the Mexican flavors or cuisine. Which is weird because, Sefardic cooking and Mexican cooking have almost identical flavor profiles. Coriander, cumin, chili peppers and so on. So it really doesn’t make sense why Mexican cuisine never caught on. I feel that the reason it never caught on is because back then, people where afraid to try different cuisines. Asian, Mexican and even American cuisines have only caught on in the past 10 years around Israel. The reason for this is because of TV shows, more people travelling the world and also a demand for something different.

20150101_220514 (1)As you can imagine, I was very excited to hear that someone opened up a kosher Mexican restaurant in Jerusalem (I mean Mike’s place serves Mexican dishes, but it’s not a Mexican restaurant, or the Bodega in Efrat). I went to the Burrito King on a Thursday night with my good friend Mitch and went to Emek Refaim street where it’s located. Upon entering the place it really represents Mexico at it’s finest. The colors of the place are the colors of the flag and the menu is printed on the wall. I asked the manager what was good on the menu, and he ordered for us a chili con carne burrito, a chicken fajita, chili fries and the beer was half off so we also got two beers.

Sadly, the cook doesn’t understand how to cook Mexican food. There was no Mexican flavors in the food we ordered. The heat source of dishes came from black pepper and not jalapeno peppers, the chili tasted more like a bolognese sauce with beans and not like chili, and the fajita was just very messy, the burrito was mushy. A burrito is supposed to be like a shwarma, firm and able to hold not mushy. The flavors weren’t bad it just didn’t taste like Mexican food. The prices are reasonable and affordable, but if you are looking for an authentic Mexican meal, you’ll have to wait a little longer.

It’s such a shame because all they need to do is swap out a couple of ingredients, do a better presentation and they really can be on the path to success.