Cheap Eats 2011: Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem may be a place of contested loyalties, but the scene is more peaceable at this strip-mall hole in the wall, where talk of politics takes a back seat to talk of basboosas. A sticky confection made with semolina and flavored with coconut, these cakes are on gorgeous display up front along with baklava and an array of other sweets. The desserts act as both temptation and guide: Regulars know to plan their meal around them.

They also know to begin with the superb veggie combo platter, a mini-smorgasboard that includes fine renditions of baba ghanoush, hummus, tabbouleh, and foul (fava beans). It’s a good primer for the zesty, garlicky flavors that abound: an excellent harira, the Moroccan tomato soup; a variation of fetoosh topped with lightly fried pita bread; chicken shawarma; or the hearty lamb-and-rice dish called makluba (ask for a cup of harissa–its spice and vinegar will enhance the flavor of the lamb).

Also good: Kibbeh (fried meat patties) with rice; kinafa, a crunchy, vermicelli-based pastry; baklava.

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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