Ramle is a working class town in central Israel, populated by a mixture of Jews, Ethiopians, Karachis, Russians and Arabs. Although conditions are improving, Ramle continues to stuggle against poverty, high crime rate and the dust storms for which the town is named. Despite its stigma, Ramle’s has a prestigious history and was an important economic and cultural capital of the area during ancient times. It was founded by Umayyad caliph Suleiman Ibn Abed Al-Malik, in the year 716 AD. Remnants can still be seen of this era.
Today the heart of the city is not the palaces and mosques of the past, but the outdoor market. It is here that the vibrant diversity of the town can be experienced as well as tasted.
Although Ramle Shuk is much smaller than those in Jerusalem, Haifa or Tel Aviv, it contains an amazing variety of fabulous street foods within walking distance from one another. If you are looking for culinary diversity but are short on time, Ramle shuk is an ideal place to visit. Just come with a big appetite.
Tunisian Sandwich: There are three different Tunisian sandwich places at the shuk, all close to each other, but Eli’s is the most famous. With back to back competition the sandwiches are wonderful, especially with the traditional fried fricassee bun.
Eli’s Tunisian Sandwich Shop
Sderot Ester HaMalcha , Ramle (near the entrance to the shuk from Herzel Road)
Sambusak: In the shuk there is a vendor selling Iraqi style spiced chickpea filled sambusak. It is best to eat it while it is still sizzling hot.
Location: The middle of the shuk
Turkish Bourekas are made with crisp, flaky phyllo dough and filled with cheese or potato. You can eat them plain or stuffed with a sliced hard boiled egg and hot sauce.
Original Turkish Bourekas
Ethnic Breads: Pick up a variety of breads from the bakery stall, from zaatar sticks to Buharian bread. Located in the shuk. Kosher.
Falafel Jackie was established in 1948 and continues to be the favorite falafel stand in the area. When school is out for the day, there is always a line of hungry children waiting there.
Halil’s Hummus is a proper sit down restaurant and it prepares some of the best hummus and masabacha in the country.
Kehelat Detroit 6, Ramle (the road that runs parallel to the shuk)
Not Certified Kosher (open on Shabbat)
Knafe- A few stores after Halil’s restaurant is a little store called Shaheen’s Sweets selling baklava from Nazareth as well as homemade knafe, a classic Arabic dessert.
Kehelat Detroit 2, Ramle
Indian sweets are sold at Maharaja, an Indian specialty store. There is a large population of Karachis in Ramle and this store provides them with traditional Indian spices and goods.
Herzl 87, Ramle (opposite the park near the shuk)
Shabkia (Zoolbia) is an Iraqi deep fried sweet coated in sugar syrup or honey. It is sold adjacent to the sambusak vendor in the shuk.
If you are thirsty from all the food, there are plenty of refreshing options. Stands sell everything from lemonade, pomegranate juice, orange/carrot juice and even sugarcane juice. It is also possible to buy leben, a yogurt drink popular in the Balkans. It’s sold at the Turkish bourekas stand.
Places of Interest:
If you have a few hours in the city there are several places worth visiting.
The white tower was built in 13th century close to where the White Mosque used to stand. It is 30 meters high and it was probably used as a watch tower as well as a minaret to call Muslims to pray five times a day.
The Pool of Arches, also called St. Helen’s Pool, is an underground cistern which was used to provide the city of Ramle with water. It was built during the reign caliph Haroun al-Rashid in 789 AD.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:00-14:30
Friday and Eve of Holidays: 8:00-14:00
Shabbat and Holidays: 8:00-16:00