5 mouth-watering places to eat shakshouka
Move over eggs Benedict; shakshouka is the new star of brunch.
Shakshouka, eggs baked in a savory tomato stew, has long been a popular dish in Israel. A satisfying dish any time of day, it's lately been appearing on brunch menus around the world.
The “traditional” shakshouka – considered the unofficial national breakfast of Israel – is made by sautéing onion, garlic, sweet paprika and tomatoes to make a simple sauce, and then placing raw eggs and covering until the eggs are perfectly poached.
At these five restaurants, chefs from San Francisco to Prague have taken the basic shakshouka recipe and made it their own, adding green tomatillos, house-made sausage or eggplant to come up with original mouthwatering variations.
Shakewell / Oakland
If the San Francisco Bay Area does one thing really, really well, it’s brunch. Top spots will have an hour-long line out the door from before they even open until well into the afternoon. Among all the places you’ll want to elbow your way into is Oakland’s Shakewell: both SFist and SF Station have named it one of the best spots for brunch. The restaurant is owned by "Top Chef" alums Jen Biesty and Tim Nugent, and offers an ever-changing blend of Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. Alongside innovative dishes like poached eggs served with falafel cake and Spanish chorizo and Barbacoa with eggs, tostados and black beans, you’ll find their shakshouka with roasted peppers, chickpeas and feta.
“The U.S. has been embracing shakshouka with open arms. I have always been a fan of the one-pot dish and this one has a following. We have customers that crave it so we have made it a staple on the Shakewell brunch menu,” Biesty told From the Grapevine. “Plus, it is fun to say shakshouka! The name fits the dish perfectly for how it makes you feel when you eat it: warm, soothed, satiated with a little spice and rich egg yolk, all on a hunk of crusty bread, oh so delicious!"
Grandma’s / Sydney
Grandma’s is a collection of bakeries and cafes located in Australia, serving dishes inspired by the “traditional flavors and recipes” of six grandmas and grandpas, blending homestyle fare from Ireland and England, the Mediterranean and North Africa, Greece and Italy. Among this incredible plethora of cultures you’ll find Grandma’s signature shakshoukas, including open-fire eggplant shakshouka with Labneh cheese, beef shakshouka with tahini and fresh tomatoes, beef Bolognese shakshouka and spinach and feta shakshouka.
“The birth of the shakshouka on a matbucha base (tomatoes and capsicum sauce) came about when the fridge was opened and whatever was available got thrown in the pan,” Grandma's Dana Kvatinsky told From the Grapevine.
Honey & Co / London
Sarit Packer was the pastry chef at the renowned Ottolenghi and executive head chef at Nopi – both in London – before opening her own restaurant down the road with her husband, Itamar. Like Yotam Ottolenghi himself, Sarit and Itamar hail from Israel, and their restaurant Honey & Co serves a variety of staples inspired by the Mediterranean. At the top of the “Big Breakfast” menu are their signature shakshoukas: two Cornish farm eggs baked either in the traditional tomato sauce or in a green sauce of spinach and herbs. Traditional, yes, but with a pungent twist: Berlin-based animator Rachel Little tells us the Honey & Co tomato shakshouka has 12 cloves of garlic. Talk about heart healthy!
Maso a Kobliha / Prague
British-born chef and butcher Paul Day worked at two different Michelin-starred restaurants in London before finding his way to the Czech Republic. Not long after arriving, he met his future wife Michaela and decided to stay. Now they own two cutting-edge restaurants, Maso a Kobliha and Sansho, and their own butcher shop, The Real Meat Society, a whole-animal butchery offering meat strictly from pastured animals – no nitrates, gluten free, and dry aged organic and traceable meat. While his focus has always been on meat, he says he tries to highlight vegetables, and serves many that have been grown in his wife’s garden.
“Our shakshouka is inspired by (restaurants in) Tel Aviv and Berlin with a twist of Paul’s cooking techniques and flair. We make it strictly vegetarian but allow meat add-ons like house-made bacon and sausage, and it is served with our house toast,” said Michaela. Shakshouka is available on Maso a Kobliha’s weekend brunch menu, and occasionally as a weekday special.
Jack’s Wife Freda / New York City
No doubt there are plenty of places in New York City to get a good shakshouka, but we like Jack’s Wife Freda both for their green pepper and tomatillo shakshouka, and for the amazing love story behind the restaurant: The restaurant is owned by another husband-and-wife team, Dean and Maya Jankelowitz, hailing from South Africa and Israel, respectively, and named for Dean’s grandparents Freda and Jack.
And as for what green tomatillos can do for shakshouka, San Francisco-based writer and educator Amelia Whitcomb told us they “add a zesty tartness … giving it a bright invigorating freshness.”
Whitcomb found herself at Jack’s Wife Freda recently on her first trip to NYC in more than 20 years. “That shakshouka will always be synonymous with that trip and me falling in love with the city. The dish is the epitome of comfort: warm, gooey, tangy, and rich with runny egg yolks. I wanted to lick the bowl clean, and I very nearly did.”
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