While Zahav sets the bar for imaginative, modern Israeli food, Israeli eats in our city are otherwise relegated to a handful of paltry pita parlors. But head out to Judah Mediterranean Grill, situated in a vast shopping center on Krewstown Road, and all of a sudden a world of Middle Eastern options opens (... Sesame?)
This glatt-kosher spot (note the hand-washing station in the back) adheres to the strict rules of kashrut — no cheese on those burgers, Turkish coffee comes with soy milk and desserts are nondairy.
Judah’s kitchen does wonders with vegetables, grains and kosher meats. Let’s start with the standards: Hummus is impossibly creamy and shakshuka, a dish of eggs slowly poached in tomato sauces, gets a welcome bit of heat from green chiles.
A deli case houses a rainbow of salads that can be ordered as starters. Choose from babaganoush, Israeli salad or purple cabbage, or go for one of the Moroccan salads with carrots, eggplant or matbucha (a roasted tomato-and-pepper salad with garlic and chiles).
Sandwiches of pillowy pita or chewy laffa are filled with standards like falafel, shwarma and schnitzel, or there’s sabich, a do-it-yourself sandwich of hummus, thinly sliced, batter-fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs that is traditionally eaten on Saturday mornings. (Think of it as the Israeli version of eggplant Parm.)
Although the menu bears the very serious-looking glatt-kosher seal of approval, the mood at Judah is convivial and lively. A six-top of Russian “ladies who lunch” sipped bottles of BYO moscato on a recent Monday, and a Philadelphia Police chaplain wearing a yarmulke stopped in to chat with the owners and pick up lunch to go.
Judah Mediterranean Grill | 9311 Krewstown Road, 215-613-6110, judahgrill.com. Hours: Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-one hour before sundown; Sat., closed. Appetizers and sides: $3.95 - $11.95, sandwiches and burgers: $6.95 - $15.95, entrees: $17.95 - $32.
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