Hot dogs with a smile

Zalman serves a short but adequate menu in downtown Jerusalem.

August 28, 2019 13:43
2 minute read.
Hot dogs with a smile

Zalman. (photo credit: Courtesy)

I’m not sure who I like better – Zalman himself or his delicious hot dogs. Zalman, who everyone calls by his first name, has a perpetual grin on his face, and makes the hot dog experience not only delicious, but fun.

The restaurant on Luntz Street in downtown Jerusalem is right in the middle of the action. It seats 25, mostly outside, and the menu is short, but more than adequate.

The best seller is the Bavarian-style hot dog, (NIS 29) an all-beef hot dog that tastes like what it is – 100% real beef. It does not have the processed taste that many hot dogs in Israel seem to have. There are plenty of condiments – deli mustard, honey mustard, pickles, sauerkraut and onions. All are fresh and good. I am a hot dog purist so ate mine with only deli mustard and pickles. I finished every bite, as did my companion.

My one issue was the bun. It wasn’t quite the soft bun of my New York childhood but more like an Israeli roll. Zalman says he’s tried five different bakeries and he still wasn’t happy with the bun. He said anyone who has ideas on how he can get a bakery to make an American-style bun is welcome to contact him.

There is also a meat toast, a hot panini sandwich (NIS 29) with deli meat from nearby Hafetz Haim, which I can’t comment on as I didn’t taste it.

Alongside the hot dogs there are seasoned thin-cut fries (NIS 12) that, although from frozen potatoes, are really good. There is also “gazoz,” that iconic Israeli syrup that is added to seltzer, in four flavors: apple, pineapple, grape and passion fruit. Below the syrups is a tap to add seltzer or plain water. In one of the best bargains in Jerusalem, all-you-can-drink gazoz is only NIS 6.

There is also a “meal-deal” that includes chips and gazoz for an extra NIS 13, and a combo of two hot dogs, chips and gazoz for NIS 65.

Almost as good as the food is Zalman himself. He made aliyah in 2011, and for years he lived the quiet retiree life of studying Torah and playing with his grandchildren. But he loves hot dogs and he kept looking for a place that made one he liked.

When he couldn’t find one, the 74-year-old decided to open a restaurant himself. He tries to speak to every customer (some 300 per day), and clearly loves what he is doing and loves living in Jerusalem.

“Every day, I pinch myself to make sure that I’m really here, living in Jerusalem and doing this,” he says, as he tears up when speaking.

Zalman must be doing something right. The bright yellow restaurant is scouting for a second location in Jerusalem.

Zalman’s Chef Hot Dogs
Moshe Luntz 3
Hours: 11:30 – last customer leaves
Kashrut: All meat is Rubin hechsher
Restaurant is Rabbanut
Phone: 053-934-6358
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Related Content

September 19, 2019
El Al's Jerusalem-inspired Dreamliner aircraft arrives in Israel