Smoke Burger: The shuk's only mehadrin burger place - review

Matan Zizo's decision to get a mehadrin kashrut was mostly for his father, who only eats mehadrin.

 Smoke Burger (photo credit: NETANEL CHURGIN)
Smoke Burger
(photo credit: NETANEL CHURGIN)

Owner Matan Zizo can see the entire kitchen from a variety of angles via cameras from his office on the third floor above Smoke Burger in the Jerusalem shuk. He checks that all of the workers are wearing gloves and shows me the meat fresh for my burger being ground. He says he opened the restaurant in the shuk because, “I love food.”

The decision to get a mehadrin kashrut was mostly for his father, who only eats mehadrin. Matan comes from a family of butchers and knows his way around a cow.

By the time my foodie son and I come downstairs, the table is covered with almost everything on the menu. There are a few surprises. First, there is only plastic cutlery which makes cutting meat difficult. Matan opened Smoke Burger nine months ago, at the height of Covid, and said that so many customers asked for disposable cutlery, he decided to use it exclusively.

Plastic spoons and forks. (credit: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS)Plastic spoons and forks. (credit: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS)

The meal

Our meal started with delicious crispy fried chicken wings in panko, with two dipping sauces (NIS 49). The wings were cooked perfectly, and the coating was crunchy and delicious. This was probably the highlight of our meal.

Next, we tried the asado (NIS 68), a 350-gram pile of smoked, pulled beef topped with very good homemade chimchurri. But my son and I found it dry, and it had an unpleasant aftertaste, almost like an ashtray. I asked Matan to taste the dish, which he did, and immediately took it off the table.

“It was smoked about 20 minutes too long,” he said, returning with a small plate of fresh asado, which was not dry and much less smoky.

While I appreciated Matan’s efforts, the first asado should not have been served. Some of it, of course, is a matter of taste. As my good friend and scotch guru Laura Cornfield will tell you, I am not a fan of even slightly smoky Scotch, despite her efforts to expand my palate.

Matan says he wants the customer to be happy, and if a customer orders the smoked burger and is not happy with it, he will replace it with a regular burger.

The smoked burger (NIS 59 for a 250-gram burger) was good but not outstanding. The smoke was gentler here and the burger was fresh, but something was missing. There are gluten free buns available for an extra NIS 3.90.

We also tried the lamb breast (NIS 120), which was tasty but very fatty. Matan says he always tells customers that they should only order the dish if they like fatty meat.

All of the meat is imported from Argentina. If you order a meal, it comes with regular or sweet potato chips, made from frozen potatoes, as they are in most places. The sweet potato chips were especially good. They also have three beers on tap, including Pauliner, which I enjoyed with my dinner.

There is a special children’s menu, and seating both outside and inside.

The kashrut is mehadrin and Matan says that Smoke Burger is the only mehadrin burger place in the shuk. It is also available on 10 Bis and Wolt.

Smoke BurgerHa’armonim 3Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12 noon – midnightFriday: until 2 hours before ShabbatSaturday night: opens an hour after Shabbat endsKashrut: Mehadrin

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.