Israeli-Turkish Grub at Hamifgash (it’s ok if you can’t pronounce it)

The pictures on the walls of Hamifgash caught my eye as I walked by recently, with promises of both Israeli and Turkish food and some intense giant pictures of shwarma. Unfortunately for me, it was Shabbot and the kosher restaurant was closed. I vowed to return on a less holy day.  On my return trip, the waitress, who must have also been an owner, told me she was Israeli, while her husband is Turkish- explaining how the combo restaurant came about a few years ago.  The menu leans more towards the Israeli influence, though  the main courses of grilled meats are typical to Middle Eastern cuisine in general. A few Turkish appetizers are squeezed in there, but I wish there were more. I was hugely disappointed when I found out they no longer sell lahmacun (Turkish meat pizza). The waitress explained there was just no real customer interest. That is a real shame- so I urge all Philly lunchers to get down to Hamifgash and request for lahmacun- dough, meat, spices, what is not to like about that? Great lunching potential that we are missing out on.

But on to the food they do serve…

The Baba Ghannouj cold appetizer was a great start. It was perfectly creamy, with just a dash of lemon and garlic. Sometimes I find that baba can be made too smokey, that is not how I like it. There was no smokiness in Hamifgash’s baba. Go Team Baba Ghannouj!

To sample the Turkish dishes, I tried the cigarette bocreks and the imam bayildi. Imam bayildi from Hamifgash. Pronounce that sentence correctly and I will be impressed with you. Anyway, this is a roasted eggplant dish stuffed with onion, green peppers, and tomato- supposedly there were pine nuts in there but I didn’t get any, would have been nice though… Also, be prepared, this is one of their cold apps. For $7 it was a bit too small of a portion, but it makes a nice cooling and healthy start to a meal in the warm weather.

The cigarette bocreks are 4 fried tubes stuffed with meat and onion. Again, I enjoyed them but they end up being over a dollar per bocrek, and that is mighty price for a little bocrek.

I also ordered what was listed as “kibbosh” on the menu, but I am more familiar with them being called kibbe- either way, I recommend these meat/onion filled dough spheres over the cigarette bocreks, they seem more substantial (they come with 3) and I enjoyed their thick shell more than the phyllo of the bocreks.  I took a gander at the borekas, and they looked worth trying on another visit.

I chose the Hamifgash kabob in pita ($7) for my main course. I was told the pita is made in house; it came out hot with perfect grill marks and just the right fluffiness. The sandwich is stuffed with lettuce, tomato, hummus, and the grilled ground lamb. I liked the way the lamb was spiced, but I was a little nervous about it looking undercooked in the middle.

Though over the $10 mark, it would be wrong not to mention my Turkish lunching partner’s beef kabob platter. For $12 he got a nice sized serving of supple beef chunks (I think it was skirt steak) over rice with a bit of salad. I don’t know how much of that beef gets put into the pita version, but that might be the lunch dish to get, the steak was impressive.

Hamifgash also offers a weekday lunch special for $12 with an entree special of the day and a soup. In their defense, while the appetizers were pricier than I liked – maintaining  a kosher establishment can add a lot to to the overall costs of running a restaurant.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Excellent homemade staples, including the pita and baba ghannouj
  • The restaurant is glatt kosher and has many vegetarian options
  • I like a choice between Turkish and Israeli food
  • The steak kebab meat is delicious

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Some of the appetizers are a little pricey for the size
  • Pink ground meat makes me really nervous

Hamifgash, 811 Sansom St. (@ 8th St.), 215-925-3550



  • mmmmmm…. fried meat filled spheres

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    When the signs first went up, I couldn’t wait for this place to open. In fact, the first time I went in it turned out they were just testing the “open” sign out. It was still being built up inside.

    When they finally opened, a couple of coworkers and I went in. I couldn’t tell you what I had now. It was much better than it looked, I recall. I figured presentation would come later, no big deal.

    Upon settling up after my meal, the woman at the cash register rang up my entree, my drink, my two coworkers drinks (and not entrees) and some strangers drinks and entrees. When my bill came to $30+ for my $8 entree and a drink, I told her there’s obviously been some mistake. She got _pissed_ and insisted that I was the one who was wrong. She called some guy out of the kitchen and blurts out “he doesn’t want to pay,” which of course angered him. I explained to him what I had, and that it should have been about $10-11, which he agreed with. She got all huffy and threw my change at me.

    I work a block away, and would have gone at least once a week. Instead, there’s no chance I’ll ever go back.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I had exactly the same problem! They ended up overcharging me by several dollars (I ordered a schawarma and they gave me a schawarma but called it a “platter” once I protested their theft of a few dollars… it was small and not very good).

    They definitely try to take your money. I wonder if they are taking a cue from all the jewelry stores in the area!

    I will not be going back, because they clearly have a habit of stealing.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Oh wow, that’s too bad. I was hoping the 2010 incident was a one-off. I got to St. George’s too late for the hot food a couple of weeks ago (scored a spinach pie though!) and was considering stopping here, but thought I remembered the previous post and I was right. REALLY glad I didn’t go in now!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Maybe the owners have changed by now, I’ve never had a problem. Love the soups.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.