There has never been a more exciting time to dine out in Israel. From hole in the wall restaurants like Rachmo, which has been serving Kurdish kubbeh soup in Jerusalem since the 1930s, to restaurants like Dok, which are exploring what modern Israeli cooking can be, there are options for every type of diner. We’ve gathered not only our most beloved spots in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but places we believe embody the Jewish Food Society’s mission to preserve, celebrate, and reinvigorate Jewish food. B’tayavon.
Anna: Moshiko Gamlieli’s kosher restaurant is situated on the top floor of what was once artist Anna Ticho’s home in a serene space. Gamlieli brings together Italian recipes and Israeli ingredients in dishes like zucchini finished with locally made goat cheese, oregano, and chili. As The New York Times pointed out recently, don’t skip the cloudlike ricotta gnocchi. [Kosher] HaRav Agan St. 10
Ofaimme: Tucked into the Beit Hansen art center, is this bohemian cafe and artisanal food shop that sells products made on the owner’s sustainable farm in the Negev. Stop in for a hearty Israeli breakfast of omelettes, those cheeses, and fresh salads, or to pick up some edible souvenirs (we love the dates) to take home. Gdalyahu Alon St. 14
Machneyuda: Named for the city’s central market, this restaurant is at the cutting edge of modern Israeli cooking. Co-owners Assaf Granit and Uri Navon now operate restaurants in London and Paris, but the original is still worth seeking out. Dinner here doubles as a party, so be prepared for a festive atmosphere (note: it can get loud later on in the evenings). Reservations, which can be made online, are a must. If all of the tables are booked, walk across the street to the popular Yudale, a bar by the same team, for a glass of wine and lighter fare. Beit Ya'akov St. 10
Mona: Located in a historic house from 1906, originally built for Bezalel Academy of Art, this is our favorite place for a date night in Jerusalem. Moshiko Gamlieli, who is also the chef at the kosher Italian restaurant Anna, cooks Israeli food here, but with French influences. Try the hanger steak with roasted broccolini or sea bass with beurre blanc, and finish the meal with a Valrhona chocolate tart served with marzipan ice cream and honeycomb. Shmu'el ha-Nagid St. 12
Machaneh Yehudah Market
At the heart of Jerusalem’s food culture is this lively market or shuk, which has seen a renaissance in the past decade. Amid newer additions like BeerBazaar and Hachapuria, are classics that have sustained Jerusalemites since the 1930’s. It is hard to go wrong in the shuk, but these are a few of our most beloved spots. Note: Most of the shops in the shuk are kosher.
Hachapuria: The lively team here specializes in the decadent Georgian savory pastry hachapuri, dough that’s filled with salty cheese and often topped with an egg. Order one to share. HaShikma St. 5
Rachmo: A staple of Jerusalem since the 1930’s, Rachmo serves Israeli and mizrachi comfort dishes like hummus, kubbeh, and schnitzel. HaEshkol St. 5
Aricha: This small restaurant where orders are placed at the counter specializes in one thing: Sabich, a sandwich with Iraqi roots that stuffs eggplant, hummus, salads, an egg, and a pickled mango sauce called amba into a fresh pita. Whether you are new to sabich, or a connoisseur, this is the place to try it. Agripas St. 83
BeerBazaar: This shop is home to 100 craft beers from microbreweries across Israel. Stop in for a pint or simply a small taste of what Israeli brewers are doing with barley and hops. Etz Hayyim St. 3
Shmule: This casual restaurant near the shuk specializes in home-style, slow-cooked stews and kubbeh, a kurdish Jewish soup made with meatballs wrapped in bulgar that are plunged into a tangy broth. It is the perfect dish to fight a touch of winter’s chill. Don’t miss Shmule’s stuffed grape leaves, rice & beans, and sofrito. Agripas St. 34
Ishtabach: Known for its signature meat-stuffed pastry shamburak, this casual Syrian restaurant is perennially busy with locals. HaShikma St. 1
Morris: Morris is actually two places in the shuk, a lunch spot sandwiched between two butchers and a sit down restaurant on the outskirts of the market, which is a little more formal. Grilled meat (Israeli BBQ) and salatim is the specialty of the house. Corner of HaCharuv and HaTut Streets; Agripas St. 70
Just Outside of Town…
On your way into or out of Jerusalem, adventurous food lovers shouldn’t miss Majda, a restaurant featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Jerusalem episode. Co-owned by a Palestinian husband and Israeli wife, this spot has an excellent local wine list and dishes made with herbs that are grown in the restaurant’s garden. After your meal, stop in nearby Abu Ghosh at Al Yasmin, a shop that is selling some of the best tahini in Israel. Take a jar or some halva home with you. Majda: Ein Rafah, note this restaurant is off the beaten path, exit route 1 at route 3975; Al Yasmin: 84 Hashalom St., Abu Ghosh
Dok: Nearly everything that appears on the tables at this intimate restaurant is made with ingredients grown or harvested in Israel, from the botanicals used to make gin cocktails, to the lightly cured fish, and exceptional cheese course. The menu changes regularly, so it’s best for adventurous diners. Reservations are also recommended as the restaurant is tiny and very popular. Ibn Gabirol St. 8
The Carlton Hotel: Acclaimed Israeli chef Meir Adoni, who recently opened Nur in New York City offers something for everyone at this hotel that’s just a five minute walk from the conference. Blue Sky caters to those looking for dairy or fish and a view of the city’s skyline, while Lumina focuses on kosher meats that are served with the sea in view. Eliezer Peri St. 10
Yaffo Tel-Aviv: Named one of the 10 best restaurants in Israel by Haaretz, the upscale Yaffo Tel-Aviv is the work of Israeli celebrity chef Haim Cohen. Using a grill and a taboon (a clay oven) Cohen turns out dishes like lamb ribs and a whole seabass with white wine and tomatoes. Yigal Alon St 98
To Market, To Market...
Shuk HaNamal: Just shy of a decade ago, a farmers market sprouted in Tel Aviv’s port. Amid the fruit and vegetable stalls are places to grab a bite. Stop at Sherry Herring for herring on a buttered baguette and chase it with fresh fruit juice from a nearby kiosk. If the weather’s nice, take your snack outside or down to the beach. Nemal Tel Aviv St. 12
Shuk Levinksy: This market, made up of cafes, spice shops, and delis, lines Levinsky street in Tel Aviv’s hip Florentin neighborhood. Wander down the road (and on to the side streets) for a series of snacks or to pick up some treats for home.
A Quick Lunch...
Falafel HaKosem: At first glance, you might mistake this quick-service restaurant as just another falafel shop. But, look closer and you will see diners enjoying spicy Moroccan fish, cooked in a piquant tomato sauce, fresh from the frier falafel balls, and chicken livers with onions, tucked into pillowy pitas. HaKosem is ideal for a fast bite. [Kosher] Shlomo HaMelech 1
Miznon: Celebrated Israeli chef Eyal Shani now operates outlets of this popular street food spot in Paris, New York, and Vienna. But, there is a unique charm to visiting Miznon in its birthplace. Freshly grilled kebabs, steaks, and chicken livers are sandwiched inside pitas, and the whole heads of roasted cauliflower shouldn’t be overlooked. Shlomo Ibn Gabirol St. 23; King George St. 30
Azura: One of Jerusalem’s most beloved restaurants made its Tel Aviv debut three years ago and brought with it exceptional hummus, stuffed eggplant, and a Jerusalem sofrito made from slow cooked beef with potatoes. For a cold day, opt for a bowl of kubbeh, Iraqi dumplings, in a beet or lemon-infused broth called hamusta. Mikveh Israel St. 1
For Something Sweet...
Lehamim Bakery: One of Israel’s best bakeries, Lehamim is always bustling, with the staff putting out new, freshly baked treats like borekas and chocolate rugelach throughout the day. The large seating area in the back is a welcome respite for those walking through Tel Aviv. HaHashmonaim St. 103
Buza: If you haven’t sufficiently satisfied your sweet tooth at Lehamim, walk down the block to Buza, which makes the best gelato in Israel. You will remember the chocolate sorbet and pistachio long after you finish your cone. HaHashmonaim St 91