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Nov 17, 2007 05:32 AM

the best food in Israel?

We are going to be traveling to Israel in February for a few weeks, and we haven't been there in 17 years. We are looking to eat at the best restaurants and the best felafel stands. We are interested to experience a uniquely Israeli take on the food of the region rather than eating the best Italian, French, sushi, etc. that Israel has to offer. What do you suggest? I saw Elyse Goldstein's food tour of Israel mentioned on this site, but we will be traveling with a local group from Boston- with opportunities to eat a few meals on our own in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Eilat. Any and all suggestions will be appreciated.

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  1. The most satisfying and tastiest food I've had in Israel has been from the small falafel and shawarma stands that you find - and it's all so reasonably priced.

    My best advise for eating in Israel is to avoid the touristy locations - seek out where the locals eat (your Israeli guide or the tour bus driver is usually a good one) by asking them - where do you go to eat not where should I go. Typical Israeli choice would be salads and grilled meats.

    For falafel look for stands with a variety of salads and turnover. And don't forget the bakeries with fresh bourekas, pitas and pastries.

    Depending on your mobility in an industrial part of Natanya is Jacko - a top notch fish restaurant that's been around forever that serves a delicious array of salads & fish -not cheap but worth the trip if you like fish especially grilled. They may have other locations but Natanya is the one to go to.

    In Jerusalem I would avoid the food in Mahane Yehuda - tourist quality, tourist prices.

    In Eilat the most delicious meal I had was after asking my desert Jeep excursion guide where he ate and he took me to a restaurant (once again in an industrial area - do we see a theme here?) with a variety of salads and grilled meats. Sorry don't remember the name but boy was that a good meal.

    Enjoy Israel - it is simply a fantastic place to visit and chow - and let us know how it turns out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pizza Lover

      Pizza Lover, did you mean Ben-Yehuda instead of Machaneh Yehuda? Machane Yehuda is where Jerusalemites (including this one) go to buy fresh food of all sorts. It isn't a restaurant; mostly stands, small stores, and bakeries. Ben Yehuda is the pedestrian mall where all the tourists go. I keep my distance from there.

      I live near the Talpiot Industrial zone and do not have to walk far to find excellent grilled meat and hummus. Thee are several on Yad Harutzim. And I am also near a burekas factory. Tourists don't frequent my area. There are also a number of very good grilled meat places on Agrippas. This used to be a poor neighborhood but now it is near a popular place to live and the meateries do have tour groups come through (generally for lunch). Locals still go to the restaurants.

      1. re: Pizza Lover

        With Jacko, the further you go from home base, the worse it gets. Home is on Kehillat Saloniki , north(/) of Kikar Paris in Haifa. It is excellent and cheap. (Always go to the business lunch- everywhere.) Also very good is the branch on Moriah St on the Carmel. Excellent (heimish, if you came from Turkey) salads, fish and surprisingly good desserts. Netanya is so-so.
        Look out (as in beware ) for a lot of the places where where the locals eat. There is a lot of bad Ashkenazi and Mughrabi cooking. Its like going to London and eating working class.

      2. I haven't been there in a long time, but for a lovely meal check out "Dag al haDan", which translates to "Fish on the Dan (River)" It's waaaaay up north, north of Kiryat Shemona. A fish restaurant in a beautiful setting. It's worth going up north anyway.... very different experience than the central Tel Aviv/Jerusalem experience most tourists get!

        I also have to mention a tiny little mountain town called Peki'in, where you can watch Iraqi-style pita made and immediately stuffed with Labeneh, a wonderful sour white cheese, and za'atar, a terrific middle-eastern spice. You want authentic, off the tourist path food, this is it! Again, in a beautiful setting.

        Have a wonderful trip!

        1 Reply
        1. re: mamamk

          Unfortunately, we are not going to go north of Tel Aviv on this visit. Those restaurants sound good. We will be in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Eilat with a few stops in between.

        2. Tel Aviv
          Raphael in the dan hotel
          Okinawa (best sushi)
          mul yam
          coffee bar


          1. Hi Veggielover,

            I guess what you are looking for is to get a taste of some or most of those local goodies:

            Hummus +Foul

            I'd love to try and lead a group of (overseas) foodies to Israel's "Taste of the best", (at least for my own taste buds). I know some of the best places, and hope I’m available (after 20th Feb).

            Only issues are how many are you, how long can you allow for such a tour. We'll have to manage our tour very carefully, with the (hopefully) help of all restaurants /food stalls/ holes in the wall Etc as most of the dishes in this list are very fulfilling, and if you'd wish to taste a lot, a quarter portion of each should suffice…

            Let me know how this sounds?

            1. There are a number of excellent restaurants in Israel. Bruno in Tel Aviv is fantastic. It is located in the Azrieli Center, an archiecturally stunning office/ shopping complex. Orna and Ella on Rehov Sheinkin is a young, happening cafe serving light meals all day and more substantial dinners. Orca in Tel Aviv is sensational and Lilith, near Rehov Sheinkin is dairy/vegetarian and also outstanding. Enjoy!

              2 Replies
              1. re: rifbat

                Orna rocks! Get the Sweet potato pancakes or the everything salad( salat ha kol)
                I love Tapeo in Telaviv, a tapas bar but so good although you are prob looking for Israeli food

                1. re: savvy savorer

                  We are looking for Israeli food or Israeli influenced food. I have heard Orna mentioned before. Thanks for the suggestion.