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Jul 7, 2009 07:46 AM

Jerusalem Must Eats

We're making our first trip to Israel and will be based in Jerusalem at the Inbal. What were your favorite places? From falafel to fine dine...I'd love to know the places that shouldn't be missed. Thank you!

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  1. I don't know if it's a MUST or anything but I just had a wonderful meal of salads and fresh pastas - including a really special dumpling with prune compote - at Shmil, which is in the "Lab" complex between Talpiyot and Emek Refayim near the old train station. I tried one of the raviolis and the spaetzle, which was very very good.

    1. Congrats on your first trip to Israel! I live not far from the Inbal. Please keep in mind that I am not rich, so I don't have a clue about fine dining.

      Hummus Talpiot (Yad Harutzim) -- Think homemade hummus with toppings. There is also schnitzel, kubbeh soups, etc. Totally non-touristy.
      Steakiyat Tzidkiyahu (Yad harutzim) -- Grilled meat in a skewer. Meal comes with ten different salads.
      Talpiyot is known for its Steakiyot, so there are plenty of meat restaurants around, and after 6:00 PM the air smells like a BBQ. I like Tzidkiyahu the best. Also lots of steakiyot around Machaneh Yehuda (aka shuk)
      HaShamen (several locations) for shwarma.
      Mordoch (Israeli) and Ichikidana (Indian) (both in Machaneh Yehuda).
      Ima's (agripas) -- Sephardi/mizrachi food. Excellent soup and chicken liver.
      Babette's (Shamai) for waffles.
      Burekas Ima (Rivka) for burekas.
      Ticho House (Rav Kook) -- very nice dairy restaurant with beautiful garden.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JudgeMaven

        Thank you so much! We'd really prefer to have ethnic food that we just can't get in Philly. We can always go to a fine dine or Italian restaurant here...but we can't get amazing falafel! I've never had shwarma or burekas or Iraqi food. So those are the kinds of things we are most interested in. We're very excited about finally being able to go to Israel.

      2. In the Machena Yehuda try to have a meal at Azure in the Iraqi market (side section of the shuk furthest side away from the Old City). Excellent kube soup and other mixes of Ashkenazi and Sephardi food.

        In East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Hotel restaurant is a really great eating experience. if you don't keep kosher and are looking for something to do on a Friday night, try to get reservations because they have live music and it's a lot of fun. Also by Damascus Gate on the weekends, the street vendors have amazing kebabs.

        Walking away from the Old City on Jaffa is also an Ethiopian restaurant that I'm a big fan of.

        10 Replies
        1. re: cresyd

          Thank you...I've added those suggestions to my list. Just a question re "street food" in Jerusalem. In some cities you'd want to avoid this for health it a problem in Jerusalem? I really love kebabs, etc. Thank you!

          1. re: DaisyM

            Personally, I've never had any trouble with the street kebabs - and in some cases I like them more than the kebabs in restaurants because they're so fresh. The kebab carts outside of Damascus Gate are across the street and only open on Friday/Saturday. But there are some restaurants also outside of Damascus gate where you can get kebabs to go that are also good.

            I would vouch for the safety of the kebabs - and I'm someone who despite living there for over a year still can't consistently drink the tap water. There are some other varieties of street food, ful and another kind of legume, and some other stuff that I haven't tried though.

            1. re: cresyd

              Thank you for telling me this.

              1. re: cresyd

                I have no problem the tap water, but my intestines are probably calcified. Daisy, when are you planning on visiting? If you are coming during the summer you must drink and drink a lot! Plan to buy bottled water. Your stomach will give you issues if you drink the tap water. Israelis love coffee drinks, and those are fine but they do not hydrate you. There are various juice stands around Jerusalem.

                Another popular street food, and you will see this in the Old City, is the Jerusalem bagel. It is a really large bagel-like thing that is really good and comes with a small bag of zaatar for dipping.

              2. re: DaisyM

                As this is the summer I must warn you about exposed hummus. Hummus dries up VERY quickly, so if you go to stand or restaurant make sure the hummus is not turning brown or drying up. I wouldn't even touch hummus from an unair-conditioned place. For the hummus place I recommended, if you do order any, eat it inside or share one plate with your traveling partner (you mentioned a "we"). Also, for falafel places, try not to gt the last four falafel balls in a pan or the last few fries.

                1. re: JudgeMaven

                  Judge Maven, thank you for giving such good advice. We are going at the end of next May. My husband is a gastroenterologist so he's particuarly cautious with the food and water when we're traveling. We'll make sure to drink lots of bottled water. I'm so looking forward to having "real" falafel and trying dishes that we just don't have here. But most of all....we're so excited about being in Israel.

                  1. re: DaisyM

                    If you're going at the end of May, you might want to ask around if the Jerusalem Wine Tasting festival is happening when you'll be there (different from the Israeli Wine Tasting festival). I don't remember for sure if it's in May or June, but it's a pretty fun way to experience different wines from around the Jerusalem area.

                    1. re: DaisyM

                      As I have Crohn's Disease, I'm generally the first person to get GI distress from any odd ingestible. I've never had a problem with the water there. In the (rented) apartment and restaurants I drink tap water with no ill effects. Out and about in the summer I either buy bottles of limonana or assorted Prigat beverages or fill up water bottles and carry with me. By all means, in the summer drink all you can and then drink some more.

                        1. re: DaisyM

                          Had several good meals there last month. The issue is finding someplace on Shabbat. Open restaurants that w e enjoyed were Joy & Colony in the German Colony and Chakara.

              3. Adom, Terra, and Zuni are three good, non-kosher options that will be open on shabbat. More upscale. All three are in the main restaurant district.

                One piece of advice I give to all first time visitors to the old city is to enter via the Damascus Gate, rather than the more usual tourist route through the Jaffa Gate. The Damascus Gate entrance is far more dramatic, and will immediately plunge you into the frenetic world of the Arab shuk (including all the street food places mentioned earlier), while through Jaffa Gate you will simply run the gauntlet of tacky souvenir shops. If you have a guide, insist that he take you through the Damascus Gate.

                Not too far from the entrance, take a right up the via dolorosa to get to Hummus Lina, which I am constantly plugging as the best hummus in Jerusalem. Close by, at the foot of the stairs of the coptic church (part of the holy sepulchre complex) there is a bakery without any sign that serves a delicious pastry that sounds something like "babta". The place is rather dark and uninviting, but go in anyway and try one. One of the old city culinary adventures.

                7 Replies
                1. re: MarkC

                  Thanks so much. I have heard of Hummus Lina. Just a security an issue in the section where it is located?

                  1. re: DaisyM

                    Not in the slightest. I go there all the time. It is a real pleasure, and it is a shame to be afraid. The people are very friendly and hospitable. They are all just shopowners trying to make a living. It is very full of tourists, so you will not be alone.

                    1. re: MarkC

                      PS Hummus Lina is on the Via Dolorosa - the route that Jesus took as he carried the cross to Calvary, according to tradition. So you will be pretty much in the middle of the tourist area.

                      1. re: MarkC

                        Thanks so much. Since we've never been to Israel before we really don't know the various areas. Thank you.

                  2. re: MarkC

                    Hi Everyone,
                    Just arrived tonight and looking forward to starting our culinary adventure tomorrow. Complete and utter novices. Staying in private apartment walking distance to the ? mall and the old city which I believe is a great location. Need restaurants hopefully in walking distance, mid range happy to try non touristy authentic places which might specialise in whatever the specialties may be. Hear that we must try falafel, and hommus and shwarma but not quite sure what all these may be. ANY SUGGESTION WOULD BE GREAT!

                    In anticipation,


                    1. re: midgee

                      If you are still here, you should eat in Rachmo on Yoel Solomon St for the most authentic Iraqi-Israeli homecooking. Eat your way thru the Jewish market, Machane Yehuda. And though, it may not seem exotic, upscale German colony drag has one coffee shop after another. You may also like to take a look at which has a list of all kosher restaurants in Israel .

                      PS Don't miss bourekas and rougalech in the market at Marzipan

                      1. re: buffy1

                        I enjoyed Azura in Mahane Yehuda market with tasty stuffed vegetables, hummus and kubba (Middle Eastern dumplings).
                        A lively, more modern place is Mahneyehuda restaurant which serves up a variety of Italian and European influenced dishes. It is located on Beit Yaakov 10, Jerusalem