Dining in the Negev
Thought I would update my own post with what we found on our trip to the Negev. We stayed at Chan HaShayarot, Bedouin tent lodging south of Sde Boker, the 1st night and ordered dinner there. It was excellent - a variety of Israeli salads including hummus, a whole roast chicken, some of the best roasted eggplant I've had in my life, ending with tea/coffee & baklava. There were 3 adults + 1 child and we could not finish the huge tray of food that they brought.
For lunch the next day we followed handpainted signs by the side of the road in Mitzpe Ramon. Just N. of the town on Rt. 40, following the sign for the Spice Quarter, we found a restaurant (sorry I can't remember the name, but there are plenty of signs) serving traditional, "home cooked," hot meals. A variety of very tasty chicken dishes to choose from served over rice (mine was chicken w/ mushrooms, my traveling companions got chicken w/ olives & raisins, the child got schnitzel, of course). We were very impressed, especially since we didn't have plans & were just hoping to find something quick & edible.
That night we had dinner at the Pundak Ramon (Ramon Inn). They have a pricey, all-you-can-eat meat buffet, which looked delicious, but we opted for ordering from the dairy menu. There are separate dining areas depending on meat or dairy. We had a standard "middle eastern platter" to share with falafel, hummus, veg. kibbe, etc., all good, though not not the best we'd ever had, and excellent onion soup. Again, our expectations were surpassed, not having high expectations for a hotel meal.
We stayed at the Alpaca farm and their breakfast the next morning was a highlight of the trip. Fresh bread, a variety of cheese, yogurt, fruit, etc. Nothing exotic, but everything was stellar.
Chez Eugene! This is a must-visit restaurant in Israel. French bistro in Mitzpeh Ramon--beautiful space, tasty food and very reasonable prices. It is the complete opposite of what you'd expect to find in the Negev. I've eaten there 3 times (2 lunches and 1 dinner) and have been consistently impressed. As an FYI, it is not kosher.