ISRAEL trip @ X-mas any GREAT Family restaurants
In Tel Aviv, Raphael is a good option. It is upscale, but not as expensive as a lot of others. Nice ambiance and great food, with a Morroccan accent. It is in the Dan Hotel building, but is not part of the hotel. I also always recommend Manta Ray, because the food is good, and the restaurant is above the beach, so you have beautiful sea views. Also check out Casa Nova in the Jaffa marina, for latino sea food.
I'm not an expert on Jerusalem, but one of the nicest dining experiences in Israel can be had at Majda, in the village of Ein Rafa outside of Jerusalem on the road to Tel Aviv. It is run by a Jewish/Arab couple, and the food is upscale Mediterranean with local accents. Go for lunch so you can sit in the lovely garden and listen to the village muezzin. It is a favorite with celebrities, not that you will recognize any of them.
I haven't eaten in the north for a while, but the best place I ever found was Aluma BeKfar in Ramot Naftali. They serve small plates, tapas style, and the food is delicious. They also have cabins for rent which looked nice, and Ramot Naftali is a good base for exploring the Golan Heights and the north. Don't forget to visit Chateau Golan and some of the other wineries while you're up there.
Here are a few more suggestions, since you've gotten my mind working.
For seafood, the best place is Moul Yam, in the Tel Aviv port. It is more expensive, but for lunch it shouldn't be bad, and then you can walk around the port, which is definitely worthwhile. There is a small but exquisite covered market, which is augmented on friday and saturday by an outdoor farmer's market. Great pastrami sandwiches in the covered market.
The area around the Tel Aviv Cinemateque is very lively with tons of restaurants. The best pizza in Israel is at Philippe's, run by a Frenchman who uses a wood burning oven.
Bograshov Street near the beach is good for strolling and eating. Gabbai is a felafal place that has great soups in the winter. Also look for the place selling kurtaks - a tubular coffee cake from Hungary, which is quite addictive.
Also don't miss Neveh Tzedek, a renovated historical quarter. Cafe Dallal is a good place, also Suzannah, where you can eat outside under a huge banyan tree.
In Jerusalem, when you are entering the old city for the first time, if you want to feel like you are entering another world, go through the Damascus Gate. It is in Arab East Jerusalem, but perfectly safe, I go with my kids all the time. After you enter, make a right and it will take you to the church of the holy sepulchre and all other points of interest. Ask the locals to point you to hummus lina, on the Via Dolorosa. The more popular Jaffa Gate entrance is touristy and far less interesting.
In Jerusalem, Cavalier is a good dining option. The dining room at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem is a venerable old institution, but a little pricey.
What are your thoughts on these places that have been suggested
Ali Caravan in Jaffa is widely considered the best hummus in Israel
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.
Tzidkiyahu considered 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.
For skewers Itzik Hagadol
Cloalis seafood Ramat Gan
Saturday lunch at Raphael is "amazing good"
Mul Hayam ports area seafood
Container Jaffa grill
Catit molecular cuisine , Mazlela more casual same chef
Abu Hassan humus in Jaffa
Shawarma semesh ramat gan
Akko: sayid humus, uri buri: fish.
Chez Eugene Mitzpe Ramon
Carmei Avdat Mitzpe Ramon area rustic cabin accommodations
Tom Cars- guidehorizon.com dune buggies
Shakra - "Incredible" !
Shuck area: chamishi be Mai 56 etz haim, machneyuda 25333442 10 bet yaakov also called yudaley at night.
Some of the names are also on my list of recommendations. Obviously, I think my recommendations are the best.
Some of the places on your list are quite expensive: Catit, Mizlala, even Toto. Fine dining in Tel Aviv has become very expensive.
Don't be too restaurant-driven, especially when you're talking about street food, like hummus and falafel. A lot of people are very insistent that their place is the best, and it's all a bit silly, as there's not a huge difference. It would be a shame to drive to a drab commercial area just to try hummus or falafel. Instead choose a nice area for walking, and then choose where to eat.
I also don't like steakiyot, and don't recommend them. Israelis are the most unimaginative grill cooks on earth, which is amazing, given the variety of spices we have here. How interesting can a skewer of chicken livers be? You're lucky if you're meat doesn't taste of lighter fluid.