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9 Nights in Tel Aviv

I will be in Tel Aviv for 9 nights in mid-August and would like some help with our dining itinerary.

I'm looking for a mix of unique high end fine dining, fresh market stalls, and delicious no frills Israeli comfort foods with the emphasis always on the highest quality regionally sourced produce. I would like to get a well rounded sense on the local food scene.

I have a list below which was thrown together years back, probably with the help of TA. I've yet to review every restaurant and so it may not be up to date. Before I go through this list, I would appreciate some quick feedback - if there are any immediate standouts that should be dissuaded or alternatively, recommended, please let me know!

If you've any other suggestions, I would greatly welcome them!

If you had 9 nights and 10 days to eat your way through Tel Aviv, how would you go about planning your itinerary:

• Catit

• Raphael

• Herbert Samuel

• Cordelia

• Messa

• Onami

• Adora

• Aladin

• Coffee Bar

• Segev Express

• Haj Kahil

• Thai House

• Orna & Ella

• Piccola Pasta

• Benedict

• Dallal

• Noa Bistro

• Abu Nassar-Hinnawi

• Cafe Suzanna

• Abu-Hassan (Ali-Karavan)

• Bezalel Market - Falafel Stalls!

• Carmel Market

• Napoleon Patisserie

• Max Brenner

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  1. How does this itinerary sound?

    SUN, AUGUST 12
    _______________

    • Lunch at Abu-Hassan (Ali-Karavan)

    • Dinner at Kitchen Market in the Namal / Tel Aviv Port Market

    MON, AUGUST 13
    _______________

    • Lunch at Coffee Bar

    • Dinner at Catit

    TUE, AUGUST 14
    _______________

    • Lunch at Haj Kahil (or) Abu Nassar-Hinnawi (or) Aladin in Jaffa

    • Dinner at Bertie

    WED, AUGUST 15
    _______________

    • Breakfast at the Hotel Montefiore

    • Dinner at Raphael (or) Tzfon Abraxas (or) Herbert Samuel (or) Yoezer Bar Yain in Jaffa

    THU, AUGUST 16
    _______________

    • Lunch at Basta in the Carmel Market

    • Dinner at Shila

    • Michal's Hena Party

    FRI, AUGUST 17
    ______________

    • Lunch at Cena

    • Shabbat Dinner in Jaffa (?)

    SAT, AUGUST 18
    _______________

    • Lunch at Bezalel Market Falafel Stalls

    • Dinner at Mul Yam

    SUN, AUGUST 19
    _______________

    • Lunch at Adora

    • Wedding Party

    5 Replies
    1. re: OliverB

      Okay, here's my two cents.

      Lighten up on your eating schedule. You will be there in August, so it will be hot. I wouldn't do lunch at Coffee Bar and dinner at Catit, for example. It's just too much (although both places are good.) Also, Israel has great fine dining, but you'll find a certain similarity. The upscale mediterranean thing - it's a formula, all the menus start to look the same. I would look for more fun, kick-ey sorts of restaurants.

      I'm not sure kitchen market will be open on sunday. The covered market is closed. It's also better to go for lunch, when you can enjoy the sea views. I also think Adora is closed on sunday. Need to check it.

      Skip Hinnawi and the other Arabic restaurants in Tel Aviv. They're just not very good, and you'll do better in Abu Ghosh. Once is enough. It's not the most interesting cuisine in the world. Simple grilled meat and mezzes. Across from Abu Ghosh, in the village of Ein Hemed, don't miss Majda. Beautiful, garden restaurant with innovative cooking.

      Choose Herbert Samuel or Raphael. Not the other two.

      I disagree about Bet Thailandi (Thai House). I think the food's great, and worth a trip. It's lighter food, better for summer. It's also near the beach, and Bograshov is fun street to walk on, with great ice cream (or try a kurtosh - an indescribable pastry from Hungary). Also try a place called Kiosk, owned by the controversial celebrity chef Eyal Shani. It is on Ibn Gvirol and Kaplan. They serve gourmet pita sandwiches, and the lines are out the door. Mezcal in the bohemian Florentin has surprisingly good Mexican, and is probably the only place in Israel to get good margaritas. Great pizza near the cinematheque at Philipe's, a Frenchman who brought his pizza-making skills to Israel, and has the only woodburning oven in Israel. That's also a really fun area to eat and walk around - tons of restaurants. Likewise Ibn Gvirol near the Tel Aviv municipality. Brasserie near there is very popular.

      For the first time, you can get a good pastrami sandwich in Israel. Try Rubens (several locations now, the flagship on Yehuda Halevy), and the place in the covered market in the Tel Aviv port is even better. To me, this is kind of eating is much more fun than hunting for reviews on the internet.

      Finally, I will give you the hot tip. I have a lot of foodie friends, and they're all raving about a tiny place called Oasis on Tchernikovski Street. The chef is an American woman who worked at some big places in the Bay Area. It's in stealth mode now, you won't find anything about it on the internet, but maybe by the time you come they will be out in the open.

      1. re: MarkC

        Thank you SO much, I really appreciate all of the detailed feedback and suggestions - especially re. Oasis, which sounds fantastic and just our sort of thing!

        We are coming from the Bay Area ourselves (and Montreal respectively) so we're less interested in French Bistro or mexican and pizza as we come from the best of these food scenes!

        It's mostly the Mediterranean inspired cuisines, Israeli and Mid-Eastern, fresh locally sourced produce, salads, spreads, mezzes, fresh seafood, etc. that are our main areas of interest. We'll also be travelling through some more rural parts of the country to the North, and on to Jordan for a few days, in which we'll surely be eating more rustic - so Tel Aviv is of special culinary interest to us!

        The Arabic restaurants that you suggest we skip are Tzfon Abraxas, Haj Kahil, Abu Nassar-Hinnawi, Aladin, and Yoezer Bar Yain? Are none of them worth experiencing, even from a cultural perspective? Or should we just wait until Abu Gosh?

        Lastly, are there any specific days or times when any of the above restaurants would be closed, apart from the market in Namal as already mentioned? I think we'll move that to Tuesday at lunch.

        For dinner, would you recommend Raphael or Herbert Samuel if deciding between the two? Which would be preferred in terms of both atmosphere/setting and an inspired and creative kitchen?

        Should we try to make it to Oasis in place of Cena, if swapping out any of the above dinners? Which would you recommend we knock off to accommodate this addition?

        Thanks again for all of your help, we're so excited about this trip!!

        1. re: OliverB

          Tzfon Abraxas and Yoezer Wine Bar are not Arabic restaurants.. I find them both pretentious and ovepriced restaurants with bad attitude and inferior to the other two. I would pick Herbert Samuel.

          Not unless you consider bad food a cultural experience.

          No comparing Majda to Abu Ghosh. The first is upscale middle eastern-accented food. The second is traditional Arab grill restaurants. Try and do both, although I obviously prefer Majda, which is also more atmospheric. It is run by a Jewish/Arab couple.

          Manta Ray is a great restaurant in Tel Aviv. You can sit outside overlooking the beach, with great, somewhat original mezzot and seafood. I would recommend this over some of the more expensive places on your list.

          I haven't heard anything about Cena.

          1. re: OliverB

            By the way, if you really want good, authentic Arabic food, wait until you go up north and eat at El Babor in Uhm Al Fahm or Diana in Nazareth. There is simply no comparing with what you'll find in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

        2. re: OliverB

          Shuk banamal is much much better than kitchen market, and they are in the same building on the namal.

        3. And for 5 nights in Jerusalem?

          THU, AUGUST 23
          _______________

          • Brunch at Abu Kamel

          • Late Afternoon Snack at Yemenite Falafel Center

          • Dinner at SCALA

          FRI, AUGUST 24
          ______________

          • Lunch at Falafel Adir

          • Traditional Shabbat Dinner at Carmel Restaurant in the Inbal Hotel (or) Dolphin Yam

          SAT, AUGUST 25
          _______________

          • Lunch at Abu Gosh (or) Te'enim Vegetarian Cuisine

          • Dinner at Chakra

          SUN, AUGUST 26
          _______________

          • Chatzot (or) Sima

          • Dinner at Machneyuda in the Mahane Yehuda Market

          MON, AUGUST 27
          _______________

          • Brunch at Tmol Shilshom

          • Late Lunch at Ta'ami + Falafel Ovadia

          • Dinner at Lara (or) Mona Restaurant (or) The Diwan Restaurant at the Jerusalem Hotel

          3 Replies
          1. re: OliverB

            I am definitely not the Jerusalem expert, but if you're going into the old city hunt down Hummus Lina for lunch. It's on the Via Dolorosa. Enter through the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem for the real cultural experience - not the boring, touristy Jaffa Gate.

            For what it's worth, I ate at Dolphin Yam a couple of years ago and hated it. There are a ton of restaurants in that area. I remember Adom being good. For a cultural experience, eat lunch at Rachamim (?), in that same area for kubbe and other Kurdish specialties.

            I ate at Mahane Yehuda once. The food is good, but the place is cramped and noisy. It is also located some distance from the actual market. It is a kind of chop house, not what I would call a "cultural experience". I saw restaurants inside the market that looked more fun to eat at.

            I was thinking of staying at Jerusalem Hotel once (in the end we didn't), and read on trip advisor that the food is mediocre. American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem has good food in atmospheric setting, but expensive.

            1. re: MarkC

              Thanks so much, Dolphin Yam is scratched off the list and Hmmus Lina is definitely on!

              We're staying at The American Colony btw, so we'll probably end up eating something there during our stay. I generally tend to avoid eating proper meals (breakfast aside) in the same restaurant as the hotel we're staying on vacations though.

              Jerusalem Hotel sounds more like it's about the atmosphere than the food. We may end up eating Shabbat dinner at the Inbal instead, but will check both menus and dining rooms... and maybe inquire with our concierge beforehand. Sounds like we've got a pretty solid itinerary lined up otherwise!

              Thanks for all the help everyone!

              1. re: OliverB

                Last comment. If you're staying in East Jerusalem, here's an article about traditional Palestinian food, and where to find it:

                http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazi...

          2. Personally for visiting Tel Aviv, I'd remove the Thai House and replace it with Nanushka, a Georgian restaurant. While the Thai House has very good thai food, I don't think it's anything so amazing compared to Thai restaurants in the US/abroad and it's on the pricier side. As someone living in Jerusalem, getting to visit the Thai House is awesome - however if I lived in a US city where I had access to $7 padthai take away, I'd never bother with the Thai House.

            And for Jerusalem - if you're really interested in hitting up lots of falafel, I have to recommend Bebo's falafel which is on Ben Sira and really close to the Mamilla mall (not to be confused with Ben Sira hummus restaurant). The style of Bebo's is Palestinian, and falafel is fried to order. They also have a great patio garden out back and is a nice mix of amazing falafel and a lovely setting. Also - depending on the 'style' of evening you want I'd mention Yudeleh which is across the street from Machene Yehuda and owned by the same people. Yudeleh is more of a tapas bar environment, really loud and fun (if that's enjoyable). Also - eating at the Jerusalem Hotel is best done on a Friday night (need reservations) when they have live music. Depending on the "East Jerusalem dining experience" you want - the restaurant at the Legacy Hotel offers really amazing views, similar prices - but it definitely feels like you're eating in a Hotel, unlike the Jerusalem Hotel which has a more "authentic" vibe.

            Lastly, Scala is great.

            8 Replies
            1. re: cresyd

              Thanks very much, Cresyd!!

              We'll definitely add Bebo's to our itinerary, it sounds terrific!

              Would you recommend Yudeleh over Machene Yehuda if we only have the option of dining at one or the other? The atmosphere sounds livelier and more fun, but is the food a more casual affair or is it similar style menus?

              For a Friday night 'Shabbat' dinner - would you recommend eating the Carmel Restaurant at the Inbal Hotel or The Diwan Restaurant at the Jerusalem Hotel, both for food and atmosphere? We'll likely only be able to chose one.

              Lastly, how is Lara and Mona restaurant? Are they both worth visiting?

              Would you recommend Dolphin Yam over the above?

              We will likely only be able to eat at one of these restaurants and right now these three are competing on my list. Dolphin Yam seems to garner the strongest reviews, but there's less on the internet about the other places.

              Thanks again!!!

              Ps - is Te'enim Vegetarian Cuisine any good? Neither of us are vegetarians, but it looked to be an interesting setting.

              Should we eat at Abu Gosh or Majda in Ein Hemed? Is it possible to do small portion lunches at both consecutively?

              Thank you!!!

              1. re: OliverB

                For full disclosure - I've never eaten in Machene Yehuda, but I have friends who's eaten in both and say that the food in the places is very similar. I use the word "tapas bar" very loosely in the sense that the food is definitely upscale Mediterranean/Israeli and not Spanish, but the idea is more centered around ordering a number of smaller plates. Where the biggest difference is regards the vibe. Machene Yehuda is a proper sit down restaurant where you can make a reservation. Yudeleh is a bar that wraps around an open kitchen where the cooks are also the servers. Both restaurants are loud, but Yudeleh likes to give a more festive/bar atmosphere. However, if you're in a party of more than 4 - it's a bit difficult because there are no reservations and having six people stretched down a bar can be a bit awkward. That being said it's one of my favorite places in Jerusalem to eat.

                For a Shabbat dinner, I highly recommend the Jerusalem Hotel for the atmosphere. They have live music and you have to have a reservation because parties stay all night dancing, smoking, etc. It's good Arabic style food (mezze/grilled meat) - but I'd stay away from the more Western options (especially the pastas). The Westside Jerusalem hotel Shabbat dinners I'm really not a huge fan of personally. The food is often good, but I find the atmosphere a bit dreadful. I really like Mona (not kosher, also open on Shabbat - great wine) and have never eaten at Lara. Dolphin Yam has great reviews, but is definitely more on the tourist side of dining.

                I have also never been to Te'enim Vegetarian - but my roommate goes there all the time and really likes it. It also ranks very high on the atmosphere/view side (great old city views). With Abu Gosh/Majda....the food there is good - I'm just not sure exactly how worth it is regarding how you want to spend your time. Personally, I think the drive out there just to eat wouldn't be how I'd want to spend my time overall, but that's a personal preference thing.

                1. re: cresyd

                  Thanks so much, you've been a great help in planning our trip and I'll be sure to post feedback when we return!

                  One last question: how far ahead in advance do we need to make reservations for most meals? Would it be best to do so through our hotel's concierge?

                  Thanks again!!

                  1. re: OliverB

                    You're going in August? Something I forgot about, but is really important in meal planning. You may be here during Ramadan, which means that any Muslim restaurant on that list will not be open during the day - but will be open during the night. Even in "serious" tourist places around the Old City, I would avoid any Palestinian/Arab eatery as you will most likely get price gauged and many of these restaurants will be running on skeleton staffs. Places like the Jerusalem Hotel (or any eateries connected to Hotels) will be open, but will be very very dead during the day. Places do open at night - and also there will be many stalls that sell Ramadan oriented food. So getting a falafel sandwich from a vendor might be difficult - but there will be lots of people around just selling falafel balls and kibbe in bulk for the end of fasts. Places will open at night - and for reservations the American Colony is in an excellent place to make recommendations.

                    Regarding places in East Jerusalem by the American Colony that are open during the day - the American Colony is located on Nablus Road, if you're walking towards the Damascus Gate the first side street on the right is called Abu Obeidah. On this street there is a small grocery store that is open during Ramadan and also sells prepared food (sandwiches, french fries, etc). But ultimately, for Ramadan afternoon dining - your best bet in East Jerusalem are the hotels - but I'd strongly recommend avoiding that all together. However, one good reason to be in East Jerusalem around sunset is that a cannon is set off when it's time to eat again.

                    Finally - the best eating experience at the American Colony is to have tea/coffee in the garden and have some of their freshly baked cookies. And one last suggestion - there is a wine bar on the roof of the Notre Dame which apparently has wonderful wine/great views.

                    1. re: OliverB

                      Ramadan this year is from July 21 through August 19. Plan accordingly!

                      1. re: cresyd

                        Thanks so much!

                        We'll be in Tel Aviv from August 12 - 19. I hope that won't hinder our eating plans too much. We only arrive in Jerusalem on the 24th, so we should be fine once there!

                        Does this mean that I won't get the chance to try Abu-Hassan while there? That's disappointing!

                        Would you mind having a look at the following one last time and letting me know which restaurants would specifically pose problems, so that I could adjust our itinerary if needed?

                        I don't think we'll have too much trouble, as we've mostly planned to eat on the high end while in Tel Aviv, since we'll be travelling to far more rustic destinations afterword:

                        SUN, AUGUST 12
                        ______________

                        • Lunch at Abu-Hassan (Ali-Karavan)

                        • Dinner at Shila (or) Manta Ray

                        MON, AUGUST 13
                        ______________

                        • Lunch at Basta in the Carmel Market

                        • Dinner at Catit

                        TUE, AUGUST 14
                        ______________

                        • Lunch at Nanushka (or) Bet Thailandi/Thai House

                        • Dinner at Bertie

                        WED, AUGUST 15
                        ______________

                        • Breakfast at the Hotel Montefiore

                        • Dinner at Raphael (or) Herbert Samuel

                        THU, AUGUST 16
                        ______________

                        • Lunch at Coffee Bar

                        • Dinner at Cena (or) Oasis on Tchernikovski Street

                        • Michal's Hena Party

                        FRI, AUGUST 17
                        ______________

                        • Lunch at Kitchen Market in the Namal / Tel Aviv Port Market

                        • Shabbat Dinner in Jaffa (?)

                        SAT, AUGUST 18
                        ______________

                        • Lunch at Kiosk (or) Bezalel Market Falafel Stalls

                        • Dinner at Mul Yam

                        SUN, AUGUST 19
                        ______________

                        • Lunch at Adora

                        • Wedding Party

                        1. re: OliverB

                          I would exchange the sea breezes of Manta Ray for lunch in the Carmel Market in August, when it's hot, fetid, and unprepossessing. If you want, go late at night to Basta for wine and nibbles, when it will be (somewhat) cooler. It's nicer sitting outside. It's really a wine bar, and my foodie friends complain that meals there are vastly overpriced. I've only had wine and appetizers.

                          Tourists to the Carmel market usually go to the adjacent Yemenite Quarter to eat. This could be a good choice if Ali Karavan is closed. Some of the restaurants there have been there since the British mandate. Hummus Surie (Syria) is often mentioned as the best, although there probably isn't a huge difference among them. Just go and see which one looks inviting. I've never bothered even to look at the names of the restaurants when I've eaten there. The hummus is good. Look for mallawach (Yemenite bread) and other specialties.

                          If you have a car, I'd recommend an excursion to Herzliya, a beach community about ten minutes north of Tel Aviv. First, you can have lunch at a Tripolitanian restaurant in the tiny commercial center of Nof Yam, which is the northern half of Herzliya. The Jews of Libya, like the Italian colonizers, considered themselves citizens of Tripoli, and their cooking is spicier than other North African cuisine. Here you can have chraime, mafroum, couscous, and other dishes which are an important part of the Israeli culinary tradition, but which tourists seldom hear about. Nothing fancy, but good, homecooked fare. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, it is the name of the female owner, but it is in the only commercial center in Nof Yam (really just a handful of buildings), at the end of the road that runs closest to the shore. I wouldn't recommend the trip just for that, but just around the corner is the Sidnah Allah Mosque (corrupted to "Sidney Alley" by the local Jews) sitting on the bluffs above the sea, one of the more picturesque sights in Israel. Just next door are the ruins of the crusader port and fortress of Arsuf, also very picturesque and worth a visit. You can get directions on the website of the Israeli parks authority.

                          Also, Raphael does a great brunch on saturday. It consists of a set first course of delicious mezzot, with a choice of main courses with a North African slant. It's really lunch, not at all breakfast-ey. I doubt that the Bezalel market, and it's felafal stand, will be open on saturday. Also kiosk. It's shabbat.

                          1. re: OliverB

                            After Ramadan, there should be no problem. There is Eid, (the holiday right after Ramadan) - so there would be no shame in asking your hotel in Jerusalem but the holiday is far more celebratory than "no work". There is also an Abu-Hassen location in Jerusalem should your Tel Aviv attempts not work. I am not at all familiar with Ramadan in Jaffa and how that works.

                            Regarding Nanushkah/Thai House - as it is August - while Nanushkah I prefer far far more, it is heavier food. Regarding food up north - I've never had an amazing "never had anywhere else" experience in a restaurant up north. And Tiberias is a big "meh". However ,there are great roadside stands to buy Druze labne/liters of olive oil. Greatest food experience I've ever had up north.

                2. Oh and what about Abu Marun, Falafel HaZkenim, and Hanamal 24 in Haifa?

                  Uri Buri in Akko?

                  Roberg at Moshav Livnim, Decks Restaurant, Avi's Restaurant, etc. near Tiberias?

                  These would all fall between August 19 - 24.

                  I imagine there's no restaurant shutdowns in the immediate days following Ramadan? We should be fine?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: OliverB

                    Uri Buri is delicious, but inconsistent. I've had disappointing meals there. Your best bet is if the fat man himself, Uri, is in the kitchen while you're there.

                    And of course, if you're in Acco, you have to go to Hummus Said, in the market, which people say has the best hummus in Israel. Just look for the line. Whether it's the best hummus is rather an inane question, but it makes for a good destination.

                    Personally, I would give Tiberias a miss. The Kinneret (sea of gallilee) is most beautiful viewed from a distance (did you know that it's full of leeches?). Tiberias is a budget holiday destination and will be packed in August. It is relentlessly kosher. I find it rather a miserable place, and in August it will be as hot as hell. There are far more beautiful and interesting places (with better food) in northern Israel.

                  2. Thanks so much to all of you for the detailed help with planning our itinerary!

                    I've taken all of your suggestions down and have adjusted our plans accordingly; my girlfriend and I are both so excited for this trip!!

                    Tiberias is a budget holiday town?? Oh no! We're staying two full nights at the Scots Hotel. I hope this wasn't a poor decision! And I had no idea that the Sea of Galilee was full of leeches! Does it at least serve as a decent base for touring in the region? If it helps at all, I'll post our full itinerary to check out below of where we'll be travelling and what we'll be doing and eating along the way.

                    I hope we didn't make a mistake by devoting two full nights to Tiberias. Here are our plans, copy-pasted from a notepad file:

                    • August 12 - Shalom Hotel & Relax, Tel Aviv

                    • August 13 - Shalom Hotel & Relax, Tel Aviv

                    • August 14 - Shalom Hotel & Relax, Tel Aviv

                    • August 15 - The Maxim, Tel Aviv

                    • August 16 - The Maxim, Tel Aviv

                    • August 17 - The Maxim, Tel Aviv

                    • August 18 - The Maxim, Tel Aviv

                    • August 19 - The Maxim, Tel Aviv

                    • August 20 - The Efendi Hotel, Acre

                    • August 21 - The Scots Hotel, Tiberias

                    • August 22 - The Scots Hotel, Tiberias

                    • August 23 - Mizpe Hayamim, Golan Heights

                    • August 24 - The American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

                    • August 25 - The American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

                    • August 26 - The American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

                    • August 27 - The American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

                    • August 28 - The American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

                    • August 29 - Evason Ma'In Hot Springs, Madaba

                    • August 30 - Mövenpick Resort, Petra

                    • August 31 - Mövenpick Resort, Petra

                    • September 01 - Kempinski Hotel Ishtar, Madaba

                    • September 02 - Kempinski Hotel Ishtar, Madaba

                    • September 03 - Amman to SFO

                    {Border Crossing: Enter Jordan/Israel via the Allenby King Hussein Bridge}

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>
                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    TEL AVIV - (9 Nights)
                    ________

                    • Shalom Hotel & Relax - Superior Room

                    • The Maxim Hotel - ???

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Old Jaffa

                    • Neve Tzedek

                    • White City

                    • Sheinkin Street

                    • The Tayelet

                    • Palmach Museum

                    • Independence Hall

                    • Old Tel Aviv Port Area

                    • Nachlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall

                    • Museum of the Jewish Diaspora (Bet Hatefutsoth)

                    • Tel Aviv Museum of Art

                    • Tel Aviv Cinematheque

                    • The Old Trumpeldor Cemetery

                    • Dive Tel Aviv, Scuba Diving Center - Night Diving, Sea Wolf Wreck, Gordon Caves

                    Nearby Destinations
                    ___________________

                    • Herzliya - (Apollonia-Arsuf National Park, Crusader Fortress, Tel Michal, Sidnah Ali Mosque, Herzliya Pituach, Beaches, etc!)

                    • The Ayalon Institue in Rechovot

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Catit

                    • Mul Yam

                    • Raphael

                    • Herbert Samuel

                    • Cordelia

                    • Kitchen Market

                    • Shila

                    • Bertie

                    • Tzfon Abraxas

                    • Yoezer Bar Yain

                    • Cena

                    • Messa

                    • Onami

                    • Adora

                    • Aladin

                    • Coffee Bar

                    • Segev Express

                    • Haj Kahil

                    • Nanuchka

                    • Thai House

                    • Orna & Ella

                    • Piccola Pasta

                    • Benedict

                    • Dallal

                    • Noa Bistro

                    • Abu Nassar-Hinnawi

                    • Cafe Suzanna

                    • Abu-Hassan (Ali-Karavan)

                    • Bezalel Market - Falafel Stalls!

                    • Carmel Market

                    • Napoleon Patisserie

                    • Max Brenner

                    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>>

                    CAESAREA + HAIFA - (En Route to Akko from Tel Aviv!)
                    ________________

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Theatre at Caesarea National Park / Ancient Roman Seaside Ruins (Caesarea)

                    • The Caesarea Ralli Museum (Caesarea)

                    • Mei Kedem / Ancient Water (Caesarea)

                    • Bahá’í Gardens (Haifa)

                    • Carmel Forest Spa: Ayurveda Treatment, Turkish Bath, Wet and Dry Sauna, Solarium, Pool, Jacuzzi, etc. (Haifa)

                    Haifa Restaurants
                    _________________

                    • Abu Marun / Abu Maroon / Abu Maroun - (Hummus!)

                    • Falafel HaZkenim

                    • Hanamal 24

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    ACRE / AKKO - (1 Night)
                    ___________

                    • The Efendi Hotel - Room 10

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Old Town - (Seawall Promenade, Lighthouse, Marketplace, Fisherman's Square)

                    • The Bahá’í Shrine and Gardens

                    • Crusader Fortress

                    • Templars Tunnel

                    • El Jazzar Mosque

                    • Khan al-Umdan

                    Nearby Destinations
                    ___________________

                    • Rosh HaNikra - Cable Car Ride Descending to the Grottoes, Light & Sound Show, Explore the Sea Promenade

                    • Haifa - (Bahá’í Gardens)

                    • Nazareth

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Uri Buri

                    • Hummus Said in the Market

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    TIBERIAS - (2 Nights)
                    ________

                    • The Scots Hotel - Antique Lake View Room

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Sailing on the Sea of Galilee

                    • Capernaum - (Remains of 4th Century Synagogue, House of Peter, Church of the Multiplication)

                    • Optional Tours in the Gailee: Agamon Hula, Bental & Avital Hill, Yehudia River, Zavitan River, etc.

                    Nearby Destinations
                    ___________________

                    • Rosh HaNikra - Cable Car Ride Descending to the Grottoes, Light & Sound Show, Explore the Sea Promenade

                    • Nazareth

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Roberg at Moshav Livnim

                    • Decks Restaurant

                    • Avi's Restaurant

                    • El Babor (Umm al-Fahm)

                    • Diana (Nazareth)

                    • Pausa Inn (Upper Galilee)

                    • Erez Komorovsky Culinary Workshop (?)

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    ROSH PINNA - (1 Night)
                    __________

                    • Mizpe Hayamim - Superior Suite

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve - (Meshushim Reserve, Brekhat Ha'Meshushim Hexagon Pool, etc.)

                    • The Betekha, Bethsaida, Majrase and Zaki Nature Reserve

                    Nearby Destinations
                    ___________________

                    • Safed - (Crusader Ruins, Local Wineries, etc.)

                    • Tel Dan Nature Reserve

                    • Banias Archaeological Site

                    • Mt. Hermon

                    • Nazareth

                    • Agamon Hula

                    • Bental & Avital Hill

                    • Yehudia River

                    • Zavitan River

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Muscat Restaurant

                    • Vegetarian Restaurant

                    • Organic Farm Shop, Herb and Vegetable Garden, Orchards, etc.

                    • Pausa Inn (Upper Galilee)

                    • Erez Komorovsky Culinary Workshop (?)

                    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>>

                    BEIN SHE'AN NATIONAL PARK - (En Route to Jerusalem!)
                    _________________________

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Roman Temple and Amphitheater

                    • Byzantine Bathhouse

                    • Paladius Street

                    • etc!

                    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>>

                    JERUSALEM - (5 Nights)
                    _________

                    • American Colony Hotel - Original Jr. Suite with Private Terrace (Old Wing)

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Western (Wailing) Wall

                    • Old City of Jerusalem - Ramparts Walk - Via Dolorosa - etc.

                    • City Gates - New Gate, Zion, Dung, Jaffa, Lions’ (St. Stephen's), Herod’s, Damascus (Shechem)

                    • Israel Museum

                    • Guided Tour of The City of David

                    • Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

                    • Mount Zion

                    • Temple Mount & al-Haram al-Sharif

                    • Al-Aqsa Mosque

                    • Hezekiah's Tunnels

                    • The Citadel and Tower of David Museum

                    • Belz Synagogue

                    • Hurva Synagogue

                    • Notre Dame de Sion Ecce Homo Convent

                    • St. Anne's Church and the Bethesda Pool

                    • Christian Quarter - Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Church of John the Baptist, Church of St. Saviour, Deir al-Sultan Monastery, Mosque of Omar, Muristan, etc.

                    • Tisch Family Zoological Gardens

                    • Mount of Olives:

                    * Paternoster Church, Dominus Flevit, Church of Maria Magdalene, Garden of Gethsemane, Yad Avshalom, Tomb of Zechariah, Tomb of Benei Hezir, Mary's Tomb, Church of the Pater Noster, Church of All Nations, Orson Hyde Park, etc.

                    • Garden Tomb

                    • Saint George's Cathedral

                    • Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park

                    Nearby Destinations
                    ___________________

                    • Abu Ghosh

                    • Masada

                    • Qumran Caves

                    • Sorek Cave in the Avshalom Nature Reserve

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Scala Restaurant at the David Citadel Hotel

                    • Chakra

                    • Yudeleh

                    • Machneyuda

                    • The Diwan and Garden Restaurant at the Jerusalem Hotel

                    • Mona Restaurant & Bar

                    • Majda

                    • Dolphin Yam

                    • Zuni

                    • Angelica

                    • Gabriel

                    • Hachazer

                    • Amigo Emil

                    • The Eucalyptus

                    • Barood

                    • Abu Kamel

                    • Tmol Shilshom

                    • Yemenite Falafel Center

                    • Ta'ami

                    • Falafel Adir

                    • Falafel Ovadia

                    • Hummus Lina

                    • Te'enim Vegetarian Cuisine

                    • Trezoro

                    • Mahane Yehuda Market

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    MA'IN - (1 Night)
                    _____

                    • Evason Ma'In Hot Springs - The Honeymoon Suite

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Natural Hot Springs and Thermal Pools

                    • Six Senses Spa - Hammam Ma’In Signature Journey

                    • Village, Goat Farm, Mosque, etc.

                    • Six Senses Gallery & Library

                    • Daily Movie Nights

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Sunset Cocktails and Tapas at Brown Bar

                    • Private Candlelit Table at Olive Bedouin Zarb Restaurant Overlooking the Hot Springs Falls

                    • Champagne Breakfast on Suite Terrace

                    • Lunch at the Pool Bar (Senses of Arabia and White Bar)

                    • Evening Wine & Cheese Tastings at The Cellar, Chef's Table

                    • Sunset Dining at Panorama {or} Private Cliff-Top Dining Area

                    • Breakfast At The Springs on the Outdoor Terrace

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    AL-KARAK - (En Route along the King's Highway!)
                    ________

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Kerak Castle

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    PETRA / WADI MUSA - (2 Nights)
                    _________________

                    • Mövenpick Resort Petra - Executive Suite / Royal Suite Upgrade (?)

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Moonlit Tour of The Lost City of Petra: Siq, Al-Khazna / Treasury, Al Dayr, Street of Facades, Al Beidha, The Temple of Al Uzza / Winged Lions

                    • Sunrise Walking Tour of Baths, Markets, Storerooms and Tombs

                    • Mule Ride to the Monastery

                    • Jordanian Cooking Courses at The Petra Kitchen

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Al Qantarah

                    • Sahtain Restaurant at Taybet Zaman Resort Hotel

                    • Al Iwan in Moevenpick Hotel

                    • Al Maq'aad Bar in Moevenpick Hotel

                    • Al-Afandi Restaurant

                    • The Cave Bar

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    WADI RUM - (Evening Trip from Petra)
                    ________

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Sunset Camelback Excursion to Lawrence's House & Spring / Ain Shalaaleh, Nabataean Temple, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Burdah Rock Bridge, etc.

                    • Desert Jeep Tour

                    • Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Flight over Wadi Rum - (Royal Aero Sports)

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Bedouin Camp Dining on the Red Sand Dunes beneath the Desert Stars

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    SWEIMAH, DEAD SEA REGION - (2 Nights)
                    ________________________

                    • Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea - Ishtar Jacuzzi Suite

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Lounge by Beachfront and Float in Dead Sea

                    • Celestial Pools - Relax by Lazy River, Morning Dip in Sunken Pool, Sunset Swim in Ashur Pool, Twilight Plunge in Akkad Infinity Pool

                    • Tennis Courts by Starlight

                    • Anantara Spa: Royal Hammam Ritual & Traditional Thai Massage

                    Nearby Destinations
                    ___________________

                    • Madaba - (Madaba Mosaic Map in the Church of St. George, Um er-Rasas / Kastrom Mefa'a, etc.)

                    • Jerash

                    • The Mujib Reserve & Wadi Mujib Gorge

                    • Mount Nebo

                    • Dana Nature Reserve

                    Restaurants
                    ___________

                    • Dinner at The Codes

                    • Single Malts and Cocktails at Kish Bar

                    • Breakfast at The Obelisk

                    • Lunch at Akkad Pool Grill

                    • Cocktails and Aperitifs at Sumerian Bar

                    • Dinner at Ashur Pizza & Grill

                    • In-Room Breakfast on Private Terrace

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    JERASH - (Day Trip from Dead Sea Region)
                    ______

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Explore the Ancient Roman Ruins of Jerash

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    MADABA - (Day Trip from Dead Sea Region)
                    ______

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Madaba Mosaic Map in the Church of St. George

                    • Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a)

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    AMMAN - (Day Trip, Return to SFO via Queen Alia Int'l Airport)
                    _____

                    Sightseeing
                    ___________

                    • Ancient Philadelphia

                    • Nymphaeum

                    • Jabal al-Qal'a / Amman Citadel - (Temple of Hercules, Byzantine Basilica, Al-Qasar, Ummayad Palace, etc.)

                    • National Archaeological Museum

                    • Roman Amphitheater

                    • King Abdullah Mosque / Blue Mosque

                    • Abu Darwish Mosque

                    • Qasr Kharana / Qasr el-Kharraneh

                    • Qasr Amra

                    • Royal Automobile Museum

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>
                    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>

                    • Tour Guide Contact: Boaz Shalgi at E.d.I. Travel +972 77 410 09 85 - (editravel.co.il)

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: OliverB

                      I'd really look at lunch at Haret Jdoudna in Madaba - it was one of the best meals we had outside of Israel.

                      1. re: FoodDee

                        Boy, looks like you swallowed the travel book!

                        Yes, skip Tiberias. Two nights there is crazy. If you really want to "do" the sea of gallilee, stay in Ramot on the bluffs above the lake, in a zimmer. That's what Israelis do. There are good restaurants there too. Mitzpe Yamim is a health treatment spa, where people spend the day wandering through the hotel in their bath robes waiting for massages. The place is kind of run down looking.

                        CresyD is right, it's hard to find really good food inthe north. But there are exceptions. Check out this place: http://www.alumabakfar.co.il/index.ph...

                        It is in Ramot Naftali, high above the Hula Valley, with spectacular views. The food is far and away the best I've had (tapas style - but real Spanish ones, not Israeli) and the hotel looked nice also, though we didn't stay. If it were me, I'd spend maybe one night in Ramot and two nights at this place. A drive through Tiberias will confirm that you made the right decision.

                        Other things to do. The goat dairy chalav im a ruach: http://www.goatswiththewind.com/organ...

                        Forgive the cheesy poem (no pun intended) on their website. This place is kind of a kick. A back-to-nature couple has built this rustic farm with a rambling garden where you can sample their cheeses (specializing in Italian style cheeses) and the woman makes quite a delicious lunch. It's on the way to the sea of gallilee, so you can stop for lunch before continuing on.

                        It'll be too hot to be terribly active during the day, but do a safari layla (night safari). If you want to see wild boar they'll take you to a game trail at dusk, and at night they drive around with a big spotlight looking for porcupines, gazelles, foxes, etc. Even if you don't see anything, it's kind of fun. Ask at your hotel.

                        At Kibbutz Ein Zivan in the Golan Heights you can do a "katif", or fruit picking. You pay for a basket and can pick cherries and blackberries. There is something rather lovely about doing this. August may be late in the season, so you'll need to check. Pelter, a boutique winery, is also located there, although I'm not sure if they have visitor faciltiies. If not, definitely worth visitng another Golan Heights winery, like Yarden or Chateau Golan.

                        And now, for the best tip of your life. Spend a day with Morris: 052-849-9217. Morris is a tour guide who specializes in fruit trees. There are lot of old orchards gone wild in the gallilee, with fruit varieties you won't see in any supermarket, and Morris knows them all. August is a bad month for most things, but it's great for figs and mulberries. Make sure he takes you to Suriman, an abandoned Circassian village in the Golan. It's nominally in a military area, so it's unsignposted, and nobody knows about it. It's like something from Indiana Jones, with the zebra-striped minaret rising from the forest canopy. And the fruit trees. You can stuff yourself with the most delicious mulberries you'll ever eat. Spectacular views over Syria. This will be the highlight of your trip.

                        I always wanted to go to Wadi Mujib in Jordan. Check it out on the internet.

                        1. re: MarkC

                          Wow, thanks so much for all your great tips!

                          Why is it that you feel we've "swallowed a guide book" though? I based most of our itinerary off Abercrombie and Kent's tours to be honest, thinking that we would experience all the highlights that way. Unfortunately though, we've already pre-paid both nights in Tiberias as I got a discounted "early booking" rate on our room. I wasn't actually planning on spending our two days within Tiberias though... Is it not still a convenient location for touring all of these places above during the days? Same with the Mitzpe Hayamim... we couldn't care less about the place itself (although I've heard that it's some of the nicer accommodations in the area) but were just planning to position ourselves there for a night to explore the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights. Could we still achieve all of this (incl. the local kibutzs, fruit orchards, etc) from where we're staying? The safari layla sounds especially interesting!

                          Thanks again for all the insider tips!

                          1. re: OliverB

                            Tiberias is still pretty far from the Golan, probably about an hour, so not an especially good base, but as you've prepaid, nothing to be done. Watch out for leeches! http://www.ocean.org.il/Eng/Focus/lee...

                            1. re: MarkC

                              Well we are spending one night in Rosh Pina, which I believe is bordering on the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights.

                              1. re: OliverB

                                That's true. Rosh Pina is a good base.

                                By the way, I was only teasing you about the leeches. They do have occasional outbreaks, but it seems to be only in years when the lake is severely stressed by drought. This year we had plenty of rain.

                            2. re: OliverB

                              We actually found the Scot's Hotel to be really nice and did use it as a base to tour for two days (on an organized tour) - didn't actually spend any time in Tiberias per se. I wouldn't worry about it.

                              1. re: FoodDee

                                Thanks so much, that's a big relief!

                                We're speaking with K&D and A&F right now about customizing some tours in the area, since we won't be driving ourselves and have a limited amount of time in the region. I think between our two nights in Tiberias and one night in Rosh Pinna, we should be able to see most of the Galilee and Golan Heights. We're also spending a night in Akko to tour Haifa, Rosh HaNikra, Caesarea, etc.

                                And I'm glad to hear that the leeches were exagerrated; we're really looking forward to sailing on the Galilee - phew!

                            3. re: MarkC

                              It's now 3 week after cherry season in the Golan. Apples are about all that's on the trees. Pelter does do tours for visitors but you'll want to call Tal ahead of time and let him know you're coming. The tasting was extensive and his wines are good. Ortal wineries nearby also does tours and the people are also very nice, but the wine at Pelter is simply better.

                              You can eat the Bokrim restaurant in Merom Golan. Not brilliant by any stretch but better than I would have expected. Also, there are some fine Druze restaurants in Masade, just up the road from Ein Zivan. Sambusak House was more than decent and there was a good falafel joint on the southern outskirts.

                          2. re: OliverB

                            I personally like Barood more for (alcoholic) drinks and a snack than a proper meal.

                            The ramparts walk is my favorite way to see the Old City - and does end conveniently near the beginning of the Via Dolorosa. Also, near one of the stations of the cross is the Austrian Hospice, and it's great to go up to their roof at sunset. Perfect place for photos.

                            I personally wouldn't recommend the City of David tour - but to each their own.

                            And one more thing to add to your list, there's a private tour guide, named Jacobien who gives tours of Mea Sha'arim and the religious neighborhoods of Jerusalem. She's very good, very interesting.

                          3. We are planning a trip to Israel (my first time) in Dec/Jan. Thank you for starting this thread, it is going to be of tremendous help.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: dkennedy

                              You're welcome!

                              Can anyone please tell me how far in advance would you recommend we start making dining reservations? Should I start calling now to be safe; especially for the finer dining outings? Would most restaurants be answering phones in English or should I anticipate difficulty? Lastly, what time do most people eat out in Tel Aviv; is 8pm-ish average dinner time or are they on an earlier/later schedule?

                              Thanks!!

                              1. re: OliverB

                                Also, do the majority of restaurants accept debit or Visa cards for payment; including the smaller family run and hole-in-the-wall eateries, kiosks, etc. or is it primarily cash (nis) transactions? I just want to get a better idea of how I'll be spending and what type of prepaid card, debit, or traveller's checks to bring down in order to avoid high currency exchange or atm withdrawal fees.

                                Thanks again!!

                                1. re: OliverB

                                  I have lived in Jerusalem for 4 years, and the only places I know of that accept reservations are the higher end establishments (which in Jerusalem really only includes a small number of places, Chakra, Machene Yehuda, and some restaurants based in hotels). Also - however - if you plan on having brunch/lunch on a Saturday in West Jerusalem, I highly recommend making reservations. Mostly because there are only a few places, and they fill up for that reasone. I think for most places, the soonest I'd try to make reservations is 2 weeks in advanced (and that might be too early for some places). In general, Israeli dining is not known for its customer service - so even if you spoke flawless Hebrew, rudeness or "general difficulty" is par for the course. Just wait through it and try not to get frustrated.

                                  Regarding payment, most restaurants will accept major credit/debit cards - however no place I have ever been to in Israel (including restaurants in hotels) allows you to add the tip to a credit/debit card. Standard tip is 10%, and it will mean having the cash on hand. Other than that, cash v. credit card trends are pretty similar to the US in terms of where you can pay with what. While most restaurants will allow you to pay with a credit card, smaller and cheaper eateries are often cash based (falafel/hummus/shwarma places) unless they're part of a chain or cater to tourists (which in Jerusalem is most places). Some places will tell you that they'll accept dollars, and I promise that I have never heard of of a remotely acceptable price or exchange rate (at one place I know, they accept dollars but if something is priced at 10 shekels they'll charge $10 - that's the worst place I know, but they get away with it).

                                  Hope that helps.

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    Thank you so much cresyd, that was very helpful!

                                    We are leaving in 7 days and are very excited!!! It feels like so many months ago since we started planning this trip; I can't wait to finally be on vacation!

                                    I have one question re. our food itinerary in Tel Aviv -- we will unfortunately have to knock off dinner on the Thursday night to accommodate a friend's ceremony for her upcoming wedding. This means that either Cena or Oasis are off the list.

                                    Should we try to schedule either of those in on another night, and if so, in place of what? Shila, Catit, Bertie, Herbert Samuel, Mul Yam??

                                    Which should be prioritized? What's most interesting and unique both in terms of food, preparation, service, and atmosphere? Should we simply scratch those off foir Thursday or replace any of the above restaurants with either Cena or Oasis, and if so, which of the two and which previously scheduled meals should be replaced?

                                    Thanks so much!!

                            2. PLEASE HELP ME PICK TWO:

                              1 - BERTIE

                              2 - HERBERT SAMUEL

                              3 - OASIS

                              4 - CENA

                              WHICH TWO OF THE ABOVE WOULD YOU CHOSE AND WHY??

                              THANKS!!

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: OliverB

                                ADDING ONE MORE OPTION:

                                - MEL & MICHELLE

                                THANKS!!!

                                1. re: OliverB

                                  I am not up at all on comprehensive Tel Aviv dining - so I definitely look forward to hearing your opinions about these places.

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    Thanks cresyd!

                                    Here's what we have so far in regards to dinner reservations in Tel Aviv:

                                    - Sun. night @ ??? (Need help deciding!)

                                    - Monday night @ Catit

                                    - Tuesday night @ Mel and Michelle

                                    - Wednesday night @ Oasis

                                    - Thursday night @ Reserved for Friend's Wedding Ceremonies

                                    - Friday night @ Reserved for Friend's Wedding Ceremonies

                                    - Saturday night @ ??? (Need help deciding!)

                                    Thurs. and Fri. nights are reserved for wedding plans, ceremonies and dinners with friends at their pre-arranged chosings. I believe one is a Shabbat dinner in Jaffa.

                                    This leaves us with 2 more dinners to add to our itinerary.

                                    One will be our very first night in Tel Aviv, and as we'll surely be jetlegged and exhausted after arrival, I was thinking that it would be nice to eat at Manta Ray or Shila by the sea, for a more casual laidback atmosphere.

                                    The other dinner will be our very last night in Tel Aviv, and so I would very much like to make it a really special and memorable ocassion; cost is not a consideration at all!

                                    I'm uncertain between Mul Yam, Manta Ray, Herbert Samuel, Bertie, Cena, Shila, Cordelia, or Kimmel.

                                    We're both from San Francisco and regularly dine amongst the finer kitchens (on both ends of the price scale) up and down the California coast. The one obvious absence, largely inaccessible to us on the West Coast, is found in the authentic flavors and culinary regions of the Middle East and Mediterranean. We are very much looking forward to experiencing a more refined, intricate, and sophiticated approach to this style of cooking, with an obvious focus on the freshest and highest quality local and organic ingredients - produce, fish, meats, etc. Innovative, experimental, and upscale Middle Eastern fusion, I suppose. It's something quite different which interests us greatly.

                                    I believe that we'll be eating brunch/lunch at Raphael on Saturday, which comes highly recommended. If anyone feels this should be swapped for one of the remaining dinners however, we'd be open to adjusting our plans according to your suggestions!

                                    It's the remaining two dinners that we would greatly appreciate some input towards.

                                    I understand that it's not necessarily customary in Israeli culture to eat out at very expensive restaurants, which leaves me concerned at who and what some of these higher-end establishments are geared towards (tourist market?)

                                    We love to eat local and seasonal, which is why we chose Oasis and Mel & Michelle.

                                    Catit looked quite special as well.

                                    My question is, which of the above listed restaurants would you agree are most deserving of their reputation and or ratings (perceived value excluded!) and judging strictly in terms of the levels of creativity displayed in the kitchen, unique and interesting flavors, unforgettable dishes or daily multi-course tasting menus, and the overall ambiance, service and presentation displayed in the dining room?

                                    Is there anything (or any previously mentioned restaurant) that would be most akin to any of the top-rated Michelin star kitchens in Europe or abroad?

                                    Again, we're considering the following (but open to any other suggestions) based on traveler reviews and ratings found online:

                                    - Mul Yam
                                    - Herbert Samuel
                                    - Bertie
                                    - Cena
                                    - Cordelia
                                    - Kimmel

                                    We also love to try daily degustations and multi-course tasting menus, chef's tables, or any other uniquely memorable dining experiences. Your help would be very much appreciated!

                                    Thanks so much!

                                    1. re: OliverB

                                      I'm familiar with Manta Ray and another coast based restaurant in that neighborhood (who's name is totally escaping me). If you are acustomed to quality California seafood dining, I would hestitate towards recommending Manta Ray. It's location is lovely and the space is lovely - but it's not the most innovative or brilliant food and while they have the mezze/small appetizers - they're not the best ones I've ever had.

                                      That being said, I really appreciate going to Manta Ray when I do because it's a great location to eat by the sea and a lot of the seafood they serve I have very limited access to in general when in Israel, and definitely in Jerusalem. The dining room itself is also very comfortable and as far as the service goes, it's more 'Western' than lots of places. It's also a place where many of my friends have taken friends/family right after they get off the plane. It's wonderful for either walking there along the beach (or walking back).

                                      Regarding the other Tel Aviv restaurants you've mentioned....I think I've eaten at Mul Yam (one of the port restaurants - so while on the water, it's a different dynamic and more crowded). If it's the place I'm thinking of, they have excellent mezze and good seafood. But I wouldn't consider it to be fine dining in an American/European way. From my experience, most restaurants on the water in Tel Aviv are more likely to be heavy on the tourist side of things and be more casual. Also, if you go to Manta Ray, I wouldn't also go to Mul Yam - too similar an experience.

                                      I really don't know any of the other restaurants (by reputation or experience). Tel Aviv is far more likely to have truly "foodie" restaurants, but you are right that it's not really 'a thing' in the same way that it is in the States. I am a huge fan of Machene Yehuda/Yudeleh in Jerusalem because I think they have that approach - but it is not a very Israeli thing. Chakra in Jerusalem does a tasting...but I honestly can't think of other places that do. My favorite Tel Aviv restaurant is Nanuchka (http://www.telavivguide.net/Tel_Aviv_...) - perhaps just to give you an idea of the kinds of Israeli restaurants I appreciate.

                                      Also with tourists, just about everything 'high end' in Israel ends up being directed at tourists or people living/working in Israel who make US/European salaries. While in most pricier places you may hear a lot of non-Hebrew speakers, don't write it off necesarily as a tourist trap. Lots of these places thrive on various embassy employees or foreign business types who are here for a few years (if not longer). If anything, they'd be better people to ask about the Tel Aviv restaurants that you're interested in than an Israeli.

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        I think the other coast restaurant you are thinking of is Pini B'Chazer

                                        1. re: cresyd

                                          Thank you so much for that insight, cresyd!

                                          I have spoken with several friends, travelers, and our concierge at the American Colony in Jerusalem and have that week completely accounted for already, which I'm very excited about!

                                          We're eating at Scala, Chakra, Machneyuda, Adom... and I'm trying to decide between Arcadia and Cavalier for our final night. We may skip that altogether and just do a traditional Shabat dinner at the Inbal or Jerusalem Hotel, though I've asked our concierge for advice on this.

                                          As for Manta Ray, I had it on my list as a first night off the plane type of restaurant - just as you'd suggested! It would seem to be a casual and scenic meal in a lovely vibrant setting overlooking the beach and ocean, and just what we'd likely want after a long exhausting flight. I wouldn't be in the modd for high end dining or anything too fancy or fussy after 20+ hours in transit! If we decide to do this (we'll play it by year) then I suppose we'll cross Mul Yam off the list. I did read somewhere that it was supposed to be one of the better seafood restaurants in Israel, alongside Uri Buri, which we're eating at in Akko. The Mediterranean offers an entirely different array of culinary treats than the Pacific West Coast, and so we are very much looking forward to freshly caught and immaculately prepared fish and seafood with all the flavors and spices of the Middle East! For our Saturday night dinner, I'm leaning towards Cordelia or Herbet Samuel. On Tripadvisor (taken with a grain of salt!) the restaurant Bertie seems to be rated at #1 in Tel Aviv, but appears to be more of a small plates/tapas bistro style eatery.

                                          Anyways, thanks so much again for your help and input - it's very much appreciated! I cannot wait to take off for this month-long dream vacation!!!

                                          1. re: OliverB

                                            I've never eaten at Cavalier or Arcadia - so no thoughts on that. When I go by Arcadia it's mostly to go to the best Ethiopian restaurant in all of Jerusalem (that's currently open). So no specific help there (though the Ethiopian place is amazing).

                                            Personally, I would strongly recommend against the hotel meals - shabbat or otherwise - unless you're going for breakfast. It's just buffet food. Good buffet food in lots of cases, but buffet food. Breakfast on the other hand is a sight to behold. You won't get the same experience in the American Colony (because it's not Jewish Israeli) - but I have also heard wonderful things about their breakfasts as well. In general, this is a region that does morning eating very well.

                                            The Jerusalem Hotel, however - is not a Palestinian restaurant and Friday night you definitely need reservations because they have live music. It's a great time and very good Palestinian/Middle Eastern food (mezze, kebabs, etc). Go with the obvious and do not order anything pasta or Western sounding. It's not the world's greatest food, but it is very good (excellent lentil soup, fattoush, nice meat) - and the atmosphere on Fridays makes up for it. The restaurant at the Legacy Hotel is nicer food and has great views, but the Jerusalem Hotel is a much better vibe.

                                            And a final recommendation for the American Colony Hotel - if you ever order afternoon coffee/tea in the lobby of the hotel (and not in the outdoor cafes) - it comes with amazing complimentary fresh baked cookies. I work near there and do a bunch of meetings, and it's my favorite part.

                                            1. re: OliverB

                                              Choose Hebert Samuel for your Saturday Night dinner, you won't be disappointed.
                                              For Fish/Sea food in Tel Aviv my choices are Manta Ray and Shila which has more of an upbeat, young atmosphere to it with a great bar. Manta Ray has the great seaside location.

                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                Arcadia is an amazing restaurant. However a few years ago they moved to a fixed price menu with just too much food in my opinion.Cavalier is a great restaurant. I think that Arcadia is more representative of Israeli Mediterranean Fusion and in that case a better choice for your visit here.

                                                1. re: israeladventure

                                                  Question about Cavalier - is that the place on HaNevi'im? And is it still open?

                                              2. re: cresyd

                                                Do you live in Jerusalem, cresyd?

                                                Btw, we will try to have lunch at Nanuchka on our final day; I have it listed on our itinerary! ;)

                                                1. re: OliverB

                                                  Nanuchka is a dinner destination with DJ music starting at 10:00 PM & dancing on the bar. Not to be missed!

                                      2. I strongly strongly recommend Mizlala in Tel Aviv, I ate there recently and it blew me away. As someone on a limited budget is it one of the only more pricy restaurants that it is really worth it for me to go to (um let me know if you want company anywhere! only sort of kidding). I would skip max brenner, the chocolate stuff is bad and the food is pretty mediocre, you'd be better off going for a sabich somwhere. I also think Cafe Suzanna is pretty mediocre, although the location is lovely. In the carmel market, about half way through there is a stand that sells kebabs and other meat that they put in a pita, it is on your right if you are coming from the main entrance, and it is quite delicious... I think there is nowhere to sit there.

                                        1. Thank SO much for all the help, guys!!!

                                          We are now finally in your beautiful city and had a truly sublime first night. Despite a grueling 14 hour flight, layovers, and no sleep for 2 days straight, we arrived yesterday afternoon, tired but feeling wonderful! We walked along the beach from our hotel towards Manta Ray for our first dinner, but in a sort of serendipitous change of tides, decided to leave because they could only offer us indoor seating. I'm very thankful we did! I must say, that for a seafood/fish restaurant, the place smelled terribly fishy and anything but fresh! As soon as we entered the dining room it smelled like a Cambodian fish market; really unbearable! Extreme fatigue (exhaustion really!) and hunger started to set in, and I'm sure we would have accepted an outdoor table nonetheless had it been offered - I'm glad that wasn't the case! Instead, we hopped a cab to Port 24 and had the most wonderful meal we've had in a long time! I had a an appetizer of ravioli made from sea scallops and stuffed with shrimp over a lobster velouté, and lobster cooked sous-vide on a tartuffe of porcini cream with wild mushrooms and honey-thyme foam - absolutely heavenly! My girlfriend started with an app of grilled scampi or prawns on forbidden rice with some sort of delicate hazelnut cream (outstanding!) and an entrée of grilled scallops with white asparagus gratin and lime-thyme foam. We shared a bottle of Chablis and tasted several complimentary Israeli wines from some of the smaller and less mainstream producers which was quite interesting, courtesy of the fabulous and very informative sommelier who told us a lot (and in great detail) about the different varietals, production, and regions of Israel. We ended the perfect meal with the equally perfect and wholly divine Turkish Sting; a mascarpone cream with rustic apricots, pistachios, and a kadaif nest. It was out of this world! We also nibbled on some homemade chocolate, cashew, pistachio, and grapefruit Campari flavoured macaroons. This was truly one of the most amazing dinner experienced in a long time and a tremendous start for our 3-week vacation! After dinner we walked along the port (past 11pm and still bustling and alive with all ages!) and went for a midnight swim in the sea across from our hotel. I'm amazed at the vibrancy of nightlife in Tel Aviv, it's really wonderful to see so many people active and savoring life; not like back home! Anyways, I'm typing this on my iPhone from our hotel bed, jet lagged but unable to sleep. Today we plan to hit the falafel and hummus stalls which I'm very excited for! I'll be sure to post more feedback as our trip continues. For those reading this as a basis for planning their own itineraries, I'm afraid I must disagree with the recommendations for Manta Ray. Yes the beach is lovely, but you can access any number of great restaurants walking along the shore. The decor itself is quite bland and the food seemed neither fresh nor interesting or creative. It seemed to cater mostly to tourists and the beach crowd. Mul Yam on the other hand, was seasonal, fresh, inspired, and perfectly flawless! The dining room itself was quite nice, and right on the pier with a view of the ocean. While our meal was quite expensive (a little over 1,000 shekels or $300 for two with wine) it was worth every cent!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: OliverB

                                            Too bad that the place smelled....this time of year having the a/c pumping can really be the difference with how a place feels. Either way, sounds like everything worked out! And yes, Pini B'Chazer is the restaurant near Manta Ray that I really like/recommend. Brilliant mezze, local food flavors.

                                            Though just to warn you, lots of places on your list (especially in Jerusalem - and Scala in particular) will seem like they appeal to tourists - which isn't always entirely the case. Manta Ray is very popular with a large chunk of the foreign NGO crowd based in the Gaza Strip when they go there for the weekend. Zuni in Jerusalem has a reputation for being 'very American' because it's a favorite place by the people at the American Consulate. Not exactly tourists, not exactly locals.

                                            Since 2005, food prices in Israel have increased annually at a terrify rate - so the only way to really survive as a fine dining restaurant is to make sure that there's a reliable stream of foreign dollars.

                                          2. Silly me, I neglected to mention the name of the restaurant last night: MUL YAM!

                                            1. I'm headed to Tel Aviv in 2 weeks and would be keen to hear what your favorite spots were - I am interested in the same sort of thing - local-y food as I can get great Italian, Spanish etc. where I live.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cbell167

                                                My favorites are Habasta and Haminzar, although the latter only for lunch, as it can get quite rowdy in the evenings (it's open 24/7). Tchernikhovsky 6 and Bertie are also quite good. I haven't been to Oasis yet.
                                                Toto and Shila both have very good food, but both are too noisy for me.