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Three nights at a zimmer in Had Nes, southern Golan, Israel - will we starve at dinner?

  • j
  • jfk66 Oct 19, 2012 12:18 AM

In a previous chowhound discussion I saw that someone dismissed this area as a culinary wasteland. We are going up there during our trip to Israel for some hiking. Neither of our three guidebooks mention anything in this area, though perhaps our hosts will. I have no expectations except hearing about a place in Nimrod, which is not that close after a long day of hiking. Does anyone know of anything around there. There are lots of zimmers in the area so one would think there would be restaurants. We don't need anything fancy as we'll be in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for enough nights to get our fill of whatever we want (with much chowhound advice in hand).

The chowhound who was in the north did not come up this way. Chowhounds gave us great tips for Verona this summer so I'm hoping for more here since some people seem to live in Israel.

Thanks,
Janet

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  1. The North, and particularly the Golan does not have great reputations for dining. I'd more focus on maybe finding a local Druze restaurant or recommendations for locals for really simple food such as humus or shwarma places.

    In the zimmers it's really common for people to bring/prepare their own food. So just stay simple and local and if they try to recommend a 'really nice' place - say you want something more simple. Others may have recommendations for specific places, but it's not generally a region with a great reputation.

    35 Replies
    1. re: cresyd

      I'd seen your posts and hoped you would see this. I had a feeling that was the case with people bringing food. Druze sounds good, though we live in Jordan and eat much the same. I would rather eat simple Druze food than bad complicated food by far. My husband would love that idea. The zimmer boasts that the stonework is by Druze workmen so maybe we will luck out. Salads and kebabs will be fine. Thanks for the tip. I'm printing out the other huge discussion from August or around then to take with me. Those poor people had to travel in ISrael and Jordan in August when it was so hot. I was in Israel in March and the chowhound discussion was a little older. We didn't starve, though!

      1. re: jfk66

        Ah, if you're coming from Jordan than I suspect that the local food will be pretty similar. Nazareth, Akko, and Haifa have some places I enjoy - but that's going to be a bit of a drive from the Golan region just for dinner. In Tibereas the meat/kebab places are nice but not amazing. That being said, in general I would just have lowered expectations and be open to being pleasantly surprised.

        I will say that in Israel, common cafe items (at mostly Jewish but also Palestinian places) that I enjoy trying at different places are the omelette and halumi sandwiches. So if you go the simple cafe route - those would be items I'd recommend giving a try.

        1. re: cresyd

          We'll keep that in mind. We'll be looking for whatever looks a bit different.
          Thanks!

          One more thing: what do you recommend in Akko? I have heard mixed things about Uri Buri (sp) and I don't think I want such a production for lunch. My husband would probably want to sit by the water and is not picky after that, though I tend to be more so.

          1. re: jfk66

            I am personally not a fan of Uri Buri for a variety of reasons - but there are a number of small cafes literally right along the water (where there can be a splash zone), where you can give a mix of mezze and some nice seafood options. The specific place that I'm thinking of has outdoor eating and when it's warmer it's at part of the Old City where kids jump off the walls into the water (near where you can get boat trips). I don't remember the specific name, but there are a few places like that in Akko that are just along the water (and the food isn't so amazing that place A is so much more awesome than place B). Basically just find the spot with amount of sun and proximity to the water that you want.

            I think where the north gets most of its "meh" reputation is that for the most part the food is pretty similar from place to place. And when a place does try to be interesting/good, it's usually ranks as mediocre. El-Reda in Nazareth is really quite good, but depending where you are might be a bit of a drive.

            1. re: cresyd

              We might drive through Nazareth at some point and I'd seen a NY Times article saying Nazareth had good food. That sounds nice in Akko and might hit the spot. That's all we want. We used to go to someplace like that in Thessaloniki, Greece. More for the atmosphere than the food, which was the same everywhere at least on the water. We are living in a place of such similar restaurants that if one is just a tad better it gets our patronage. My husband is suspicious of guidebook recommendations after some bad experiences we had but chowhound led us to a restaurant in Verona that made him practically swoon. I will tell him this is where I got the recommendations from those who live there (and we might get a project in Israel, cross your fingers). My sister claims no food in Israel is that fabulous but she hasn't been there in a few years. I didn't go to the top of the top in March so I can't make such an evaluation. I thought some of the highly rated ones were not that wonderful, however, like Eucalyptus and Berties. Execution not as good as the description on the menu unfortunately. I had some good wine at the latter, however. I did have great hummus and shawarma, much much better than in Jordan. No comparison and they have many versions from around the region at least for hummus. Can't wait to introduce my husband to it.

              1. re: jfk66

                Menu fatigue is the greatest issue with this region. I'm based in Jerusalem and more familiar with the food scene here. And while I have places that I recommend and really like, I think the biggest problem here is that after a while "everything is the same". Places like Chakra and Machenyehudah are really excellent, but as someone from a generic large midwestern city, the variety here is the greatest issue.

                There's a Korean restaurant in Jerusalem that's run by a family that's part of the evangelical Korean community here - and while it's not the best Korean food I've ever had - it's so different from every other restaurant around here that it's one of my favorites. Tel Aviv though definitely has the best restaurants in the region in terms of both quality and variety.

                1. re: cresyd

                  We went with a huge group in Kabul to a Korean restaurant like that. We were dying for something different. I was planning on going to Chakra but some people HATED Machenyehudah. I thought maybe it was a little too chichi for my hubby. I love that market and thought just going there would be fun enough. This was on Tripadvisor that I saw the negative reviews, by the way. One doesn't always get views of people who think the same about food, though, on that web site. They whine about goofy things and it's hard to get a real picture sometimes.

                  1. re: jfk66

                    Machenyehudah is on the trendy side attitude wise. It has great food, but if that kind of trendy attitude is really off-putting then that would be a downer. Across the street from Machenyehuda is a place called Yeudeleh which is a tapas/bar owned by the same people. It has even more of the trendy attitude, but it's also a bit cheaper.

                    In the shuk, I really like Cafe Mizrachi for a more low key eating environment and really great usage of the food from the shuk. Over the past 5 years in particular a lot of restaurants have opened in the shuk which always leads to some being great and some being more average. Azure in the shuk is also excellent.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      Azure was one of my faves in the shuk, but they were not open in the evening. We used them for take out on Shabbot though.

                      1. re: cresyd

                        Another question about restaurants in Jerusalem, since you know: I did notice that a lot of the restaurants I'm considering do have that Mediterranean menu. Do you know a Kurdish restaurant that isn't too downscale and is open for dinner? I remember reading about one but can't find the information. I guess that would be Middle Eastern but different than the usual that we have been eating. We could slip that in between all that other food. Believe me, fish and beef are a big deal to us in any form so those so called Mediterranean menus look good to us. Or something else kind of different. I think we'll skip Asian in Jerusalem. I've been to Eucalyptus, so-so.

                        1. re: jfk66

                          Imma's the location in the shuk is open evenings but not too late, and has a limited menu, the other location is open later.
                          http://www.fodors.com/world/africa-an...

                          1. re: chazzer

                            This must have been what I'd seen. I have Fodor's but I have other guidebooks that are newer and used chowhound so I stopped referring to it. Thank you!

                          2. re: jfk66

                            First - definitely skip Asian in Jerusalem. I eat it because I'm here not because I strongly recommend it :).

                            I'm not very familiar with Kurdish options in Jerusalem, but there are two Georgian places that fall into the Russian/Middle Eastern mix. Kangaroo (rather difficult to find) and a place on Havatzelet (name escapes me - but this is the better one) both have pretty nice food. However, Nanushkah in Tel Aviv is "the" Georgian restaurant in the region though.

                            Another different kind of food would be Ethiopian. In Jerusalem the place I strongly recommend (for food much more so than atmosphere) is in an alley between Agrippas Street and Yaffo. It's named Shegar and is in the same alley as a restaurant called Arcadia (a far better landmark). This is a great place to get the vegetarian sampler and another meat dish to share. It's very hole in the wall, but excellent food.

                            1. re: cresyd

                              Cresyd, when we were there this summer, we tried to eat at Shegar and never found it open.

                              1. re: chazzer

                                I was there 2-3 weeks ago, so I can confirm that they're still open. They have have just taken an extended summer vacation.

                              2. re: cresyd

                                We lived in the Caucasus and Russia so we'll skip Georgian. We've had our fill and I was just in Georgia in February. Also, normally live in DC, which is rife with Ethiopian. Good to know, though, if we end up there. Always good for a change.
                                What is the best supermarket in Jerusalem now that I know you both are awake and online? We might buy some items to take back with us to Jordan and the supermarket in Eilat we usually stop at is not that great. I notice all the labels are in Hebrew,though, which isn't the case in Jordan most of the time. We will hit Jerusalem for a day or so on our way back south.
                                This has been an amazing discussion--I do hope we get our assignment there. Part of our trip will be checking out living there but it's a bid on a contract and out of our hands.

                                1. re: jfk66

                                  Not living there and only visiting it is hard for me to answer, but I think a trip to the Jerusalem Kanyon would be a good idea for shopping. I believe they have a food store there.

                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malha_Mall

                                  Also going to the shuck would be a good idea, bring back some of the chocolate rugelach from marzipan, also there is a small store that sells Asian ingredients across on Agrippas

                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahane_Y...

                                  1. re: jfk66

                                    Supermarket recommendation in Jerusalem is a bit tricky depending on what you want. Generically speaking, I think SuperSol (either the location at Paris Square on Agron (near the American Consulate) or the larger location in Talpiot) is the best. I find SuperSol to be the best in terms of generic selection. RamiLev (also located in Tapiot) is the cheapest/bulk oriented grocery store, but I never shop there and am not as familiar with those locations.

                                    What specific items are you looking for from the grocery store? If you can generalize that for me, I will probably be able to give you better recommendations.

                                    1. re: cresyd

                                      It is amazing how much nicer the SuperSol in Jerusalem is compared to the one in Queens.

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        The Supersol (or, as it has been renamed, Shufershal) on Agron is conveniently located but expensive. Shufershal Deal on Pierre Koenig Street in Talpiot is cheaper and is right across the street from the very helpful organization of Americans & Canadians in Israel. I do my grocery shopping at another Shufershal Deal in the Lev Talpiot Kenyon (Mall), which is big, nice and clean, but a bit out of the way.
                                        Rami Levy is cheap, but IMO doesn't have a great selection & I find the aisles too small to push a cart comfortably in. Disclaimer: It is a chain & I have not checked out all branches.

                                        1. re: almond tree

                                          We're looking for this particular cholesterol lowering margarine and other items now I can't remember. Selection is more important than price. You might find it expensive for everyday use but for our one time. Oh, I remember--any kind of American type products for Thanksgiving like canned pumpkin or frozen cranberries. Are those available in Jerusalem? I can get canned cranberry sauce and dried cranberries in Aqaba but I would have to go to Amman for pumpkin and I probably won't be doing that before Thanksgiving.
                                          I might check in Tel Aviv, too.

                                          1. re: jfk66

                                            Canned pumpkin is, I believe. I can check for frozen cranberries when I go shopping this week.
                                            There are lots of American products at Cheaper Kol, on Canfei Nesharim Street on the border of the Givat Shaul and Har Nof neighborhoods. Also (tho a more limited selection) at the SOS chain of 24 hour stores with branches on Keren Hayesod St in the center of town, on Emek Refaim & Halamed Hei.

                                            1. re: almond tree

                                              I'll look for the Cheaper Kol. I once brought a bag of frozen cranberries in my suitcase to Russia from DC. I refroze them and they were fine.

                                            2. re: jfk66

                                              Canned cranberry and canned pumpkin are pretty easy to find in Jerusalem. The location on Agron (pardon me for my butchered English spelling) has both items, and I also believe they have frozen cranberries. As its the main grocery store near the American Consulate, it's pretty easy to find those items. Also, as far as grocery stores goes, I don't find the Agron location so expensive for Israel grocery store shopping. Also, depending on the items you're looking for - there's a new grocery store in Wadi Joz (near the Hebrew University Mount Scopus campus) that's pretty amazing.

                                              One year in Dublin, I know of someone who went directly to the American Embassy to ask about canned pumpkin and was able to get the cans there for free. Have no clue about that possibility in Jerusalem.

                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                Is Agron the SuperSol you were talking about? I can't believe everyone is still up tonight. I'm going to bed. You guys are an hour later, I think, as we're still on a form of DST. I used to order turkeys through the American Embassy but they weren't free and one year they gave mine away in Armenia. They gave me two smaller ones, which was okay as it turned out. We'll continue this discussion later but I leave for Israel Wed. morning. We walk over the border and rent a car in Eilat. We'll have internet most places and a tablet.

                                                1. re: jfk66

                                                  Yeah, the Agron store is the SuperSol (or however it's now spelled in English). I find it easy to access (there's a parking lot nearby and if you don't have a car they can also deliver your groceries), and ultimately the prices aren't so bad. I think like many parts of the non-US world, one-stop shopping in Israel is never the cheapest way to do it. However for convenience of dried goods, I'd recommend them. In the Ramat Aviv mall (just to the north of Tel Aviv) is actually my favorite location of theirs - but it's largely the same.

                                                  Also - depending on where you are, canned pumpkin and canned cranberry sauce can be found in many Jerusalem small markets in areas where there are lots of Americans. So small markets on Azza Street, Emek Refaim, and in the city center will have those products. If it's a market where you see them selling Gatorade, it's fair to assume that those items will also be there.

                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                    Yes, in Jordan, just for selection I go to several stores. But even in the US I find myself shlepping around for what I want. Someone who lives there is going to take us around and I'll ask him, if we haven't found this before we leave.

                                                    This has been informative. I saw a blog where in 2010 someone complained about no bagels and lox in Israel and I've seen it. You can even get bagels in Amman and Phila. cream cheese, along with smoked salmon here in Aqaba. Of course they don't know bagels are Jewish, probably just think they are American.

                                                    1. re: jfk66

                                                      You can definitely get lox and cream cheese (or other soft white cheese spreads that work just as well) here - however the bagel issue is dubious. I actually think the Palestinian ka'ak is far more similar to a bagel than anything sold in a Jerusalem "bagel" store. But, such is the case with personal preferences.

                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                        I found bagels in the supermarket in Eilat but we never ended up eating them. We froze them and then threw them out. They looked okay. We had bagels in a bagel cafe on Dizengoff (sp) near the mall in Tel Aviv that were good, huge. They had a large selection of cream cheese spreads, too. Is Tel Aviv a different world from Jerusalem?

                                                        1. re: jfk66

                                                          I think it depends on what you want in a bagel. But the boiled/baked chewy bagels that I like from the US, I've never had anywhere in Israel. They're more or less very nice bread rolls.

                                                          But to your last question - in many ways, yes, Tel Aviv is a completely different world than Jerusalem.

                                                2. re: cresyd

                                                  We are back and I did find frozen cranberries in Tel Aviv but they were a little too hard to transport and I had to dispose of them. They were leaking all over. We never ended up in those neighborhoods where you mentioned pumpkin but every time I passed any kind of grocery store I went in and checked anyway. As it turned out, we are going to Amman next week where I hope to get it.
                                                  Re restaurants: We had very good meals at Adom and Chakra in Jerusalem. My husband had a mussels starter at Adom, our first meal and which set him off on a mussels frenzy after that. The mussels had basil and cream, with a definite flavor that one often does not find in mussel broth. He also started on his hamburger kick. He loved both. I had a salmon carpaccio and a fish on polenta, not exactly like Italy but good. The string beans were a bit salty but overall a very good meal. I also had the cocktail du jour that I liked a lot, with some sort of campari like base.
                                                  The next night we went to Lavan because it was close to our hotel and I know it is owned by the same people as Adom. I just had soup and salad (both good) but everything was huge. My husband was still on his hamburger kick after being deprived for months. The last night, a Friday night, we went to Chakra and had to sit at the bar but it was worth it. I was already overstuffed and only ordered one of the special main courses without a starter, grilled mixed seafood and couldn't finish it. I think it could have used a bit more spicing but everything was cooked well. My husband ate mussels again (he's Dutch and missed them badly). The people from Philadelphia who sat next to us were raving about the food as we sat down. They accidentally gave us the cauliflower starter after I had changed my mind during the ordering process and didn't charge us for it. Of course I ate it as it was absolutely fabulous with lemon and olive oil. I couldn't stop.

                                                  In Tel Aviv, we ate at Shila's and I ate two of the medium size plates, one of a fish carpaccio with grapefruit and one of seafood risotto. The risotto was good but I think I would have preferred something a bit lighter. My husband is not a fish person unless it's tuna or swordfish so he had a tuna tartar salad. I think he prefers his tartar unmixed into salad. He also had a steak, which again was huge.
                                                  We just ate in the neighborhood the next night as we were too tired to make a big deal out of dinner. We ate at Olives, a cafe on Bograshav St. and had a pleasant meal. I had a chicken and bulgur salad. Salads don't mean dietetic as they are huge or have a half a pound of cheese on them. A little bread will be one of those huge foccacia like loaves one can't resist. Luckily we did some hiking but we learned not to order starters.

                                                  My husband is the biggest fan of Israel it has lots of Belgian and other good local beer and great hamburgers. He also loves to hike and saw many wadis in the south that enticed him to come back. We filled up a suitcase with Belgian beer we bought in shops around Mahane market. He did not like some of the hummus, calling it slimy and the very spicy sauce on the sandwiches at Miznon or something killed his kishkes. He was not well that night. I had no problems but I didn't really eat the hot sauce or the lamb kebab sandwich he had. I loved their cauliflower, also, and so did Gregory. He wants me to duplicate it.

                                                  I think I ate even better than I ate in March thanks to everyone and their suggestions. We hope to go back when we can. I didn't get to try the Yemeni restaurant and I'd go back to Chakra to try other dishes. You are right about certain bagels. I brought some back from the Eilat supermarket and they are like dinner rolls. I had better in Tel Aviv in March. I don't know how people stay thin in Israel except by eating at home. The portions at restaurants are ridiculous. Prices are high when on the dollar but one certainly gets value in that sense. Oh, and we ate at the Jerusalem restaurant since we might end up in East Jerusalem. Feh! That was one my husband picked and he regretted it. Nice surroundings but it was like banquet food. Their signature chicken dish had absolutely no seasoning and though hypothetically stuffed with mushrooms, no discernible mushroom flavor. Gregory had overcooked lamb chops with undercooked zucchini on the side like an airplane meal. We had a better meal at Philadelphia which was almost totally empty. It was homey tasty food at least.

                                                  1. re: jfk66

                                                    In East Jerusalem, I really recommend Al-Zahrah should you be there again. If by the Jerusalem restaurant you mean the restaurant in the Jerusalem Hotel - that is far better for ambiance than eating.

                                                    And it is so true about the portion sizes served at restaurants. Absolutely enormous.

                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                      Could Al Zahrah be the Philadelphia restaurant? It is on that street. They have a little garden/courtyard.

                                                      1. re: jfk66

                                                        Possibly - I've never heard of it referred to as the Philadelphia restaurant - but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. A number of things around here can have multiple names.

                                                        If you end up spending a while here - there is a truly amazing restaurant in Birzeit (just outside of Ramallah) for Palestinian food. Iffy service - but pretty standard for service in the region.

                                                3. re: jfk66

                                                  I saw frozen cranberries at Shufershal Deal on Pierre Koenig Street in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood. It is across the street from AACI, an extemely helpful organization for English speakers in Israel. AACI is hosting an American style Thanksgiving luncheon on Wed. Nov. 21, under the auspices of their Retired Active Persons program but open to all. http://www.aaci.org.il/articlenav.php...

                    2. Will you have a car?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: chazzer

                        Yes.

                        1. re: jfk66

                          You will be about a twenty min. drive from Qatsrin, when we were in the Golan this summer we went to a Brew Pub there that was pretty good. They were not kosher and opened on Friday evening, there were also a number of other places there but most were closed for Shabbat.

                          http://www.beergolan.co.il/english_ma...

                          We stayed at Merom Galom which is about a 1/2 hour from where you will be, the restaurant there was also good. As, cresyd recommended the druze restaurants were good, but I am not sure they stay open into the evening.

                          http://www.rest.co.il/sites/Default.a...

                          In a pinch the sandwiches at the gas stations are better then they have any right to be and saved us more then once.

                          1. re: chazzer

                            The brewpub sounds like a good idea. I saved an article about beer brewed in Israel. We won't be there over Shabbat but midweek. Kosher is not an issue either. I might have to be the designated driver, however.

                            this is the link to the article and they also have a picture of the Golan Brew Pub. http://www.hadassahmagazine.org/site/...

                            My sister signed me up for a lifetime membership to Hadassah when she doesn't even go to anything herself and I live overseas. The magazine has good travel articles for Israel, however.

                            1. re: jfk66

                              We were not only in the Golan over Shabbat, but it was Shabbot going into Tisha B'Av hence the gas station sandwiches.

                              1. re: chazzer

                                I read that people want another day off in the week in Israel besides Shabbot since almost all holidays are religious holidays and they can't get anything done. We get all of Friday and Sat. off here in Jordan and things are open on Fridays or at least a lot of things are. We will be Friday nights in Jerusalem but traveling on Saturdays to Tel Aviv and to Masada so we should be okay.

                      2. We just came back from that area. There is a very decent place in Moshav Ramot, not far from where you'll be.
                        http://mushbutz.rest-e.co.il/
                        Also, if you travel to the northern Golan you should check out the very quirky but yummy restaurant called the Witch and the Milkman. I think this is the place in Nimrod you mentioned. We went for a late lunch directly after hiking nearby in the morning. I wouldn't recommend driving there in the dark anyway, the roads in that area are dark, windy and steep.
                        Check out Hula Agamon, amazing birding at this time of year. We saw hundreds of heron and egrets and storks and even a few bright blue kingfishers.
                        Enjoy!