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Sep 4, 2013 11:49 AM

jerusalem restaurants

Similar to my tel aviv question!

We will be in Jerusalem at the end of Oct. and can use help narrowing down my restaurants. We love good food; I don’t eat meat or poultry but do eat fish and seafood. Husband eats anything.

Would like to experience different kinds of restaurants-don’t want to eat in the same atmosphere and same menu each night. We have 4 nights, one being a Friday, and another seeing the 7pm light show with Masada/Dead Sea day trip next morning.

Looking at Machneyuda, Adom, Mona, Scala,Dolphin Yam. What should I add/eliminate? Suggestions on order welcome also. We are staying at the Harmony 6 Yoel Moshe Salomon St, in the Nahalat Shiva neighborhood. Walking distance is a definite plus not required. Thanks!

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  1. Machaneyuda is atrociously loud, and you have to book a good two weeks in advance. Scala is terrible. Dolphin Yam is mediocre. Mona is ok, as is Zuni, across the street your hotel. Not too far away is Chakra, and a Korean restaurant called Dae Jang Geum, which are both pretty good.

    7 Replies
    1. re: bcc

      Dito on Korean :-) Cute place, food pretty nice and for sure not something common around..

      1. re: bcc

        Sorry about Scala!! I was thinking of another place with an Italian name, which is terrible. I don't know Scala.

        1. re: bcc

          Scala is a restaurant in the David Citadel. It's nice food, kosher - not my favorite place in the city - but a nice meal.

        2. re: bcc

          The Korean restaurant is closing on September 20th.

          1. re: bcc

            If you think that Korean cooking is good............

            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

              While it never ranked as the best Korean food I'd ever had, there were definitely certain dishes that I really enjoyed. And it was Korean food made by Koreans - which in the Jerusalem culinary landscape made is incredibly unique.

              I'm not sure it was ever a restaurant I would have recommended for tourists (especially those from parts of the world with accessibly Korean restaurants), but for someone living in Jerusalem for years, the variety it brought was very appreciated. Also, for the area's Korean community (who largely live in Pisgat Zev) - it was very popular.

              I definitely had some clunker dishes, and the consistency wasn't uniform - but I think that phrase can be said about 90-99% of all restaurants in Jerusalem.

          2. A bit complicated :-) If i had to do a current list, there is a place called Turkiz in east Jerusalem St. George hotel, a lot of buzz lately, should be more traditional and interesting arab cooking, especially the firsts category, prices in dollars and cheap, should be great view there but probably quite cold at october, assuming place is open then and no rain i guess..
            Hasadna is a place i quite liked this year, but ownership changed (Machneyuda team took over) and have not been after the change.
            The place i surprisingly liked the most this year at Jerusalem - a kosher Italian restaurant called Topolino, some dishes like the fish risotto, very good in my opinion, very small place, must reserve, food a bit on the heavier side and more Sardinian traditional italian as far as i remember, still our preffered restaurant when in the city.
            Not the biggest fan of MachneY, but again many others see it as a special expirience with good food, i don't connect to it but maybe you will :-)

            10 Replies
            1. re: oferl

              Re Turkiz, the prices are in dollars yet it's cheap? Is that typical? I haven't been to Israel yet but is it common to have prices in dollars? And does one pay (cash or credit card) in dollars? Would appreciate your guidance as we're headed there from the US next year. Thanks.

              1. re: c oliver

                No, you pay in shekels (ILS). When you get to the airport, just change the minimal amount of money to get to where you are going. Then you can get much better rates at local money changers. Credit card charges are, I believe, also made in shekels.
                Prices in Israel are in general a good deal cheaper than in the US or in the wealthier parts of Europe.
                And be careful if someone asks to be paid in dollars; they are probably trying to rip you off. And always make sure that taxi drivers turn the meter on.

                1. re: bcc

                  Sorry, I was just asking why that particular restaurant has their prices listed in dollars rather than shekels. And wondering if that's common. Not something I've seen in other countries. Sometimes in rather high end stores, for instance leather and rug shops in Turkey. We actually have a credit card that reimburses up to $15/mo for ATM fees and a different one that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee so we can game the system pretty well :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Any place that lists their prices in dollars will take credit cards. And it's usually best practice to pay there with a credit card because if you ask them to convert the price to pay in shekels - that's where the rip off will happen.

                    And taxi drivers with the meters....that can be a double edged sword. If a taxi driver says he'll take you to X for Y amount and you say "no, give me the meter" - if you're obviously foreign you can easily end up with a slower ride and an even higher price. Unless you can give directions your best bet is actually to bargain the price before you get into the cab. Lived and learned.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      Here's a calculator where you can enter your address and your destination to get an idea of what the taxi fare should be, which will give you a stronger position to bargain from:

                      1. re: almond tree

                        That's interesting - in general for most tourists though, I think that negotiating price before getting in the taxi is the best idea, particularly if you're staying in the city center area. It's too easy to end up in a direction where the taxi driver can end up having to take forever and/or in bad traffic to get turned in the right way. Traffic in Jerusalem has become such a challenge, that unless it's after dark it's not hard to end up in bad traffic real fast.

                        1. re: cresyd

                          Agree with you on negotiating price before getting into the taxi. But in order to negotiate, it helps to have an idea of what approximately the price should be.
                          It won't help a tourist much if she proudly bargains a taxi driver down to a fare of 50 shekels for a restaurant that's 5 minutes away.

                2. re: c oliver

                  In East Jerusalem in the hotels it is not uncommon to see prices in dollars. It's not the norm, but there are more than a few places that do it.

                  For places that list the prices in dollars you can pay with a credit card (but most likely will have to tip in cash), in dollars or in shekels. I think that the pricing of any restaurant that lists their prices in dollars is overpriced (the American Colony in particular) - but they won't be ripping you off specifically. That's the set amount for the restaurant. If anything, asking them to do the conversion into shekels will result in getting ripped off.

                  1. re: cresyd

                    That's kinda what I was thinking. When we've seen this, it was usually at higher end places...which are generally the places where we prefer to eat. Thanks for the education. Every country/culture is different so it's nice to go in knowing a bit.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      In Jerusalem, it's usually limited to the East Jerusalem hotels and some places in the Old City - tourist "trap" and not. The American Colony, the Notre Dame, the Austrian Hospice (excellent rooftop view of the Old City and nice streusel) - all of these places charge in dollars. Generally speaking, they are more likely to be Church or Palestinian run.

              2. I guess to differ from other posters - I really like Machneyuda. It is on the noisy side, but I find it to be more fun than irritating. I believe that now Mona and Machenyuda are owned by the same people....either way the menus are very similarly structured. So if volume levels really bother you, then definitely go for Mona. I really like both - which on this board appears to be a difference of opinion. It is easier to get a reservation at Mona. Either way, both places have excellent seafood/veggie options. Sometimes Mona has a pasta with mushrooms and poached egg dish which I really like.

                My personal "no no no" is Zuni (which is very close to your hotel). Unless you're interested in US Consulate staff sightings. I find the food to be very mediocre, but it being open 24 hours a day and "very" not kosher is kind of its selling point. Basically if you sell bacon that's enough, no need to be more creative.

                In the area of your hotel, I really like Timol Shilshom as a cafe option (excellent rotating soup options) and Barood (near where Adom used to be). Barood is a fun mix of Ashkenazi and Mizrachi food. It is a nice mix of bar/restaurant - so it's a great place for a drink and some interesting small plates of food. I really like their pickled herring, dry fried lima beans, and salads.

                In the shuk itself one of my absolute favorites is Cafe Mizrachi, especially for breakfast/lunch.

                Adom recently moved from the City Center to the train station and from what I've heard the new space isn't as well liked as the old space. It is very meat heavy, though they do have fish/veggie options.

                For a great atmosphere experience, I highly recommend the rooftop bar of the Notre Dame. It's a bit pricey, but the food is nice and the view is amazing even just as a place to go to for drinks.

                4 Replies
                1. re: cresyd

                  Thanks! So do you agree that Dolphin Yam is mediocre?

                  And would you do either Mona or Macheyuda but not both?

                  Not really interested in Korean food. Or bacon. Imnot kosher but dont eat pork. Also, I dont need cheap, dont mind spending if its worthwhile.
                  We dont do planned sit down lunches so am mostly interested in dinner. Anything Im missing?

                  1. re: css

                    Yeah - if you go to Mona (or Machenyehudah) and really love it, then the menus change enough that there'd be different meal options. But if you really want different experiences - then they are fairly similar.

                    Dolphin Yam is one of those restaurants in the area that heavily targets tourists and is priced to match. I've never been, but it's not a place that ever really makes the list of "oh, I'd love to try there once". However, in that area - and very very good - is Cavalier ( Another interesting option would be Eucalyptus ( They've been around for a while but recently opened patio seating in the Sultan's Pool area (across from the Old City), which looks lovely but I've never been.

                  2. re: cresyd

                    I suppose cresyd is right about Zuni. It was better when it first opened. The last time we were there in the evening, some two years ago, it was disappointing, but last year we stopped in once for lunch. I had a hamburger, which was quite good. A week later I had a hamburger at Hotel Montefiore in Tel Aviv, which was inedible, so that experience put Zuni in an even better light.

                    1. re: bcc

                      I was once there with some different diplomats (still a very popular place among the consular staff), and a guy from the Egyptian Consulate ordered mussels. They came out with a live cockroach on the plate. When he told the waitress about the plate, she got really moody and said that these are things you just have to used to in the Middle East.

                      While I've found the food fine (aside from the cockroach incident), I've had some of the nastiest service there.

                  3. I second the recommendation for Topolino - unfortunately as Oferl said it's quite small and the fact that it's on a very noisy thoroughfare (now the main bus route through that part of the city) doesn't help in terms of atmosphere. But it's a short walk from where you're staying and worthwhile. Also consider Beit Anna Ticho, dairy-vegetarian and very nice IMHO. there is another Italian dairy restaurant not too far away but I am not remembering the name at the moment - will see if my better half can recall.

                    1. Mona is owned by the same chefs as Machneyuda and the food is not as good. Yes Machne is loud but the food is delicious, and a must stop for any foodie in Jerusalem. It is not as noisy if you go earlier.

                      Scala is very formal and unless you are kosher, I would take it off your list.

                      Adom is good food, good fun and a chance to see the train station complex.

                      I would add to your list Cavalier for a formal French style place very close to your hotel. One of the best meals I have had in Jerusalem. I also recommend Hatzot on Agrippas near the market - very casual, not formal, but a real Jerusalem grill restaurant which includes the traditional mix of salads.
                      Mamilla Rooftop is a good option if you want a nice dinner overlooking the old city.