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best kunefe and authentic middle eastern food in israel.

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I will be traveling to israel in a couple of weeks and I'm seeking out some of the best kunefe and authentic middle eastern food. I will be staying in Tel Aviv so ideally I would be looking for places in that area but I'm definitely up for traveling to somewhere if it's really special.
I would also like to know if it would be worth going to nablus for the kunefe. I have heard nablus has some of the best in israel. If it really is that good there some recommendations would be much appreciated.

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  1. Nablus has the best knafe in the region. In the old city of Nablus there are a number of truly excellent places - and it just does not compare to any other that I've tried. However, traveling there from Tel Aviv may be quite challenging for just having knafe.

    You will need to arrange for a driver/guide willing/able to go into Area A of the West Bank who's also able to be in Israel. Technically this means contacting a Palestinian taxi company and having a non-Jewish driver who has Israeli citizenship or Jerusalem residency. This is especially critical for leaving Nablus as essentially all taxis in Nablus will not be able to return you to Tel Aviv.

    If the details of this sound a bit much for knafe - then Jerusalem's Old City in the Arab quarter has a few ok places. They really don't rate to Nablus though, and there's nothing in Tel Aviv I'd recommend as being special. Nazareth has a fairly nice version of knafe and is in Israel and would be another option (easier travel arrangements). If you're based in Tel Aviv and thinking of traveling - I'd find a city/area that you also would find the most interesting to visit.

    10 Replies
    1. re: cresyd

      Is it not possible to drive from Tel Aviv to Nablus or take a bus? I will be renting a car.
      What is your favorite place for kunefe in Nablus? Also if you could recommend some places for great traditional arabic cousin in Nablus or elsewhere in Israel it would be much appreciated.

      1. re: unamuno200

        If you're renting a car then things are definitely easier. I wouldn't recommend a bus just because the travel time required (as they're Palestinian buses) will be quite high.

        My favorite place for knafeh in Nablus is in the old city. There's an area of a number of places - but the name of the "very famous" place I'm blanking on. They are so popular the times I've been there, people are just waiting for the fresh trays to come out and all the orders are gone almost immediately. But definitely go into the old city - their markets are really fascinating. The last time I was there was during thistle season and the varieties they had were amazing.

        And what do you mean exactly by 'traditional Arabic cousin'?

        1. re: cresyd

          Basically what I mean is authentic Arabic food.

          1. re: unamuno200

            Ah - Hosh Al-Elleeya is Birzeit/Ramallah has some of the best Arabic/Palestinian food I've ever tasted. They have some dishes more associated with Gaza (much spicier), and just way more than the typical grilled options. In Nazareth - Alreda - though a bit pricey is truly excellent. For more of the standard grilled meat and salads, I really like the Tent Restaurant (http://tent.ps/) and in the summer for more of a club vibe Snowbar in Ramallah is great.

            In Jerusalem, I think that the Jerusalem Hotel is an attractive place to go - but not necessarily the best food (though very good value). I prefer the Philadelphia Restaurant (in East Jerusalem on A-Zahra street - sometimes referred to as A-Zahra) for food though.

          2. re: cresyd

            Have you heard of or been to Heluwiat Abu Salha and Arafat sweets in Nablus? If so which would you say is better? Also have you been to Rak Knafeh between Haifa and Dalia El Carmel? If so, how would you say it compares to what is available in Nablus? I have heard that they make some of the best knafeh in Israel.

            1. re: unamuno200

              I prefer Heluwiat Abu Salha but both are very well liked.

              I have not been to Rak Knafeh. Dalia El Carmel is not a place I really enjoyed visiting. My experiences there have involved having vendors trying to rip me off more than anywhere else in the entire region.

              1. re: cresyd

                Thanks, I will definitely try to go to Heluwiat Abu Salha.

                Would you say it's safe for an American to drive from Tel Aviv to Nablus with a car with Israeli plates?

                1. re: unamuno200

                  I would say that it's safe.

                  I have both American and Israeli citizenship and regardless of travel warnings and Israeli law - I've been a number of times to Nablus and countless times into Area A. Just use standard tourist awareness tips that you'd keep in mind when traveling to any part of the world where poverty is at a slightly higher level.

        2. re: cresyd

          Thank you so much for your advice on kunefe. I am in israel now and i really had my heart set on going to nablus but people say it's not safe to go now because of earth day so i am going to go to jerusalem and nazareth to try their kunefe. Can you recommend any specific places for kunefe in nazareth and jerusalem?

          1. re: unamuno200

            Not really - I have to admit - what I've had in Jerusalem I think is ok. If you go down the main streets in the Arab quarter of the Old City - you can find some bakeries.

            What I've had in Nazareth I really did not like - though it may have just been where I went.

        3. Haven't had it in years, but there used to be some places in Jerusalem's Old City not too far from Damascus Gate that made fabulous kenafia.
          There's a place in Jaffa with two names (Abu Hassan/Ali Karawan) and two locations (Dolphin St/Shivtei Yisrael) that has excellent hummus.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bcc

            Have you ever had the knafeh in Nablus? It really is at a whole other level of quality. I've always found the versions made in Jerusalem to be too sweet.

            1. re: cresyd

              No, never had knafie in Nablus. And it's been years since I had it in Jerusalem. In those days I could eat a bowl of hummus and still have room for a plate of kenafia. These days, after the hummus ...