Here’s a tour option for those who want to ‘taste’ the culture! All across Israel, you’ll find a myriad of cuisines, each with a great number of tasty dishes that speak of the country’s culture and history. It’s really easy finding popular spots with hearty meals that you simply must try, as they’re on every turn in every city, town, and village in Israel, but here are some of our recommendations for culinary hotspots to visit.
There’s a great number of places where you can have traditional and modernized Israeli dishes. Israeli cuisine often combines traditional Jewish foods and those that Jewish diaspora has brought. It’s geographically Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, with added yummy influences from Europe, Asia, and Africa. It’s also very healthy, while vegetarian and vegan options are abundant. You can find the best of olive oil, fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices here. To put it all in one word: finger-licking.
How about some hummus and tahini, kebab or shawarma, some amazing Israeli bread, and a salad of course? And definitely end your meal with a mouthwatering Malabi, or another dessert or sweet. You don’t need to visit a specific restaurant to eat any of the famous dishes, as street food is very popular, offering snacks and foods from across the world. For those of you who’d like to have fish for dinner, how about driving to the Mediterranean city of Caesarea? Here, you can sit in a lovely restaurant and have a hearty Israeli seafood meal.
Let’s take a look at some places across Israel that’ll make you and your stomach very happy.
Tel Aviv’s Thousand Cuisines
Though their exact number can’t be known, whether you’re into traditional or international, pricier or cheaper, Tel Aviv has a cuisine for you. For example, you can visit the popular Port Said restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Eyal Shani. There’s some delicious, modern middle-eastern food for you to enjoy, along with great music and Hipster atmosphere.
And you simply must go to the open markets (shuks), such as Shuk HaCarmel and Shuk Hatikva! There’s a myriad of food options here from all corners of the globe. Even if you aren’t hungry when you come, as soon as you enter a fragrant shuk, you’ll want to taste it all, be it fish, meat, sausages, cheese, spices of all sorts, most flavorful fruits and veggies, and lip-smacking sweets and desserts.
And finally, if you’d like to try traditional Eastern European Jewish food, such as kugel, gefilte fish and cholent, the ultra-orthodox city of Bney Brak, near Tel Aviv, is a great place to do so on Thursday nights.
Nazareth’s Modern Arabic Dishes
If you’re in Nazareth, you’ll certainly be visiting a great number of important sites, but don’t forget that this city has some of the best Arabic restaurants, many of which make traditional dishes with a modern twist. Among these, you can visit El Taboun, Abu Ashraf, Tishreen, or Diana. Make sure to leave some room for fantastic Arabic desserts and pastries from local sweet shops. And, of course, don’t underestimate Nazareth’s markets either, with stalls upon stalls of olive oil, spices, and specialty food items.
Like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem will not disappoint any type of foodie visiting it. There’s just so much to eat here. But if we had to choose one place to recommend, it’d be the colorful and aromatic Mahane Yehuda Market. Pretty much anything you’d like to taste in Israel, and through the food learn of the region’s diverse culture, you can find here in its authentic and fresh form. Get some pastries and sweets from its amazing bakeries; try falafels, baklava, or halva; or have some healthy dried fruits at the stall. There’s a number of home-style restaurants that serve Israeli, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Persian, Iraqi, Romanian, Polish and many other ethnic dishes. Have a rest at a trendy restaurant or a quiet café, and continue your adventure through the market.
No, it’s really ‘desert’, not ‘dessert’. You’ll experience hospitality and community in the deserts like nowhere else. You can meet the local Bedouin tribes, celebrated for their hospitality and entertainment, learn about their culture and eat their delightful home-made food. Bedouin cuisine is a variant of traditional Middle Eastern food, commonly kosher. The food is meant to be shared, with the dishes placed in the center of people sitting in a tent or under the starry sky. Make sure to try famed Bedouin coffee or Bedouin tea. Also, in the Arava, you can visit the Porat Apiary and taste local honey, and Arava’s oldest kibbutz, Yotvata, famous for its agricultural and dairy tour. You get to make and eat ice cream and taste the famous chocolate milk.
Traveling through Israel, having a spoon-full from each of its many kitchens – from traditional, over ethnic, to modern twists and international – is a joyful and unique experience. There’s simply no better trip for the foodies among us. So, welcome to Israel and, as it’s said in Hebrew, beteavon!