Chef Micah Wexler’s food at Mezze, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in Los Angeles, is full of Israeli, Jewish, and Middle Eastern influences inspired by his family and travels to the regions. “I love Israel because of the history of the food and ingredients—foods from the Bible that have literally been around forever, meshed with Eastern European, Arabic, and modern influences,” says Wexler. Here the chef shares highlights from his recent trip to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Machneyuda “Yossi El-ad, one of the three chef-owners of this restaurant, is a close friend. His restaurant is situated next to the biggest open-air market in Israel and I think the food he is cooking is changing the way Israelis eat. The menu is written on a big board each day and is based on ingredients that the chefs find at the nearby market. It’s always changing. You might see sea bass on fresh buffalo yogurt; purple goose livers; and always lots of salads. 10 Beit Ya’akov St., Jerusalem, 97/(2) 25-33-3442; 2eat.co.il
Wild Zatar “I always seek out wild zatar when I’m in Israel. It grows in and around the hills of Jerusalem and is the most prevalent spice in the region. I incorporate it into many of my dishes at Mezze, such as the wood-oven Cornish hen with zatar and natural jus.”
Levinsky Market in Tel-Aviv “This market has an array of spices and ingredients—such as pickles and herring—and artisanal products from Turkey, Romania, and Greece. I love halva—a sesame candy—and I know I will always be able to find it here.” Levinsky Street (Starting at Haaliya St.), Tel Aviv
Al Babour “My mezze-eating experience at this traditional Palestinian/Arab restaurant guides the dining experience at my restaurant Mezze. You don’t order at the restaurant. The staff just brings out about 25 cold and hot mezze—small plates—to the table. The restaurant is in the Arab village of Umm al-Fahm, and it truly showcases the best Arab hospitality. One time the waiter wrapped the lamb chop bone in a napkin just to hand it to me.” Ein Ibrahim Jct., Umm al-Fahm, 97/(2) 46-11-0691