The Best Restaurants in Israel

The foods of Israel—from falafel on the street, to fish just caught from the Mediterranean, to a meal made by an internationally known chef—has one thing in common: Freshness. Israeli cuisine reflects its surroundings (date syrup-infused tahini, for instance). Rare is the traveler who returns home from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem lukewarm about the food.

Ha-Hagana Street, Acre, Israel
Housed in an Ottoman-era stone building beside an old lighthouse at the port of ‘Akko (Acre), Uri Buri restaurant has been serving fine fish and seafood for more than 30 years. Must-try dishes include salmon sashimi in soy sauce with wasabi sorbet, and a Thai fish chowder with coconut milk and basil leaves. Owner and chef Uri Jeremias has had a long-standing relationship with the sea: His first two jobs were as a diver and a fisherman. Jeremias also owns the Efendi Hotel nearby, as well as the ice cream parlor up the street from Uri Buri. So for dessert, stroll by and try some of the unique flavors on offer, such as date, cinnamon, and rose.
Beit Ya'akov St 10, Jerusalem, Israel
If you are looking for a quiet meal, this is not the place for you. But if you want mouth-watering, inventive food with attentive service and authentic Israeli hospitality, Machneyuda hits the spot. Situated in the iconic Jerusalem shuk, or marketplace, the restaurant is the brainchild of three acclaimed chefs: Yossi Elad, Assaf Granite, and Uri Navon. The kitchen showcases locally sourced ingredients prepared with modern creativity and classic techniques. The lively dining room is focused on creativity. For the restaurant’s signature dessert presentation, tables are covered with aluminum foil and covered with a dizzying variety of cakes, fruits, ice creams, and sweets.
Ha-Dolfin St 1, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
The original patriarch of this outfit sold hummus from a pushcart before opening the shop more than 40 years ago. His descendants make two or three big batches every day, which they serve from 8 a.m. until they run out, usually around 3 p.m. You can’t make reservations, and you should except a crowd, but the taste is well worth the wait.
Shlomo ha-Melekh St 1, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
One can find falafel on just about every street corner in Tel Aviv, but Hakosem, which means “the magician,” is considered to be the best purveyor of the delicious fried chickpea balls. Opened in 2001, Hakosem is clean, colorful, and fun while still being authentic. No matter the time of day, the eatery is bustling with locals and tourists ready to try its trademark green falafel. Another of its signature dishes is homemade hummus, which is made fresh throughout the day. Each plate is served with a fresh pita, onions, pickles, spicy hot pepper, garlic, and lemon sauce. Other staple Israeli dishes are also served, including shawarma, shakshuka (eggs cooked in a spicy sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and seasoning), sabich (pita filled with eggplant), salad, and chicken schnitzel.
Rabbi Yohanan St 8, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
Every time I visit the flea market in Jaffa, I must stop for a cup of coffee or a bite at Pua restaurant. The space looks like a retro apartment my grandparents used to have, filled with furnitures and decorations well collected from the vintage stores next door. Beside the eclectic atmosphere and design, Pua serves a great, earthy and tasty food. Israeli breakfast is served all day (a great plus for those who love a good well-balanced mediterranean breakfast) and the menu changes according to the owner’s desire. Rest asure that every day will be a good one. I highly recommend to make reservations (if possible) or be patient as this place is very busy.
Jerusalem, Israel
I went to Israel for two weeks and I came back at least 10 pounds heavier. My downfall began with a trip to Mahane Yehuda (the “Shuk”), Jerusalem’s oldest and largest market where I discovered Israeli cheese, halva, pastries, cookies, olives, fresh and dried fruits - I indulged! My weakness though came in the form of the ever so tasty Israeli breads. My nose brought me to this man’s shop on Eitz HaChaim Street – that intoxicating, yeasty smell of freshly baked bread was too enticing to deny. For four shekels, I bought a piece of the pita bread topped with a spread made from olive oil and za’atar, the spice mix ubiquitous to the Middle East. My mistake was taking a bite of the bread before I left the market. I had to have more. The next thing you know, I was down another a few more shekels for another piece of the pita, a bagel and piece of taboon bread to try out. During my short stay in Jerusalem, I visited his store several times and tried out all the other varieties he had. Of course, Mahane Yehuda has a lot more to offer than bread so if you’re a market person, a visit to Mahane Yehuda is a must. For 99 NIS, you can buy a ticket called Shuk Bites which gives you a map and a punch card that you use to take a self guided tour through the market with curated tasting samples along the way – a perfect way to explore the this foodie paradise! You can get to Mahane Yehuda via Jerusalem’s light rail. Just get off at the station stop by the same name.
Beit Eshel St 3, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
While wandering around Jaffa, one of the oldest settlements in the world and now connected to Tel Aviv, I stumbled upon a restaurant called Dr. Shakshuka. The specialty is--wait for it--shakshuka, a concoction of poached eggs, tomato, onion, cumin, and chili peppers. And the man who makes it actually calls himself Dr. Shakshuka (pictured). The Doctor., a Libyan Jew, stands on a raised platform, several burners in front of him, like a DJ performing for the dining room. Diagnosis: Delicious.
HaCarmel St 11, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
The Carmel Market is the largest outdoors market in Tel Aviv and sells everything from toiletries, clothes, meat, fruit and vegetables and some delicatessen cheese. Like in a lot of outdoors markets, the fruit and vegetables are displayed in such a way you can touch, smell and sometimes even taste it before you buy. The outdoors markets (shuk) are busy, noisy and crowded but they are also a micro-cosmos sometimes of the country’s nation. Markets in Israel are opened quite early in the morning and close around 7 or 8. Friday before the Shabat, is mostly the most busiest days as people in a hurry to get food for the weekend. Saturday Shabat the markets are closed. Almsot every city in Israel has an outdoor market (shuk). Some of the well known ones are: Kerem Hateymanim, a a small neighborhood named after the immigrants from Yamen. The most famous shuk in Jerusalem is Machne Yehuda, which is quite a big outdoor place, very busy with a mix crowd of Jews, Muslim, Christians, Orthodox and seculars. In Haifa the shuk is in the arab quarter in Vadi Nisnas, the market has bakeries, fish and seafood stores and grounded arabic coffee. In recent years some main cities have Farmer markets, which take place mostly on Fridays.
Aluf Kalman Magen St 3, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
Located in the historic neighborhood of Sarona, a 19th-century German Templars settlement, Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market is a gourmet center. Inspired by food markets around the world, such as London’s Borough Market and New York’s Chelsea Market, the 94,000-square-foot space houses nearly 100 specialty food shops, stalls, and eateries. From cheese shops, knife makers, butchers, and local-produce stores to chocolate boutiques, bakeries, and ice cream parlors, there is something for everyone at Sarona. Visitors can walk around and learn about Templars history, or join one of the daily tours. In the summer, locals and tourists alike rent baskets from Picnic in the Little Italy section of the market, and eat lunch on the grass lawns.
Ha-Hagana St, Acre, Israel
The smallest holding in the mini-empire of Uri Jeremias, who also owns Akko’s Uri Buri restaurant and Efendi Hotel, this bright and no-frills ice cream shop sits along the old city’s western seafront. These are natural treats, made using local dairy products and no powders or stabilizers. The result is smooth and creamy, and the flavors (up to 16 available at a given time) are ones you won’t find too many other parts of the world, such as date, halva, cardamom, and rose.
Marco Polo St 25, Acre, Israel
There are a few stands worth stopping at inside the covered, one-lane Turkish Bazaar, a tidy marketplace within the Old City that’s got a more modern feel than the outdoor souks. This is one of them: a cup or two of sludgy and invigorating Turkish coffee will get you going, and the Ottoman-inspired paraphernalia adds to the atmosphere.
Yehuda ha-Levi St 79/81, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
“Alon and I are regulars for Friday breakfast. We love their take on the Arab dish shakshuka. In the original, eggs are poached in a sauce of tomatoes and red peppers, but here they use green peppers instead of red, and they add goat cheese.” —Architect Irene Kronenberg
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