If I could write a love letter to a specific country’s food, it would be Israel. To be honest, I don’t really know what it is about the food there that I love so much. I mean, hummus is available around the world but it tastes better in Israel. Craft beer is, again, found around the world but I find myself craving a very specific one from Israel. Oh, and speaking of cravings, don’t even get me started on a very special cheese sandwich. While none of those may sound particularly fancy, trust me when I say Israel is the place to go if you are a foodie and in this blog post, I’m going to share some the best foodie finds that I discovered thanks to my friend Brittany of The Sweet Wanderlust. Here’s where to eat in Jerusalem.
Where to Eat in Jerusalem: My Top Picks
I know most people say to save the best for last but I’m starting with what I think was the best meal and food experience I’ve ever had in my life because it books out months in advance so you need to make reservations. Trust me when I say this is a Jerusalem restaurant that you do not want to miss.
So, what makes Machneyuda so amazing? Well… all of it. The atmosphere, the food, the entire experience is, well, just a whole lot of delicious fun.
Machneyuda is a chophouse restaurant. You can get a reservation at a table but for the best experience, you’ll want to get a seat at the chef’s tasting table. This means you get to sit at a bar, right up front, and watch as the chefs in the kitchen prepare, cook, and serve your meal.
It’s very informal, there are a lot of jokes, a lot of teasing, and a lot of shots (for you, the diner, and the chefs). You have no say in what you get, although you will be asked about any allergies or intolerances ahead of time, but you can expect a big variety. From salads to pasta to seafood to beef. There’s a little bit of everything. I’m not a big beef enthusiast but even I ate what I was served. It was that good.
My biggest tip (aside from booking as far in advance as possible) is to make sure you come hungry. Very hungry. I think I counted 15 different plates. Again, despite its reputation, it is informal so there’s no need to dress a certain way. The three of us went in our Purim costumes as you can see from the photo above. I do want to note that it’s not cheap. I paid $150CAD for the tasting course plus tip and a glass of wine. However, I absolutely think it was worth it.
If you are wondering where to eat in Jerusalem and want something truly memorable, this place is a must!
Café Gan Sipur
Away from the typical tourist area, located in a cute park is Café Gan Sipur. It’s a bit of a walk from the downtown core of Jerusalem if you are coming from the Old Town, but you can take the public transit as well. Café Gan Sipur is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but I recommend going for breakfast. There is a varied menu but we all went for the Israel breakfast which included eggs (we chose omelettes) salad, fresh bread, plenty of condiments and sides including cream cheese, crème fraiche, jam, and guacamole (among other things) and drinks. We ate leisurely outside looking over the park and it was a perfect start to a day of sight-seeing.
Arale Crepe Brulee
If you are wondering where to eat in Jerusalem if you have a sweet tooth, look no further than Arale Crepe Brulee. This awesome little shop offers freshly made crepes cones filled with your choice of decadent dessert: crème brulee is the traditional pick but they also offer other flavours with cheesecake, chocolate, ice cream, lemon meringue, and more. It’s an original dessert that I hadn’t tried before and I have been craving one since. I think I’ve messaged them at least twice on Instagram asking when they plan on opening a shop here in Canada (I’m still waiting).
Do you like cheese? I hope so, or else we might not be able to be friends (kidding…but I mean, who doesn’t like cheese?). If you do like cheese, then Basher Fromagerie in the Machane Yehuda Shuk is a must-stop.
From just looking at the counter, you’ll see tons of cheese but then a few other things like olives, cherries, etc. You’ll also see (if they haven’t sold out) baguettes. This is what you want. Ask for a cheese sandwich and the clerk behind the counter will create the most magical baguette you have ever had in your life. From cheese scented with truffles to crushed nuts and even cherries, he created a delicious masterpiece of a sandwich that I ate in record time and wish I knew how to recreate.
Ok, so this is a bit of a random pick but I think it’s a must-try. Etrog Man is basically a fresh juice shop that is known for a very specific drink called EtroGat. Now, I’m not really sure of the specifics but there is something funky in this refreshing drink (khat or gat) that, as the description says, ‘gives you a fun high’. So, if you need a pick-me-up after a day of sightseeing, this is the drink for you.
In fairness, Etrogat, according to the shop owner who is a local healer also helps with other things like menopause symptoms, strengthening your digestive system, and keeping a smile on your face.
How do you describe a malawach from Jahnun Bar? Well, my friend Brittany described it to me as an Israeli burrito. She wasn’t wrong but I would also add that it sort of felt like an Israeli version of Subway. But better; taste wise and also because it involved music and dancing.
In a way, Jahnun Bar is a bit like Machneyuda in that they put on a show while they prep your food. One person works on the malawach which is a Jewish flat bread, and cooks it fresh in front of you by flipping it high in the air while dancing (and likely singing) to whatever fun song they have blaring from the speakers.
When the malawach is done you get to choose your fillings. Since I had never had one before, I just asked the man prepping mine to put in whatever he liked best. I’m not sure what it was but I was very happy with the results. If you are wondering where to eat in Jerusalem for a quick grab-and-go type meal, this is the spot for you.
On top of being a great place to grab a meal and groceries, the Mahane Yehuda Shuk is also known for its nightlife. My favourite spot to grab a drink? The Beer Bazaar. With over 100 types of beer on offer, this is the place to come if you want to try some of Israel’s best beers. From a summery strawberry beer to dark beer brewed in a whiskey barrel, Beer Bazaar has some really unique and delicious beers to try. Can’t decide? You can always get a flight.
They do serve some food here as well and you get free popcorn with your beer order which just made me fall in love with this bar even more. Plus, the staff are even awesome. Although, I’m probably very biased after one bartender called me legendary (insert hair flip here).
Israeli food is delicious and you will have no issues finding all kinds of options around Jerusalem, but I honestly think that if you leave the Holy City without trying my picks for where to eat in Jerusalem, then you, my friend, are missing out.