For an authentic taste of the eclectic, stunning port city of Haifa, veer off the main avenues and drop by these homey restaurants. You will get a taste of the real food – and people – of this uniquely divers and harmonious part of Israel.
Come here with some friends: the sheer volume of food that will arrive at your table will require assistance to consume. You will be served a small plate of mjadarra (lentil rice), another of tomato and barley, two pieces of pita bread, a small plate of pickles, tomato and olives, a small plate of falafel and your choice of hummus.
Here is a place that you can pretty much treat like home – everybody else does. The chef could be sitting at the bar eating his breakfast, someone walks in and grabs a cookie from the cookie tin taking a big, cookie-monster bite, the barista might be walking around with a bowl of muffin batter under his arm stirring vigorously. And everyone is open to talk – about dreams, about themselves, the locale, you. They are also happy to leave you to yourself to stare out the window, study, or puzzle at the postmodern art and decor. Muffins, quesadillas, pumpkin soup and quiches all come highly recommended. Basically anything you order you will like. An English menu is coming soon – they promise!
These sandwiches will blow your mind and fill you up. A large loaf of bread is cut in half and both sides grilled, cold meats and cheese are also nicely fried. The bread is then smeared with mayo and spicy sauce and the whole thing assembled with lettuce, tomato and pickles. Voila! You have a sandwich the size of your arm packed with simple but strong – and slightly greasy – flavors.
Customers come back to this place time and time again. The walls are lined with newspaper clippings, awards and photos, even hand drawings – odes to the delight of consistently crispy, golden no-nonsense falafels. As you enter you are immediately offered one falafel ball dipped in tahina (sauce of sesame seed paste), you say if you want a half pita or whole, one or more, and then choose which filling you’d like to accompany the falafel: cabbage, cucumber or tomato. The whole thing is topped with another generous coating of tahina.
Old Arab Quarter, Haifa, Israel
This sweet little spot tucked off the main street up in Merkaz Carmel is an oasis of flowers, sunshine, perfect coffee and crispy fresh in-house baked anything-and-everything. Come during Chanukka and you can sample their variety of donuts filled with jam, chocolate, cream or custard. They open up at 5am and if you’re keen enough to show up at that time they will probably have some piping hot croissants ready to go. Sit out the back in the sunlight and eat a hot bowl of creamy artichoke soup drizzled with olive oil, or enjoy a quiche or an item from the all-day breakfast menu.