Tmol Shilshom is a bookstore and café restaurant with vibe perfect for bookworms. It can be tricky to find, but there are signs from Yaffo Street that point you toward the alley where it is located. Famous for their salmon fillet in fig sauce, the Amanda Salad and the cheesecake, Tmol Shilshom is also a hotspot for Israel’s best-known writers to read from their works. Yehuda Amichai read from his poetry at the opening of Tmol Shilshom in June 1994. Since then, the restaurant has hosted Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, Batya Gur and many other great Israeli authors. If it’s a cold day, try the delicious sahlab. This warming Middle Eastern drink is composed of coconut, nuts, raisins and cinnamon.
Sigmund is a dome-shaped, open-kitchen restaurant with fresh food and a homey feel. Located on Azza Street, it is set in the beautiful neighborhood of Rehavia. The environment at Sigmund is just as impressive as the food. Try the Shakshuka, a tomato and veggie-packed breakfast dish served in a skillet with eggs cracked in and broiled into the stew.
Ichikadana is an Indian restaurant in the Machane Yehuda shuk (Hebrew for market) that serves a platter of Indian food, rice, four kinds of cooked vegetables, lentils, four dips, a salad, yogurt and bread. The small environment makes for a personal visit and great attention to the customer. Ichikadana is great for family meals; but it’s small, so don’t be afraid to get a little comfy.
Please Note, Ichikadana has recently closed.
Sheger is an authentic Ethiopian restaurant near the Machane Yehuda shuk. Start with the basics by ordering injera (either vegetarian or meat), which is a sourdough-like flatbread made from fermented teff flour. The dips, meats, and salads are served on top of the injera, which is used as a scoop. It is an Ethiopian custom to feed a significant other the food from hand to mouth, so go ahead and try. The staff are friendly and knowlegable about the menu, lending Sheger a welcoming feel. Note that the restaurant is cash only.
Jachnun Bar is a vegetarian restaurant in Machane Yehuda with a whole range of Yemenite pastries and foods. Jachnun itself is a Yemenite Jewish pastry that is slow cooked overnight, and served on Saturday mornings when observant Jews who keep the sabbath do not use ovens or any electricity. If you’ve never tried it before, the malawach pizza is amazing.
For a relaxed bar in downtown Jerusalem, away from the more touristy bars, try Hataklit. It is centrally located and often crowded, but just enough to have a great time. Hataklit (in English: “the record”) attracts a diverse crowd of music enthusiasts, hipsters and sports-watchers. Early in the evenings, the vibe is calm and later turns into more of a party atmosphere. The prices are reasonable, and the drink selection is extensive. Drinks before 9 pm are buy-one-get-one free. L’chaim!
Papagaio is a Brazilian BBQ restaurant. It’s a little pricey (equivalent of $50 for the all-you-can-eat option), but worth splurging for if you’re hankering for some good kosher meat. The waiters will bring the meat on large skewers, and you may try as much or as little of each as you wish. Because everything is all-you-can-eat, you can ask for more of anything, this includes the fries and side dishes.
Pavilion Buffet Restaurant at Dan Jerusalem Hotel
Don’t underestimate a free breakfast that comes with a hotel room. At the Pavilion Buffet Restaurant at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel, room costs are around $152 per night and include an incredible array of Israeli breakfast staples such as eggs, salad, yogurt, fish, cheese, bread, pastries, dessert, coffee, juice, tea, and much more. Spend at least one night here just for the breakfast. For those living in Jerusalem, consider a ‘staycation.’ It’s just that good.