is a famous intersection for varying religions and cultures, steeped in history as one of the oldest cities in the world. When it comes to culinary pursuits, Jerusalem’s multicultural and diverse population is a distinct advantage, resulting in an extremely rich variety of cuisines and flavors, all contributing to the city’s eclectic ambiance. Here’s our take on Jerusalem’s 10 best cultural restaurants.
Moshe Basson – executive chef and owner of Eucalyptus – devised his successful restaurant by blending his study of agriculture with his enduring passion for ancient scripture. The result is a restaurant serving expertly prepared, traditional dishes that have been regional staples for centuries – some of which even hail from the Bible, in-keeping with Jerusalem’s intensely religious heritage. The multi-award winning chef is also a leading figure in the Slow-Food movement, creating dishes with a commitment to community and environment, such as the signature veal sweetbreads, figs stuffed with chicken and unusual fish falafel. Enjoy one of the three themed tasting menus – King David Feast, Shir Hashirim Feast and the Queen of Sheba Feast – each promising unrivaled flavor.
The Eucalyptus Restaurant, Felt, 14 Hativat Yerushalayim st., Jerusalem, Israel, +972 2 624 4331
One of the most successful restaurants in Jerusalem, Machneyuda quickly shot to fame following its opening in 2009. As the combined effort of three of Israel’s Iron Chef winners – Chef Krav Sakinim, Chef Asaf Granit and Chef Uri Navon – the passion for food and sheer culinary creativity is seemingly unstoppable. Located close to both the Knesset and the Israel Museum, Machneyuda is a trendy destination attracting an eclectic crowd. The menu is consistently fresh and seasonal, with a homely interior and open kitchen, where customers can witness the creation of their dishes. To enjoy the full experience, try the tasting menus carefully crafted by the three chefs.
Mahneyuda, Beit Ya’akov St 10, Jerusalem, +972 2 533 3442
Restaurant, Moroccan, Middle Eastern, Israeli, $$$
Darna is an understated jewel in Jerusalem’s culinary crown, bringing authentic Moroccan culture and unique flavors to the city. Styled akin to an upmarket Maghreb home, the architecture is a work of art in itself and the stained glass windows, oriental rugs and plump cushions offer exotic elegance. Darna serves delicious Moroccan cuisine across three different menus – offering bespoke business, traditional and gourmand choices. In addition to the famous flavors and attentive staff, Darna also boasts a 5,000 bottle wine cellar. Darna,3 Horkanos Street, Jerusalem, Israel,+972026 245 406
As the city’s premier fish and seafood restaurant for over 44 years, Dolphin Yam offers a refreshing change from the surrounding kosher kitchens and meat-heavy menus. Located in the vibrant downtown area, the stucco walls and arched windows give the venue a sophisticated, authentic ambiance. Dolphin Yam serves a varied and continuously rich menu, offering meat and pasta dishes in addition to its famous seafood fare. Begin with fried soft shell crabs before progressing to the sea bass with a white wine and garlic sauce, or opt for fried eggplant followed by an entrecote steak. The quality of the dishes is ratified by the loyal customer base, hailing from across the country.
Dolphin Yam, 9 Shimon Ben Shetach str., Jerusalem, Israel, +972 2623 2272
Bar, Restaurant, European, $$$
Known for its excellent kosher kitchen, HaChazer is a distinctive spot serving excellent regional classics with European twists. Located in the upscale neighborhood of the German Colony and set in a well-preserved old railway building, the modern, evocative and warm space set across two-floors welcomes guests with an elegant restaurant and bar. Led by acclaimed chef Moti Ochana, HaChazer features delectable specialties such as the beef Carpaccio in truffle oil, excellent stews concocted from oxtails and beef cheeks and some of the finest fish plates in the region. The menu is crafted with a view to evoking Mediterranean flavors accented with Israeli influence, prepared from the freshest local ingredients. Hachatzer,7 Derech Beit Lehem, Jerusalem, Israel,+9720267 19922
The best views in town are presented at Kedma, a cosmopolitan kosher brasserie popular both for its outstanding terrace and its delectable small plates. Kedma is not only a kosher restaurant but a hub of international cuisine, featuring traditional dishes from West Africa to Western Europe, providing a rich spectrum of Jewish flavors. Sample the lamb-stuffed Druze pita, the corned beef and the chicken on a bed of couscous. If looking for something a little more unusual, why not try the balsamic-jacked beef Carpaccio – a fantastic twist on a classic dish. The 110-year-old building has been updated with a sensitive touch, the designers progressing with innovation whilst remaining ever-mindful of the history in the walls of the Old City and the prominent Jaffa Gate – both visible from the restaurant.
Kedma, Mamilla Shopping mall, 3rd floor, Jerusalem, Israel, + 972 02 500 3737
Little Jerusalem, located in the acclaimed Ticho House, is one of Jerusalem’s best historical venues. Constructed by an Arab dignitary, the building housed the infamous antiquities forger, Shapira, before becoming the home ofAbraham and Anna Ticho, who transformed the venue into the primary hub for artists, philosophers, scientists and politicians of the early 20th century. The restaurantis a local favourite serving simple, rustic classics such as crisp salads, pasta and perfectly prepared fish dishes. Four times a week, live music is provided, guaranteeing a perfect evening – enjoy an authentic repast from the picturesque garden terrace or nestle into the evening on one of the homey indoor tables.
Little Jerusalem Restaurant at Beit Ticho Museum, HaRav Kuk St 9, Jerusalem, Israel, +972 2 624 4186
Rachmo should be high up on your list if seeking a truly authentic taste of Jerusalem. Located at the Ha’eshkol Street, just steps away from the lively Machane Yehuda market, Rachmo has been serving excellent Kurdish-Iraqi food since 1930. Portions are famously generous and exceptional value – indeed, the constant queue speaks for itself. Erring on the side of tradition, the decor is classic and in keeping with the history and food at this quirky venue. Enjoy the delicious Kurdish kubeh soup or the mouth-watering hummus, opt for a warming bowl of goulash or enjoy a hearty schnitzel or steak.
Rachmo, 5 Haeshkol Street, Jerusalem, Israel, +972 2 623 4595
Tmol Shilshom translated as ‘those were the days’, is a charmingly nostalgic, veteran bookstore-cafe and restaurant established in 1994. Named after Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon’s novel, Tmol-Shilshom, the venue is awash with art and culture, and is famous for hosting some of Israel’s best-known writers and frequently organizing both writing courses and reading events. A cozy haven, Tmol Shilshom offers plenty of books to accompany delicious Israeli-fusion food. Try the purple ravioli and the mouth-watering shakshuka or opt for the sahlab, Shilshom’s take on the famous Middle Eastern milkshake. Nestled in a 130-year-old building with retro-chic furnishings, Tmol is the perfect escape from the usual tourist hotspots.
Tmol Shilshom, Yo’el Moshe Salomon Street 5, Nachalat Shiva, Jerusalem, Israel, +972 2623 2758