Considerable investment has been made in tourism over the last decade, with the aim of promoting Jerusalem as a worthy competitor to its beachside neighbour, Tel Aviv, resulting in the city’s culinary scene taking off. Today, more and more fantastic eateries are gaining the attention they thoroughly deserve.
A French restaurant and bakery located in Kikar Hamusica (The Music Square), Gourmandises is renowned for its delicious cakes, pastries and French crepes. Started by Yoel Afriat, a Parisian doctor who abandoned medicine to attend one of the most notable cooking schools in Paris – Lenôtre – this charming dairy bakery is just a 10-minute walk from the Old City and the Machane Yehuda Market. The outdoor seating area is perfectly located for watching the daily live-music performance in the square. Music is also the inspiration for the Gourmandises menu, with every dish named after a famous French musician.
One of the city’s more popular restaurants, Café Rimon has two central locations in Jerusalem. Its flagship café on Lunz Street is just off bustling Ben Yehuda street and the second one is in Mamilla Mall on the outskirts of the Old City, a mere 15-minute walk from the Western Wall. Although well known for its lunch and dinner menu, this upscale kosher restaurant also has one of the city’s best breakfast deals: an all-you-can eat buffet every Friday morning for just 49 shekels (£10). The breakfast menu includes frittatas, shakshuka and good old American-style pancakes, as well as a selection of salads, cheeses, yoghurt and granola.
Located just off bustling Jaffa Street, the popular Café Kadosh is in the heart of the Jerusalem Municipality and just minutes away from the Old City and Mamilla Mall. Founded in 1967 by Meir Kadosh, the café is famous for making everything on-site, from cakes to bread and pastries. Its interior has remained unchanged since its opening, but the menu has adapted and grown over time to include new favourites such as beetroot pancakes and brioche croque-madames. Kadosh’s son Itzik and his daughter-in-law Keren now run the café. There is an outdoor area, but you’ll most likely have to queue to get a seat, as Cafe Kadosh is something of an institution in the area.
Keshet HaChurva is a kosher dairy restaurant hidden behind a carved wooden door off the plaza of the Jewish Quarter, the most historic part of Jerusalem. It’s also just minutes from the Western Wall and adjacent to the historic synagogue of Churva. Its menu includes Israeli, Arabic, Italian and French dishes. The restaurant has a cosy interior and outdoor seating for 40 people, and is often hired for special events, like weddings and bar mitzvah celebrations, so opening times may vary.
Bordering the neighbourhoods of Rechavia and Talbia, Café Yehoshua has become one of Jerusalem’s most popular cafés with the young and hip crowd. A chameleon of an establishment, Café Yehoshua is a typical café in the morning, but turns into a restaurant for the rest of the day and a bar at night. It’s an Israeli café with an American diner-style menu, including stacks of pancakes and shakshuka. Served until noon, all breakfast dishes come with a choice of hot or cold drink. For 66 shekels (£14) there’s also a daily breakfast special offer: coffee, a cold drink and two eggs in any style, plus the usual complimentary salads, dips and pastries.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafés in the German Colony, but Caffit’s original café is a good place to start your day. Since 1987 it’s been serving sandwiches, bagels, shakshuka and sweet pastries to its loyal patrons. Vegan and dairy-free options, as well as a breakfast specially designed for two people to share, are also available. The authentic ‘Jerusalem breakfast’ is a must-try, and includes a traditional Israeli salad served on a sumac-toasted bagel, with a hard-boiled egg, tahini and chickpeas. Outside there is a shaded sitting area under a tree. Caffit is a five-minute walk from the First Train Station and only a few minutes from the trendy shops of Emek Refaim.