The Best Budget Restaurants in Jerusalem

Bars and restaurants dominate Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market
Bars and restaurants dominate Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market | © Boaz Rottem / Alamy Stock Photo
Ebin Sandler

Jerusalem’s culinary scene is as varied and colourful as the traditions that make the City of Gold such an intoxicating, multi-layered experience. Here, you’ll find an array of budget restaurants that serve dishes ranging from traditional Middle Eastern favourites like falafel and shawarma to vegan fusion bistro fare and trendy street food.

1. FishenChips

Fish and Chip Shop, Restaurant, Israeli, British

In recent years, Jerusalem’s bustling Mahane Yehuda Market, a traditional old-world bazaar, has become the go-to location for trendy spots like FishenChips, which brothers Shlomi and Aviram Ochana opened in 2010. The seafood at FishenChips is sourced from the owners’ father, who runs the fish stand just a few stalls down, and is fried in beer batter and served with chips, local salads and tangy sauces. In the evening, you can sip a foreign beer or try the Israeli anise-flavoured liqueur arak while you enjoy the open-air art gallery that appears when the market’s stalls shutters are down, revealing aerosol portraits of historical and contemporary figures, from the Bible’s King Solomon to Bob Marley, painted by local graffiti legend Solomon Souza.

2. Nagila

Restaurant, Diner, Vegan, Vegetarian

Nagila is a family-run restaurant in Even Yisrael, Jerusalem
© Nagila

Nagila is a family affair: it was opened by wife and husband Gila and Yonatan Folds and their daughter Hannah Jasmine is the restaurant’s chef. The cosy café is tucked away on a little alley in the historic Even Yisrael neighbourhood in the centre of Jerusalem. The menu offers a variety of dishes, combining Indian, North African and Israeli flavours. Freshly squeezed juices and vegan desserts round off Nagila’s menu, with many gluten-free options available. This spot is a great choice for brunch or dinner.

Nagila’s menu combines Indian, North African and Israeli flavours

3. Tmol Shilshom

Cafe, Restaurant, Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pastry Shop, Kosher, Israeli

Tmol Shilshom is named after Israeli Nobel Prize laureate S Y Agnon’s 1945 novel Only Yesterday. This establishment has earned a reputation within Jerusalem’s cultural scene as ground zero for writers, artists and musicians, as well as those who just want to rub shoulders with them. The restaurant has hosted readings by the nation’s top authors, from Amos Oz to Orly Castel-Bloom, in addition to concerts and other performances. It also offers delicious traditional Israeli dishes such as shakshuka and grilled eggplant in addition to other Mediterranean fare.

4. Hello Yemen

Food Stall, Hole in the Wall, Israeli, Middle Eastern

While Hello Yemen is located next to a gas station on a major thoroughfare near the outskirts of the city, locals consistently rave about this hole in the wall’s shawarma – the spicy, vertically grilled Middle Eastern meat dish served in a pitta or laffa. Hello Yemen offers veal, chicken and turkey shawarma, slathered with tahini and spicy Israeli zhug spread, to which diners add vegetables and pickles from a well-stocked salad bar. In addition to shawarma, Hello Yemen serves steaks, kebabs and Jerusalem mixed grill (a flavourful combination of organ meat seasoned with onion, garlic, cumin and turmeric). What Hello Yemen lacks in ambience it makes up for with powerful flavours and generous portions.

5. Café Shalva

Restaurant, Mediterranean, Italian, Dessert

Café Shalva combines a Mediterranean-Italian menu of fresh fish, pastas and salads with its mission of providing meaningful employment to individuals with disabilities. Operated by the Shalva National Center, a non-denominational organisation that promotes comprehensive care and social inclusion for people with disabilities, the café offers diners the chance to support a truly equal opportunity employer while enjoying seriously tasty eats. With a menu featuring desserts such as Parisian chocolate cake with melted truffles and vanilla ice cream, supporting a good cause never tasted so divine.

Café Shalva is operated by the Shalva National Center

6. Burgers Bar Old City

Restaurant, Israeli, American

Israel has experienced a burger craze during the past decade, with a number of speciality restaurants opening up in the Holy Land. Burgers Bar has emerged from the scrum with one of the nation’s best all-beef patties – the burgers here are cooked to order and jazzed up with an array of toppings, a laundry list of sauces, and fresh chips and onion rings. The Burgers Bar in Jerusalem’s Old City is literally steps from Jewish, Christian and Islamic holy sites, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, making it the perfect place to feed the body after nourishing the soul.

7. Ben Ami

Cafe, Patisserie, Wine Bar, Dessert Shop, Coffee Shop, Israeli, Coffee, Beer, Wine, Pastries, Dessert

Situated in the heart of Jerusalem’s Emek Refaim neighbourhood, which straddles the historic German Colony and Baka districts, Ben Ami serves up flavourful entrees, rich desserts and a wide selection of coffees, wine and beer. During the day, its comfy café atmosphere is perfect for sipping a latte and munching on a pastry in the company of friends or while working on your laptop. In the evening, Ben Ami draws an artsier crowd, with live music inside and plentiful seating outside. Come to the area before the shops close on Emek Refaim, which is home to funky boutiques and bookstores, but don’t forget to arrive at Ben Ami while a good table on the sidewalk is still available.

8. Ben Sira Hummus Bar

Restaurant, Israeli, Middle Eastern

To say Israelis take their hummus seriously would be an understatement, with entire restaurants devoted to this warm, creamy chickpea-based dip that bears little resemblance to the little tubs of pasty spread that somehow pass for hummus in many parts of the world. When you taste the real deal at a restaurant like Ben Sira, you’ll understand why this dish inspires such devotion in the Middle East. Here, you can pair your hummus with crunchy falafel, spiced ground beef, fresh-baked pita or any number of warm or cold Israeli salads. An icy lemonade or Goldstar beer goes with everything on the menu, and the restaurant’s black coffee is the perfect way to complete this uniquely Israeli meal.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article