Tel Aviv’s food scene
is world famous, so it’s easy to forget that the rest of Israel offers an almost endless choice of eating options: from fine Arab food to contemporary chef restaurants hiding in ancient markets
to southern-style BBQ and the world’s simplest plate of hummus. Here are the best places to eat around Israel.
The hummus at Jaffa’s Abu Hassan (sometimes called Ali Karavan) is a fixture on every local foodie’s hummus circuit. Some even consider it the source of the best plate of hummus in the world, and it has a cult-like following. The first bite you will have of the masabacha
— a mixture of hummus, warm chickpeas and tahini — will help you understand the depth and sheer cultural force of this food. This is a first-come-first-served affair, so arrive no later than noon. Head to the old school branch on Jaffa’s Dolfin Street for the original experience, or something (slightly) more modern at Shivtei Israel Street, a few blocks east, near the flea market.
Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Way up north in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Acre (Acco) hides one of Israel best fish restaurants, Uri Buri. Uri, a grizzly bear of a man, runs the kitchen and the adjacent world-class Efendi Hotel
. Pricey but well worth it, this culinary gem sits inside Akko’s old city overlooking the sea, from which it gets both inspiration and ingredients. Arguably the best seafood and fish-oriented restaurant in Israel, Uri Buri fuses fine dining with local fishing culture. Afterwards, head to the Efendi’s roof-top bar for a drink.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Nothing says fine Italian dining in Tel Aviv like a dinner at Pronto. One of the city’s most famous restaurants, Pronto has been around for over 20 years, serving simple but uncompromising Italian food in an unequivocally Tel Avivian atmosphere. Some old-timers consider it Israel’s best and most consistent restaurant, even after its legendary chef and owner stepped down, handing the chef’s hat to David Frankel. (Also, it’s where Tarantino went when he visited the city).
Restaurant, Steakhouse, $$$
Due to religious slaughter regulations, Israel is somewhat lacking in its prime cuts. But there’s one exception: Alabama. An unassuming and relatively unknown smokehouse in the unremarkable coastal city of Netanya, Alabama is a no-frills, bring-your-own booze, cash-only, southern BBQ carnivore’s heaven. Offering a flawless tasting menu of the day’s cuts and no corking fees, this is a reservation-only place, so call in advance and thank me later.
Restaurant, Asian, $$$
More a work of art than a restaurant, Taizu is the brainchild of chef Yuval Ben Neriah, and offers a “journey” into Asian street food. It’s very expensive, but worth the splurge if you’re up for something super fine and truly unique.
Dumplings at the Taizu | Courtesy of Taizu
Restaurant, Mediterranean, $$$
This is one of the lesser-known places run by Tel Aviv’s most prominent chef, Eyal Shani
. Famous for revolutionizing Tel Aviv’s cuisine with fine dining in a pita
and his ingeniously simple menu at Port Sa’id, North Abraxas offers the best of Shani’s tomato-obsessed cuisine in a comfortable yet hip restaurant.
Restaurant, Mediterranean, $$$
In Jerusalem, innovative Chef Assaf Granit’s Machneyuda takes its name from the market it calls home. Using the local Mahne Yehuda shouk
(market) as its inspiration, Machneyuda has skyrocketed from a local foodie secret to mainstream success, recently opening up shop in London to much fanfare.
The Old Man and the Sea
Restaurant, Mediterranean, Seafood, $$$
Jaffa is one of the world’s oldest port cities, and no visit to Israel is complete without a visit to The Old Man and the Sea. With a dazzling array of all-you-can-eat salads, fresh pitas, and any fresh fish or seafood you want (cooked any way you want) for a fixed price, you are sure to have blast.