Jerusalem has fast caught up on the country’s shift towards a more plant-based diet. From hearty stews to vegan shakshuka, the options for a vegetarian and vegan-friendly meal in the city are aplenty.
Approximately five percent of the Holy Land’s population eschews all animal products in their diet or strictly follows Jewish dietary laws calling for the separation of meat and dairy. For this reason, and the fact that the country’s cuisine generally supports meat-free dishes, hundreds of restaurants across Jerusalem offer vegetarian and vegan-friendly menus. Culture Trip has shortlisted the best ones for you to try out.
Located in the trendy Nachlaot neighbourhood near the city centre, The Natural Choice has become a staple among vegetarians and those who follow a healthy lifestyle. It offers fresh slow-pressed juices, sandwiches and salads, and a variety of baked goods such as gluten- and sugar-free bread and cookies, all made from organic ingredients and prepared daily in the kitchen. Meals are competitively priced, ranging from roughly $6 (£4.60) for a quinoa salad or Asian-style gluten-free pasta to $11 (£8.51) for the vegan shawarma. Although it’s more popular for takeaway, there’s limited seating available for those wishing to dine in.
Opposite the Machane Yehuda Market, Aricha Sabich is a popular option for a quick bite. It serves a delicious traditional Iraqi Jewish dish consisting of fried eggplant, hard-boiled eggs, salad and tahini sauce inside a pita. Although it was originally favoured as a breakfast staple, it is now enjoyed at all hours of the day. Limited seating is available, but customers usually take their meal to go. During the winter months, the menu also includes a range of soups.
Café Bastet, an LGBTQ-friendly establishment with a large pride flag displayed over its door and located just a two-minute walk from Zion Square, offers creative takes on classic Israeli dishes, including vegan shakshuka and black lentil hummus. Its vegan hot chocolate and coffee blend are particularly popular. Breakfast is served all day, and the specials change daily. Unlike many other restaurants in Jerusalem, Café Bastet remains open on Saturdays during the Jewish Sabbath.
Village Green, which first opened its doors in 1992, serves delicious vegan meals throughout the day, including lasagna, hummus, quiche and soups, to name a few. For ravenous customers, it also offers a very reasonably priced buffet with a generous selection of salads and hearty stews during lunchtime. The restaurant interior has a traditional charm, and the bright and casual atmosphere of the restaurant is ideal for visitors looking to unwind after a long day spent exploring the city. Meals can also be enjoyed outdoors in their courtyard.
Enjoy an upscale meal and a night on the town in the heart of Jerusalem. Pergamon Restaurant shares its courtyard with a club of the same name, known to host live music and parties. It is one of the city’s top-rated restaurants, renowned for its cocktails, which are made with fresh herbs grown on its patio, and gourmet dishes such as polenta chips with tartar sauce, Parisian gnocchi with za’atar butter and slow-cooked Jerusalem artichoke with white wine and dates. Although it caters to a vegetarian crowd, there are also a few vegan and gluten-free options available on the menu. At the weekend, the chefs prepare food in the open kitchen and then dance until the early hours at the club.
No list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Jerusalem is complete without a hummus establishment. Located just outside of the Damascus Gate and within walking distance of the Old City, Hummus Acrmavi has been in the same location since 1952. Popular among local people, this place is loved for the lemony flavour and texture of its hummus. Alongside the hummus, there are sides of crispy falafel, pita, onions and pickles.
Near the Machane Yehuda Market in the picturesque Mashiyah Barukhof alley, the Nagila Vegan Restaurant offers a formal setting with soft jazz music playing in the background. This family-run establishment prides itself on a 100 percent plant-based and strictly kosher menu, with ingredients sourced directly from the nearby shuk (market). It offers a range of Mediterranean and international dishes, such as moussaka, gazpacho soup and ravioli pumpkin pasta, veggie burgers and quiche. The restaurant hosts regular exhibitions by local artists.
The competition for the title of the best falafel in Jerusalem is stiff, but Falafel Brothers Levy, located at the entrance of the Machane Yehuda Market, is a leading contender for the iconic deep-fried chickpea dish. Line up at this lively stand for falafel stuffed in eshtanor – a special Iraqi pita bread accompanied by traditional vegetable toppings, tomato puree, tahini and a Yemeni hot sauce known as zhug.
Ofaïmme Farm Café adheres to strict standards built around sustainable organic practices. All of the ingredients are grown in the Negev Desert, providing the perfect farm-to-table experience. Among the items sold in the store are organic eggs, acclaimed home-made cheeses, vegetables, honey, olive oil and jams. In Jerusalem, the branches of the café in the suburb of Beit HaKerem and close to the city centre in the historic Talbiya neighbourhood serve a selection of fresh produce and a delicious spread of cheeses and bread. The vegetarian restaurant in Talbiya is located inside Hansen House, a former leper house surrounded by gardens. The branch in Beit HaKerem offers a wider selection of Ofaïmme’s products and has a small café that serves light lunches, pastries and desserts throughout the day.
Pizzeria Flora is highly rated for its made-to-order Italian-style pizzas. Its menu features handmade pasta and salads (prepared with ingredients sourced straight from the Machane Yehuda Market), Negroni (a popular Italian cocktail) and cold Peroni beer from the tap. Vegan dishes are available on request. Its flagship branch lies near the shuk, and their second restaurant is based in the Rehavia neighbourhood.
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