While there are many cultural, spiritual, and historical advantages to living in Israel, the warm Mediterranean climate is certainly at the top of the list. But beyond the ability to take a dip in the sea in winter, a Mediterranean climate means land and soil rich with nutrients which in turn bring about an abundance of healthy products. Israeli restaurants are incorporating these healthy foods into their menus, without forgoing flavor in the least. Check out the top healthy eating restaurants throughout Israel.
Courtesy of Aminadav
Bistro, Restaurant, Israeli, $$$
Aminadav, Aminadav Street | Courtesy of Muscat Restaurant
Enter Aminadav, an unassuming neighborhood restaurant set smack dab in the middle of two Ernst & Young buildings. Chef and owner Yishay Attias may have studied the culinary arts in Paris, but this cozy bistro offers a taste of home, from the handwritten chalkboard showcasing the daily specials to the gooey lasagna customers have often called ‘comfort food.’ Still, if lasagna isn’t your healthy choice, don’t fret. Aminadav offers fresh fish specials,cheese and spinach quiches, whole wheat pasta and a make-your-own salad option. Pick your pleasure.
Muscat Restaurant, Spa Hotel Mizpe Hayamim, Rosh Pinna | Courtesy of Anastasia Cafe
Muscat Restaurant is a chef restaurant found at Hotel Mizpe HaYamim, an organic hotel, farm, and spa located in the historic area of Rosh Pina. The restaurant’s Galilean cuisine (cheeses, veggies, chicken, and meat) is borrowed from ingredients found in the fields of the Mizpe Hayamim farm. In the evenings, Chef Roee Dekel offers patrons appetizer and first course options that include shrimp on soft polenta and entrees like vegetable ratatouille and organic duck. Still want dessert? Healthy options include goat cheese kadaif and pears with Balkan yogurt and mint or magholi dates filled with pistachios and served with date honey and rum and raisin ice cream.
With the resurgence of vegan culture in Israel comes the resurgence of health food culture. Tel Aviv is getting in on the action, with restaurants boasting a healthy cuisine concept popping up all over the city. One location that promotes both healthy cuisine and veganism is Anastasia Café, the first specialized vegan café in the country. The cafe offers products made of raw materials with no white sugar, white flour, or distilled salts and oils in sight. Many of the dishes are gluten-free and other dishes are based raw foods. Coffee and coffee substitutes are available with almond milk along with four other milk types to choose from. Smoothies and vegan dishes are also on the menu, with local favorites such as grape leaves and unique combinations such as grits and azuki with glazed diced pumpkin stew. Anastasia Café promotes the vegan concept to its fullest and even has a small library where patrons can borrow books on nutrition, vegetarianism, philosophy and Buddhism.
While going up towards Galilee means lots of organic goodies, you’ll be more hard pressed to find healthier restaurants down south, though Beersheva and surrounding areas have their share of organic shops and vegan chains. Pundak Neot Semadar, an organic restaurant in the kibbutz of the same name, calls itself an oasis garden restaurant. Sitting in a shaded green oasis surrounded by the desert on the road leading from Mizpeh Ramon to Eilat, it most certainly is. This restaurant, café, and shop carries local organic products made in the kibbutz itself. It serves light vegetarian meals, and organic products such as cheese, jam, and fruit. Several organic cheeses and yogurts are made from fresh goat milk. It’s simplicity and health at its finest.
Opening in 1993, Te’enim is considered one of Jerusalem’s longest-standing vegetarian restaurants. Owner Patrick Melki was born in Algeria and raised in the south of France. With a 20-year background in vegetarian cooking and baking, he adds a distinct flavor to the location. The restaurant is simple in décor, but diners won’t mind, as they’ll be too busy checking out the view. Te’enim, which means figs in Hebrew, stands in the Confederation House in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood, with a marvelous view of King David’s Tower, the Church of Dormition, and the Old City Walls. Te’enim offers simple, but tasty dishes including grilled sabich, mushrooms and seaweed pie, and a dish that changes daily.
The Eucalyptus aims to use flavors that are relatively unknown in modern gourmet cuisine but common for the traditional Jerusalemite. Chef Moshe Basson continues family tradition, focusing on foods, herbs, wild plants, and fruits consumed for a long time in the region. The restaurant is a proud member of the Slow Food movement, an organization founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life and the disappearance of local food traditions. A wide range of flavors are found on the restaurant’s three tasting menus and entrees include everything from maklubah, a mix of chicken, rice, vegetables, saffron, almond yogurt and Jordanian salad, to slow-cooked neck of lamb with roasted vegetables in a clay pot. The Eucalyptus is located in an ancient stone building of the Artist’s Quarter, not far from the Old City.
Café Louise is one of the first chains of its kind, promoting healthy cuisine at 11 locations throughout Israel, including a kosher spot in Kiryat Motzkin and three different locations in Tel Aviv. But while a vegan-friendly atmosphere and healthy cuisine seem to be a Tel Aviv staple these days, the first Café Louise restaurant was actually founded on Mount Carmel in Haifa in 2007. Café Louise serves up breakfast, business lunch, and dinner with specialities such as seaweed shakes and the Mother Earth Salad featuring black lentils, goat cheese, beetroot, sunflower sprouts and more. Next to the café, the gourmet shop offers a variety of health and nature products, including coffee blends, exclusive breads baked on the spot, speciality spreads made by in-house chefs, and granola mixtures.
Café Louise, multiple locations throughout Israel, +972 1700-70-60-99