The following is a list of our favorite dining places in Israel, sorted approximately from north to south:
UPPER GALILEE REGION
(In Rosh Pinna)
Hole-in-the-wall shack; a must if you are in the area. Excellent falafel & hummus.
(In Vered Hagalil Guest Ranch)
This is Ron’s family ranch – a beautiful place to lodge, ride horses and visit, but the restaurant is leased out to Chef Haim Tibi. Nice fresh salads, good quality meats/steaks/burgers, and house made pastas.
A must! In this obscure no-frill hole-in-the-wall, Yaakub and his wife serve some of the best inexpensive authentic Arabic food! Lots of salads, some with seasonal wild plants. Best to come right around 11am, before the crowd and before they run out of many dishes.
WESTERN GALILEE REGION
Shawarma Murad Karam
(In Kfar Yasif)
It’s off the main routes, but this tiny kiosk serves our favorite shawarma in Israel! Be sure to ask for the grilled onions & tomatoes that he places under the shawarma spit too.
(All the recommendations below are within the old-city in and around the market or the old port; a great place for a day visit)
The Arabic Market
A must visit. Stroll through it, shop for produce and wares, and sample the good eats in and around it.
(By the port)
Seafood with Arabic twist.
Hummus Foul Samshia
(In the market)
Excellent shawarma and falafel; friendly owner.
(At the north end of the market)
Excellent hummus! Not as famous as Sa'id, but better in our opinion.
(In the market)
An institute. Some claim it’s the best. We think it’s just OK. Still; it is fun to get a small bite and watch the quick moving staff hassling you in and out.
(By the port)
The granddaddy of Israeli seafood. Excellent seafood at a price.
LOWER GALILEE – NAZARETH & VICINITY
(IN Reyna, just east of Nazareth)
Excellent Arabic from Ziad Abas, brother of Usam Abas of El Babor.
Tip: Make it clear you want their unique dishes and not the standards that everybody else offers.
UM EL FAHEM
Pioneer of authentic Arabic food in Israel is still one of the best. Watch the passionate chef-owner Husam Abas in the excellent food documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine”.
Tip: Make it clear you want their unique dishes and not the standards that everybody else has. (And get the stuffed lamb neck too.)
No frill, excellent, inexpensive Tripolitany food in the market (“shuk”). There is no sign; just ask market vendors for directions. Best to come for an early lunch, before the crowds and before they run out of some dishes. Don't miss the mafrum. Actually, just ask for small portions of everything they have.
Good falafel in the market. Order the "complete".
The Market (“shuk”):
Great place for buying good inexpensive fruits and vegetables, sample some of the food vendors stuff, and enjoy the vibes.
TEL AVIV YAFFO (Jaffa)
Excellent fish restaurant from the same chef-owner-brothers of HaAchim & Dok. Don’t skip the marmir fish if they have it.
Abu Hasan (a.k.a. "Ali Karavan")
Go to the original Yaffo location & go early to beat the crowd. (Opens 10am). An institute no-frill hole-in-the-wall. All they serve is excellent hummus... get all 3 styles and compare (Ron’s favorite since 1973 is the masabaha).
Our favorite from Jerusalem is now in Tel Aviv too. Authentic homey Kurdish/Iraqi food, cooked slowly on kerosene burners (“ptiliyot"). Best is to plead for small portions of every dish. Lunch only.
Hang around with the locals at this fun noisy hip old restored building at night. Various eateries, music, shops, including an Eyal Shani restaurant.
Excellent creative cocktails that won some international competitions. If possible, sit at the bar and watch the barman in action.
Excellent bourekas w unique fillings (shrimp, sweet-breads, etc.) within the market (Shuk HaCarmel).
Excellent Mediterranean food; small plates with lots of seafood choices. Casual and boisterous.
Doctor Sa'adia Falafel
One of the better falafel kiosks in Israel. The falafel is simple, airy, with lots of green herbs.
Excellent tiny chef kitchen, using top local ingredients, from the owners of HaAchim and Abie. Dinner only; reservations required.
One of our must stops! Don’t miss the falafel, fried eggplant slices, burik, and if you are not stuffed yet, the shawarma and Sabich.
Good Israeli/Arabic food w some modern twists and good vibes.
Very good Bukhari food. (Bukhara is a city in Uzbekistan.) Inexpensive no-frill blue-collar workers’ place. Don't miss: Dushpara soup, manto dumplings, gushgujada, fries w cilantro & garlic, and meat skewers.
HaSchnitzel Shel Tsion
A good no-frill inexpensive schnitzel kiosk.
Hummus Abu Adham
Excellent tiny hummus joint. Get the “meshuleshet” (trio): hummus with side of falafel balls, and a small Arabic salad. Shake and drizzle some of the bottled hot sauce too.
A must visit! Tiny kiosk that makes quality pita sandwiches. Avoid rush hours. Order small portions of everything on the tiny menu.
Very good breads & pastry.
A must! Excellent Butcher turned into steak-house in the market (Shuk HaCarmel). Be sure to get: Arais, tongue, green salad, tomato tehina salad, "shawarma", and crack pie.
A must! Excellent modern take on North African Jewish food.
A must! Eyal Shani's top creative pita sandwiches. Go to the original location. Avoid rush hours. Sit at the counter and watch the action. Crazy & hopping. Tip: the “shurot” are smaller portions if you want to try many items. And don’t forget the cauliflower.
Another excellent and crowded Eyal Shani place.
Saloof & Sons
This inexpensive, bustling place near the market (Shuk HaCarmel) serves traditional Yemenite dishes like malawach, jachnun, lachuch and kubaneh.
Creative Mediterranean sharing plates. Don’t miss: Jerusalem Mixed grill, Tunisian sandwich, Flat bread meat "pizza", Lamb Gyros, and Knafeh dessert.
One of our favorites for excellent upscale seafood.
Shim'on Meleh HaMarakim (=Shim’on king of soups)
Excellent inexpensive Yemenite soups and stews, slow-cooked on Kerosene burners (“ptiliyot”) in this tiny place by the market (Shuk HaCarmel). Tip: Come for early lunch before the crowd, ask nicely for smaller portions, and eat the menu.
Since 1930th, presumably the best place for traditional Eastern European Jewish. Best to visit on Thursdays (lunch or dinner) when they prepare dishes for the upcoming Shabbat.
A must visit in Tel Aviv, this giant no-frill market contains some of the best unassuming eateries in town, and plenty people watching too.
Shuk HaNamal (the port market)
Assortment of booths offering good foods. Unlike Shuk HaCarmel, this one is for the yuppies: Pricier and smaller but delicious nevertheless. Don’t miss the Sherry’s Dutch Herring sandwich! And take a digestive stroll along the coastal promenade thereafter.
Small shops of spices and good eats along Levinski street. Good nibbling and people watching.
If you need a break from the local foods, and feel like shelling extra bucks, Taizu serves excellent expensive upscale Asian cuisine.
Excellent upscale Mediterranean cuisine.
The burgers are excellent, but the fries – a mix of regular & sweet potatoes with lots of lemon zest – are a must.
If you must have Japanese cuisine in Israel and cost is not an issue, this is the place.
RISHON LE TSION
One of our favorite lunch stops! Excellent inexpensive blue-collar workers’ Yemenite AND Tripolitany cuisine. Ask for smaller portions of many items. Some favorites from their changing menu: Mafroom, Yemenite ox tail soup, Yemenite chicken soup, bean soup, beef w chestnuts, braised chuck ("shpondra").
Their spinach Bourekas is our favorite Bourekas in Israel. Arrive early – they run out! No frill blue-collar workers’ place. (Don’t confuse them with the larger Bourekas place next door.)
The food is just OK Arabic cuisine, but the excellent hummus masabaha and the kibbeh are the main reasons to stop here.
Shuk Ramla (the market)
A must visit in Ramla (and the other listed places are all within walking distance). Blue-collar market with top produce at low prices, good eats, and great people watching. (Try the Bourekas Turki Original stall and compare it to Yoshko’s.)
Our must visit within Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market. Authentic homey Kurdish/Iraqi food, cooked slowly on kerosene burners (“ptiliyot"). Best is to plead for one small portion of each dish. Lunch only.
Bourekas Turki Original
This tiny kiosk by Mahane Yehuda market is a branch of the Ramla market famed bourekas and just as good. Try the spinach version, with or without the egg.
Somewhat similar to Azura and excellent too! Old-fashion slow cooking on kerosene burners (ptiliyot). Skip the hummus etc. and ask for each of their unique Sephardic Jews dishes.
Shuk Mahane Yehuda
Our favorite market in Israel! A must visit! Produce, wares, eateries, and people-watching. Also worth re-visiting at night for the party scene, especially on Thursdays.
This is where the famed "Meurav Yerushalmi" (Jerusalem Mix) was invented some 50+ years ago. Order one in Pita from the take-out window.
Good luck finding this unmarked tiny hole-in-the-wall within the old city. Just ask nearby vendors. Watching the old quiet man preparing the made-to-order phyllo dough desserts is worth the effort!
Excellent fish restaurant, serving mostly local catch. (It’s kosher, so don’t expect shellfish.)