It is a myth that there are not great places open to eat on Saturday / Shabbat in Jerusalem, you just have to know where to find them. The order of this list is based purely on my personal preference and is by no means all-inclusive but I would happy to hear your feedback.
A cross between a diner and a brasserie, Zuni is probably Jerusalem’s only 24/7 restaurant with such a varied menu that there really is something for everyone. Great for family meals, drinks with friends or sitting alone at the bar. The menu includes traditional dishes like schnitzel, burgers and various sandwiches and salads but my favorite dishes are the Mac n Cheese and the Croque Madame with mushrooms (melted Emmental cheese sandwich, topped with fried eggs and parmesan). It is a fun option during the day and at night and Zuni delivers but orders are by phone only, full English menu on the website.
Zuni, 15 Yo’el Moshe Salomon Street, 02 625 7776
- R&R Diner
As with many places in Jerusalem, the hype is normally better than the reality. The concept of an American diner in the center of Jerusalem is a good one and although it is nicely decorated, for me the restaurant lacks much atmosphere. It is neither a diner or a bar. The menu has a bit of everything and the quality of the food is good but nothing wowed me and all the dishes seem to lack something, so they are not fully authentic. If you are craving a Reuben or Philly Steak Sandwich, Mac & Cheese balls or southern fried chicken then give it a try. They also serve good coffee and the service is friendly and pretty attentive.
R&R Diner, 33 Yafo Street, 02 625 3435
Although Menza is popular in the evening, I personally prefer the daytime menu including classic dishes like Eggs Benedict for breakfast and Milanesa Veal Schnitzel and Corned Beef Sandwich for lunch.
The bistro-style menu offers a pleasant balance of Mediterranean-inspired and continental crowd-pleasers executed at a gourmet level and creative concoctions that you’d expect at a high-end chef restaurant, as well as original and classic cocktails and wines for every budget.
Menza, 10 Bezalel Street, 02 625 5222
- Focaccia Bar
Somewhat of an institution among locals and tourists alike, Focaccia Bar is normally busy both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The restaurant has an interesting layout with a large covered courtyard. The menu is varied with a number of traditional European and American dishes, as well as various middle-eastern options.
At one time Link was one of the few places open on Shabbat in Jerusalem and has stood up to a number of Haredi protests. As with many bistros in Israel, the menu tries to offer something for everyone and is family friendly during the day, while offering a lively ambiance at night. The peaceful courtyard is a perfect place to hang out with friends and family and the inside sitting is nice for a more intimate option.
Bolinat differs from many of the other places on this list as you will hear mostly Hebrew being spoken. I suspect that tourists and expats don’t know about it so I hope I am not exposing a local secret!
This wonderful pavement café is busy throughout the week, but especially at the weekend and is open 24/7. The young Israeli staff is friendly and helpful and the bar menu has a surprisingly great choice of snacks and main dishes.
Bolinat, 6 Dorot Rishonim Street, 02 624 9733
- Café Bezalel
During the week this tiny café is filled with students from the nearby Bezalel art school and at the weekend it is a popular café for locals to while away the day. The limited menu offers traditional Israel breakfast and shakshuka, as well as more unusual breakfast option like a croissant filled with Gouda and Croque Madame (served with smoked goose instead of bacon). The coffee is also really nice and strong!
Cafe Bezalel, 8 Bezalel Street, 02 625 9164
- Etz Café
Finding authentic French toast and pancakes is not an easy task in Jerusalem so it is not surprising that people go to Etz Café especially for those items. They even serve brunch options such as pancakes with poached eggs! The Gouda toast with coleslaw is also pretty good. Open 10am-5pm on Friday and 10am-7pm on Saturday.
Etz Cafe, 3 Yannai Street, 054 248 9178
If you are looking for a change of scenery on Shabbat, then Ein Kerem is the perfect option. Be warned that all the places are very busy at the weekend so either book in advance or be prepared to wait. Parking is also limited and parking fines are issued on Shabbat in Ein Kerem. There are a number of places to choose from but Karma always seems to be the most consistent both day and night. The menu is incredibly diverse and the castle-like building has a great terrace with a view over the scenic village.
Karma, 74 Ein Kerem Street, 02 643 6643
- Landwer Café, First Station
Although it is a chain, the food at Landwer Cafe is slightly better than most of the chains and the First Station branch is also a convenient option on Shabbat. The service is normally very good and they are also incredibly children friendly. As well as several menu options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they also have a good salad and snack menu, which is perfect if you want to get out the house, but don’t want a heavy meal.
Landwer Cafe – David Remez 4, First Station, 02 587 7988
There are lots of other places all over the city including many in the Old City and East Jerusalem eg Austrian Hospice, Borderline & Pasha. Perhaps that will be a future post!
I am working on some other posts about where to eat in Jerusalem on Shabbat, but for now here are the current posts:
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