May Foodie Roundup

Each month when I come to prepare this newsletter I am always surprised at how much news there is. There seem to be some interesting openings this month, especially among kosher restaurants. As always, I would love to hear your feedback and if you want to get ongoing updates, please follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Kosher

The Jerusalem shuk might be full of bars but most of them are no longer places that people over 30 want to hang out. So I am particularly excited by the opening of Samantha Jones Jerusalem and I hope it will provide a welcome alternative. Named after a character in Sex & the City – the concept is meant to be a bar run by women, with a kitchen that offers female chefs a comfortable place to work, but when I dropped in last week, the chef on duty was a man.  They still have a test menu with a variety of incredibly predictable dishes like beef carpaccio, burger and steak, so I hope that the food is good or that they will develop some more unique dishes soon.

Another potentially exciting addition to the Jerusalem kosher dining scene is Andalucia Cocktail Bar in Kikar Hamusica. It is being advertised as a tapas bar but the dishes are a mixture of Spanish and Middle Eastern and not traditional tapas dishes. For now, the menu is only available in Hebrew and all dishes are NIS 55.

Tel Aviv is also gaining a new Spanish kosher restaurant called Carmen. The owners are North African Jews who moved to Israel from Toulouse and the menu embraces dishes with Spanish, French and North African influences. The chef Maurice Avitan previously worked at Par Derriere and Idelson 10. Starters include grilled spleen and goose liver, while some of the main dishes on offer are Toulouse-style sausages with goose confit and a grilled Rossini burger with a slice of foie gras and wine sauce.

A new Georgian bar has opened in Be’er Sheva named after the Georgian national drink, Chacha. The menu includes various Georgian Hachpuri pastries such as the popular Acheroli filled with melted cheese, egg and butter; Lobio soup and of course lots of alcohol. The bar is Kosher with no hechsher.

Caphé Hanoi has opened a gluten-free and vegan café next door called Bowl & Juice. All dishes are NIS 45 and include hot Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, as well as Buddha bowls, acai bowls, vegan desserts, shakes and cold press juices.

Purple Rain for a Monday 💜

A post shared by Caphehanoi (@caphehanoi) on

The Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv has once again opened Veranda bar by Kyoto restaurant. The terrace overlooking the sea is open Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Friday and Saturday from 12pm until late.

Table for 3 please! 🍸🍹 For reservations follow the link in bio 🥃

A post shared by Veranda ~ Tel Aviv (@veranda_tlv) on

Chef Meir Adoni has opened a second branch of his street food restaurant Dunya, in central Tel Aviv on Ben Yehuda. Traditional dishes include shawarma, arais, kubeh, sabich, burger and malabi.

Not Kosher

A new uber-cool restaurant has opened in Florentine called Kirkas.  The names of the dishes are all strange play on words but the food itself seems pretty mainstream, like fish ceviche, sweetbread salad and Jerusalem artichoke tortellini.

R2M Group (Brasserie, Coffee Bar and Hotel Montefiore) has opened Disco Tokyo in the Herzl 16 compound in Tel Aviv. The concept is not so much a traditional Japanese restaurant, rather a fun restaurant with a Japanese style, as well as many Korean dishes. Menu items include bao buns, beef in Agadashi sauce and Korean dumplings.

Captain Burger (originally from Jerusalem) has opened two new branches. The first is in Tel Aviv on Ibn Gvirol, where Wolfnights used to be, and the second in Hadera.

Café Popular recently opened in Jacob Samuel Hotel in north Tel Aviv, spread over two floors. As of now, only a bar with a dining menu is open on the lower floor, the bistro will open at a later stage and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is owned by four Tel Aviv restaurateurs and the kitchen is run by Chef Avi Bitton, former chef of Adora.

We’re speechless 😶

A post shared by Café popular (@cafepopulartlv) on

Asia in the Yaffo flea market closed at the end of May, as did Ad Haetzem in Herzliya Pituach after 30 years of business. Ad Haetzem Express branches across Israel will remain in business, including a kosher branch in Raanana and the 12th branch will open in Herzliya Pituach, in place of the restaurant. This seems to be a trend with the move from old-school restaurants, in favor of high-end street food.

Other News and Events

Tel Aviv Cocktail Week takes place 27 May – 2 June 2018. Over 30 bars are taking part including The Norman, Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar, La Otra, Double Standard, and Tailor Made.

Eat TLV will be held in Charles Clore Park in Tel Aviv 29-31 May 2018. The event features food stands from some of Tel Aviv’s best restaurants and all dishes are up to NIS 35.

There will also be a Tel Aviv Cocktail Festival at Hatachana 6-7 June, 2018. Tickets are NIS 80 each and include 3 cocktails.

A new restaurant is opening in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel in Jerusalem called Ben Hamataim. It will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it looks like it will be a coffee shop and a chef restaurant.

Recent Posts

  1. Hotel Review: A charming oasis in the heart of Haifa
  2. Debbest: Cafés and Diners open in Jerusalem on Shabbat
  3. YTK – 24 New Kosher Restaurant Updates from Israel – Q1 2018

To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

Advertisements

December Foodie Roundup

Much as I try, I am not able to keep track of all the culinary news around the country, so I apologize in advance to those who have complained that these roundups are too Jerusalem and Tel Aviv centric. I am happy to receive foodie updates for those who live in the north or south and, of course, due credit will be given.

Jerusalem 

The much anticipated Memphis Burger (Kosher) opened their Jerusalem branch on Agripas at the beginning of December. Their burgers are beautifully seared with a crust on the outside and juicy in the middle.  At NIS 55 for 250g, they are more expensive than others in the area, but the quality of the meat definitely makes it worth it.  I have not yet tried the sweet potato fries but the regular fries are nothing special at all – which seems to be an issue in many burger places.

In case you have missed all the rave reviews, Harvey’s Smokehouse (Kosher)  has opened in the city center, in place of Gabriel, by the same owner, Harvey Sandler.  The US style smokehouse serves various meat dishes including brisket, ribs and chicken. Signature dishes include popcorn chicken, Kansas style burnt ends and cherry wood smoked asado.

Azza 40 has reopened in the city center as R&R Diner (Not Kosher).  The menu still has some of the same dishes, with some new additions. Traditional American diner dishes include Mac n Cheese, BLT, Reuben sandwich, burgers, home fries, pancakes and apple pie, click here for the full menu.

My American friend was impressed by the Reuben which was semi-authentic. The corn-beef was thinly sliced but it lacked sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese. If you plan to go at the weekend, make sure to call ahead to reserve, as they are already busy.

Smadar (Dairy-no teudah) in Smadar Cinema is under new ownership and has a new Italian menu.  It is still open on Shabbat so is not kosher but the menu is dairy.  I haven’t tried it myself but a reliable source reported that the food is authentic and well made.

Tel Aviv & Merkaz

Although the opening of the Gindi Fashion Mall in Tel Aviv has been far from successful, it has added a number of new restaurants to the area, including famed burger bar Susu & Sons, Asian noodle bar Zozobra, ice-cream and waffle bar La Gofre, Biga (Mehadrin) and Cafeteria. Ilan’s Café and Tatti Café are due to open soon, more information on all the restaurant options in the fall can be found here.  For now, they are offering three hours free parking (no validation required).

Cafeteria. is a European style coffee shop that has been nicely decorated with teal and pink velvet seats and brass fixtures.  The menu is very eclectic and in my opinion, is trying too hard to imitate an authentic European café.

My friends and I shared some very tasty Arancini (NIS 39) to start, and for the main course, I had Gnocchi with artichoke, asparagus, parmesan and sea bass (NIS 128) which was delicious.  One friend had the gnocchi without the fish (NIS 68) and another enjoyed the mushroom risotto (NIS 65).  We also shared a chocolate and salted caramel nemesis (NIS 38) for dessert, which was addictively good.  We all agreed that the food was very nice but the portions were not very big, compared to the price.  The service was temperamental but it seemed to be due to new and/or inexperienced staff. The full menu, including the business lunch option, can be found here (although it is not 100% accurate).

The Norman Hotel has opened Alena (Not Kosher) restaurant, a Mediterranean brasserie with a local influence, click here for a full menu.

Al Hamayim, Herzliya Pituach – the popular fish and sushi restaurant on Sharon Beach has become kosher.  The menu includes a variety of dairy and fish dishes, along with an extensive sushi selection, click here for the full menu.

Pasha Tel Aviv (Rehov HaArba’a) has closed down, which is a real shame as the food was always very reliable.

Coming Soon & Upcoming events

Liliyot (Kosher) restaurant has closed for renovations and will return with a new concept sometime in January.  I am not sure what it will be but I have been told it will be an exciting update.

Luis Angel, Leah and Yittie Stoffer plan to open a Mexican Taqueria called Tacos Luis (Kosher). Thanks to a Headstart campaign, they have raised over NIS 140, 000, so will soon be bringing authentic Wahacan street food to Jerusalem.

The Taste of Michelin returns to the David Intercontinental Hotel, January 8-14, 2018.  This year Aubergine restaurant will host Chef Daniel Corey of Luce from the InterContinental San Francisco.

Recent Posts

  1. A Japanese Gem in Jerusalem
  2. Debbest: Dining in Sarona
  3. Debbest: Quick Bites in Sarona Market

To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

Debbest: Street Food in the Shuk

Street food has been around for centuries but in the last few years it has become more popular the world over and Israel is no exception.  As the street food phenomenon has spread, new places have opened all over Israel but some of the best are in the Jerusalem shuk where you can now find a wide variety of interesting street food offerings including traditional dishes all over the world.

There are so many places to choose from but here are my top picks:

  1. Josef Burger

Even though other burger joints have opened in the area, Josef Burger is still my favorite. My preference is for the Angus Burger (NIS 45) which I find to be more tender and juicy than the house burger. They have a great choice of toppings and the service is normally quick and friendly. There is also a good business lunch deal for NIS 55 including a main, side dish and drink. My standard order is a medium Angus burger with goose breast and green salad and as a special treat, I will get goose liver and/or chlli pineapple.

Josef Burger (Kosher), 123 Agripas Street, 073 758 4219 – English menu.

Update – this post was written before Memphis Burger opened, which is now my joint favorite – 68 Agripas Street.

  1. Pasta Basta

The beauty of Pasta Basta is in the simplicity of the offering. First you choose your pasta, then a sauce and finally extra toppings, with the price starting at NIS 21.  The pasta is all freshly made on site and the sauces and toppings are equally fresh. My favorite choices are Gnocchi with butter and Parmesan sauce with extra zucchini (NIS 33) or Whole Wheat Fusilli with coconut curry sauce (NIS 24). They also serve soup, salad and wine from the barrel for NIS 16 a glass!

Pasta Basta (Hashgacha Pratit), 8 Hatut Street – English menu.

Keeping it simple #instafood #israelifoodie #streetfood @pastabasta_il #shuk

A post shared by Debbest Israel (@debbestisrael) on

  1. Dwiny Pita Bar

The concept at Dwiny is open or closed sandwiches so each dish can be ordered either inside a pillowy fresh pita, or on top of small toasted pita bruschetta style.  All the ingredients are fresh and interesting with fillings including seared entrecote, ossobuco, fried red mullet and crispy cauliflower.  My favorite dishes are the Entrecote pita (NIS 38) and the Lamb Siniya with tahina and pickled lemon (NIS 42).

Dwiny Pita Bar (Kosher), 6 Beit Ya’akov Street, 050 474 2428 – English menu.

  1. Fishenchips

As a Brit, nothing tastes quite like the real thing but Fishenchips is definitely the closest option I have had in Israel and it has already outlasted all its competition in the shuk.  The Mixed Crunchy Cod Goujons with chips (NIS 42) includes a mixture of batters and is probably the most popular dish but the Panko Red Tuna with chips (NIS 47) is also a delicious and interesting dish.

Fishenchips (Kosher- dairy/parev), 12 HaEgoz Street, 02 624 9503.

  1. Ishtabach

Since Ishtabach opened a few years ago, they have been so popular that they have already expanded twice, but they have managed to keep the intimacy of the service and atmosphere.  The specialty dish is Shamburak, a Kurdish Syrian pastry filled with meat and vegetables, baked in a stone oven and served with various homemade sauces and salads.  Fillings include Asian chicken (NIS 41), asado (NIS 45) and tongue (NIS 54) and there is also a vegetarian option and some salads on the menu.

Ishtabach (Mehadrin), 1 HaShikma Street, 02 623 2997 – English menu.

  1. Falafel Mullah

Everyone has their favorite falafel place, but my favorite is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you just want a snack, there is always the option for half a pita.  The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t. Falafel in pita is NIS 15 and in laffa is NIS 18.

Falafel Mullah (Kosher), 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov), 052 843 6476.

  1. Pizzeria Flora

Delicious authentic Italian pizza with a crispy base, doughy crust and high-quality ingredients.  Toppings include fresh mozzarella, Italian tomato sauce, rocket/arugula, parmesan, artichoke, egg and zucchini and prices start from NIS 44.  They also serve a great Blue Cheese Salad (NIS 33) with a tangy citrus vinaigrette.

Pizzeria Flora (Dairy – No Hechsher), 2 HaDekel Street, 02 622 2216.

זה החיים שלנו @preismansfoodphotography

A post shared by flora pizzeria (@flora_pizzeria) on

  1. Hatzot

This popular steakiah (meat grill) has a separate takeaway window along with street-side tables.  The extensive takeaway menu includes their famous Jerusalem mixed grill and my personal favorite, succulent pargit (NIS 54 in laffa), both with their secret spice mix. There is also a selection of salads and main courses in take-away containers, if you are extra hundry or don’t want bread.

Hatzot (Kosher), 121 Agripas Street, 073-7584204 – English menu.

  1. Jerusalem Steak House

For an authentic shawarma, Jerusalem Steak House is considered to be one of the best, with a good selection of fresh salads to go with it. Shawarma in pita is NIS 32 and in laffa is NIS 38 and they also do a half shawarma in either pita (NIS 18) or laffa (NIS 22).

Jerusalem Steak House (Mehadrin), 101 Agripas Street, 02 625 2745.

  1. HaChapuria

This popular Georgian bakery, specializes in Hachapuri, a selection of cheese filled breads.  My favorite is Acharuli (NIS 30 small, 35 large) which has a cracked egg on top, designed so you can break off the crispy crust and dip it into the cheese and egg center. They sell a variety of other Georgian pastries but the one with the egg on top is the most popular.

HaChapuria (Hashgacha Pratit) – 5 HaShikma Street (corner with HaEshkol).

Another place that deserves a special mention is is SushiYa, which is not technically in the shuk but is very close by and worth the extra walk.

The menu at SushiYa is limited and there is not much seating but the food is always incredibly fresh and well made.  The type of fish varies based on availability but they have all the standard sushi dishes and also serve a great poke bowl (and have done for years before they became so popular elsewhere).  The Fish bowl is NIS 35 and includes a mix of raw and cooked fish, with a selection of raw, cooked and pickled vegetables.  It is tasty, filling and great value.

SushiYa (Kosher) – 1 Trumpeldor Street (corner with Bezalel), 02 625 9055.

Fish bowl @sushiyabezalel. So tasty and filling #sushi #jerusalem #foodie #foodil

A post shared by Debbest Israel (@debbestisrael) on

There are so many other street food places that are worth visiting in the shuk, like Jachnun Bar for a Yemenite malawach, Argento for Argentinian empanadas or Pepito’s for arepas and Latin American sandwiches.

There are now also plenty of dessert options, including ice-cream at Mousseline, waffles at Soramelo, crepes at Sabayos or cinnamon buns at Urbun.

2014-01-08 22.13.07

Waffle at Soramelo

Click here to read more of Debbest.

Debbest: Tasting Tour of the Shuk

Although I am not a tour guide, I love showing visiting friends and family around the shuk area and sharing all its hidden treats. The following is a list of my top ten things to eat in and around Shuk Machane Yehuda.  It is too hard to list it in order of favorite, so instead, I have created a self-guided food tour of the shuk.

I learned recently that the shuk officially includes the row of shops which start on the corner of Agripas Street and Ki’ach Street so that is a great place to start (click here for a map).

  1. Potato Bureka @Burekas Ramla (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street

Like many traditional local foods, you will never get everyone to agree on their favorite version, but for me, these are without a doubt the best burekas I have ever tried.  Unlike the burekas you find in most bakeries around Israel that are made from puff pastry and come in different shapes, these Turkish burekas are made from filo pastry and all have a standard large sausage shape.   The tiny stall on this busy corner is an off-shoot of a bakery in Ramla and has a simple choice of potato, cheese or spinach.  The crunchy burekas can be eaten alone but I would recommend having it cut open and lined with hard-boiled egg, schug and tahina, for the ultimate comfort food delight.  My favorite is the Potato Bureka, but they are all delicious and are large enough to be a full meal.

Conveniently next door is my favorite juice bar in the city and trust me I have tried them all. Don’t be confused by the addresses, many of these places are tiny stalls which are part of the same building and this place is also very badly signed.

  1. Carrot & Ginger Juice or a Fresh Fruit Smoothie @Schutim (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street

Don’t let looks fool you, this shop might be small but they have a wonderful selection of fruits and vegetables and the prices are much better than the juice places further inside the market.  I normally go for a spicy carrot and ginger juice or a fresh fruit smoothie.  The guys who own it are also really friendly and you will always get service with a smile!

Walk down two stores for the next stop.

  1. Chocolate Rogelach @Marzipan Bakery (Badatz) – 44 Agripas Street

Famous the world over for making the best chocolate rogelach, this Marzipan Bakery is always full of locals and tourists filling boxes of rogelach as soon as they come out the oven.  Although the bakery sells many other delicious goodies, including other flavors of rogelach, the original chocolate are the most popular.  The secret ingredient is the sticky sugar syrup that is poured over them as they come out the oven and this also helps them last longer. Not only do they freeze really well, they are also really tasty straight from the freezer.   Pick up a few as a snack as you walk around the shuk or save them for later.

Walk along the street and take a right into the covered shuk to the second store on the left.

  1. Moroccan Cigars and Spicy Carrot Salad @Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher) – 70 Etz HaChaim Street

One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the crispiest Moroccan cigars and the best selection of take-away dips and salads in the city.  My personal choices are the Spicy Grated Carrot Salad and the Sweet Eggplant and Peanut Salad. I am also partial to their Schnitzel and Kubbe (meat or vegetarian).  A great place for buying takeout food on a Friday but be prepared to wait in line.

There is also a dairy deli diagonally opposite with a great selection of cheeses and there are other branches around the city.

Continue into the shuk, two doors up on the right.

  1. Sumac & Za’atar @Pereg Spices (Badatz) – 79 Etz HaChaim Street

The secret ingredient in many authentic middle-eastern dishes is usually the mix of spices so when tourists ask me for recommendations of things to take home with them, I normally suggest Sumac and Za’atar. Sumac is a wonderful slightly sour burgundy colored spice that can be used to season salads (especially Fattoush), grilled fish and meats. Za’atar is a mix of herbs and spices that typically includes ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, together with sesame seeds and sumac but can vary.  It can be sprinkled on white cheese, salads or used as a dip for bread.

Although the shuk is full of great spice shops, Pereg sells a particularly diverse selection and their pre-packaged jars travel well.  Other recommended products include shawarma spice, Sumsumiya (sesame, nut and honey spread) and a variety of rice seasoning mixes.

The next stop is diagonally opposite on the left.

  1. Coffee Halva & Chocolate Tahina @Halva Kingdom (Badatz) – 46 Etz HaChaim Street

Not many places in the shuk offer free tasters but Halva Kingdom always has someone standing outside their stores (there is a second one further inside the shuk) offering small squares of their Coffee Halva.  Tasting a sample is not an obligation to enter the store, they are used to passersby grabbing a morsel for a quick sugar fix.  The store has a selection of around 100 flavors of halva and they will normally let you try before you buy.  My personal favorites are the coffee and Belgian chocolate flavors and they just started selling pre-sealed jars so it can be easily transported.

They also sell various savory and sweet flavored tahina – the chocolate tahina is delicious and makes a healthy alternative to chocolate spread. I regularly take the halva and tahina as gifts for friends when I travel but make sure you pack it well so it doesn’t crack and leak all over your case (yes that happened!).

  1. Stinky Cheese @Basher Fromagerie – 53 Etz HaChaim Street

If cheese is your thing, then look no further than Basher Fromagerie for the best selection of cheeses in the country.  The Basher brothers are the main cheese importers in Israel and they stock cheese from all over the world that cannot be found in many places.  The friendly staff are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men and always try to give you more than you want.  Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue, make sure you check.

Keep to the left side to the corner of Etz HaChaim and Ha’Afersek Street.

  1. Cortado Coffee @Roasters (Kosher) – 20 HaAfarsek Street

Coffee lovers will be glad to know that one of the best coffee shops in the city is in the middle of the shuk.  Roasters offers the traditional selection of coffees as well as some more unusual ones, like the Spanish Cortado, which is a shot of espresso with an equal amount of warm milk to dilute the acidity but still remaining a strong short coffee.  Summer specials include cold brew coffee and Affogato (vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso). There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee or freshly ground coffee to take home.

Cortado and cake @roasterscoffebar #foodieisrael #shuk #coffee

A post shared by Debbest Israel (@debbestisrael) on

Walk to the end of HaAfarsek, turn right onto Machane Yehuda Street (the open shuk).  Keep to the left and take the last turning on the left, HaTut Street, before you reach Agripas (ReBar will be on the left corner).  Walk straight ahead to the end of that street and the next stop will be facing you on the right.

  1. Rambam’s Milk @Uzi Eli Etrog Man (Kosher) – 10 HaEgoz Street

One of the more famous stands in the shuk is Uzi Eli – the Etrog Man.  Uzi is a Yemenite healer who sells various Etrog based products to cure aches and pains.  The shop also sells a variety of freshly made juices including Etrog Gat for energy and apple with ginger for a sore throat.  My favorite choice is the Rambam drink which is almond milk with dates and other goodies.  They will always let you try before you buy or you can go for a taster shot of each one for only five shekels each.

Head back out to Agripas Street and turn right heading down the hill.  Continue down crossing over 2 side street until you reach the third side street, Beit Yaakov.

  1. Falafel @Falafel Mullah (Kosher) – 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov)

A visit to the shuk wouldn’t be the same without falafel and the best store to get from is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff will offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you are already too full from all the grazing along the way, there is always the option for half a pitta.  Although some argue that Falafel HaAchim Levi at the entrance to the open shuk is better, I prefer Mullah and it is located on a quieter corner and you can sit and enjoy your falafel in peace.  The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t.

That concludes my tasting tour of the shuk.  I hope you found the information helpful and please let me know if you want any other information about eating around the shuk.

For more information about shops in the shuk – take a look at the official shuk website (although it is very out of date!) and a helpful map of the shuk by tour guide Fun Joel.

Click here to read more of Debbest.

Debbest: Top Ten Kosher Restaurants in Israel

People are always asking me for my top ten favorites and I do believe there is no definitive list as it depends on the occasion, age, style of food and of course, most importantly, personal taste. Having said that I do like lists so why not write my own!

I have started with a list of my favorite kosher restaurants in Israel, as that seems to be the most requested and will move onto other categories in the next few months.  This list is based purely on my personal experience.  The menu in some places varies seasonally so I have tried to recommend dishes that are consistently on the menu or a similar variation of the same dish.  There is a carnivorous focus to my suggestions as that is my personal preference when eating out but where it is relevant I have included the link to a full review so you can find more suggestions.

  1. Jacko’s Street, Jerusalem

It will be no surprise to anybody that knows me personally or follows this blog that Jacko’s Street is my favorite restaurant in Israel (not just kosher ones) and will always be top on my list of recommendations. It is my go-to place for taking out-of-town guests and even those who don’t eat kosher are impressed by the creativity of the menu and energetic atmosphere in the restaurant – it epitomizes the expression “fun-dining”.

The menu is a Middle Eastern fusion, with many dishes offering an elevated version of traditional home-style recipes. My favorite starters are the Asado Bruschetta or the Red Tuna Fricasse and for mains, I normally order the Gourmet Burger, the Charred Steak or the Prime Rib, if I have a willing partner to share. After 9 pm the music is lively so if that is not what you are looking for, either go early or find somewhere else.

Jacko’s Street, 74 Agripas St, Jerusalem 02 581 7178 – full review here

It's all about the meat

A post shared by JACKOSSTREET (@jackosstreet74) on

  1. La Regence, King David Hotel, Jerusalem

For those looking for truly creative kosher dining, the tasting menu at La Regence is a unique experience.  As you would expect from The King David Hotel, the service is efficient and attentive.

The style of the menu is European with an Israeli twist. Signature dishes include the Tomato Leather filled with Sea Fish Salad and the Chicken Consommé to start, Roasted Duck confit with Black Garlic for main and the Chocolate & Olive Oil is an extraordinary dessert. At a cost of 380 NIS per guest, it is definitely a special occasion option for most people and it is a very formal, old-school hotel style restaurant. There is also the option to order from the regular menu.

La Regence, King David Hotel, Jerusalem, 02 620 8795 – full review here

Tomato “leather” filled with sea fish salad

  1. Rooftop, Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem

For the ultimate “Jerusalem” setting, Rooftop RestaurantMamilla Hotel is a must.  The view over the Old City is incomparable and the menu is always fresh and interesting with mostly Mediterranean dishes with a Middle Eastern influence.

I love the Iron-Rich Herb Salad, Duck in a Blanket and Grouper Shawarma starters. For main I cannot resist the Entrecote as it is one of my favorites in Jerusalem, but the Lamb Chops and the Bass are also great dishes. The service is slightly hit or miss but the view and quality of the food make it worthwhile.

Rooftop, Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem, 02 548 2230 – full review here.

  1. Herbert Samuel, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Herzliya Pituach

I have been fortunate to eat in Herbert Samuel in the Ritz Carlton Herzliya on a number of occasions and my overall experience has been very positive.

I tend to start with a light raw dish like the Red Tuna Crudo, Salmon or Beef Tartare.  The Tomato Salad is the Herbert Samuel signature dish and very popular.  If you are dining with a fellow carnivore then I recommend ordering the Beef Chateau or the Prime Rib as they are both great options for a minimum of 2 diners. The fish dishes are also delicious, especially the salmon and grouper.  All the chocolate related desserts are always incredible and worth saving room for. There is also a very impressive wine menu and the wine fridges line the length of the restaurant.

Herbert Samuel, Ritz Carlton Herzliya, Herzliya Pituach, 073 203 7596

 

  1. Blue Sky by Meir Adoni, Carlton Hotel, Tel Aviv

Yet another hotel restaurant, but the rooftop setting overlooking the Tel Aviv skyline and shoreline is spectacular, even in the winter.  Chef Meir Adoni is an incredibly creative chef who experiments with unusual flavor and texture combinations.

The menu changes regularly and the dishes I had are no longer on there but we all enjoyed everything we ordered. The menu is now entirely fish dishes and has more of an Asian twist than I remember, and I really don’t like his sister restaurant Lumina since it became some weird fusion, so I hope Blue Sky is still as good as it once was.

Blue Sky by Meir Adoni, Carlton Tel Aviv Hotel, 03 520 1830

  1. Gillis Steak House, Moshav Nov

Although Gillis is not a real restaurant, the food is so good it still qualifies for this list.  Gillis Steak House is only open on a Thursday night, the rest of the time it is a cattle farm and butcher.

The menu is simple – meat! Some dishes can be ordered individually, including a token chicken dish but for real carnivores, the tasting menus are the way to go.  There are various options depending on how much meat you want to receive, but it is all unbelievably delicious so I recommend going all out and getting the Just Beef tasting menu at NIS 238 per person.

The most unique aspect about the place is that the cooks are actually the farm workers, who just know how to cook the meat well and honor its true flavor – there are no special sauces or fancy plating, just delicious well-cooked high-quality beef.  The service is incredibly warm and the Gillis family personally host all their guests.

Gillis Steak House, Moshav Nov, Golan, 04 676 3555 – full review here

  1. Muza Bahar, Shoresh

Day or night, Muza Bahar is a scenic way to enjoy a very good meal. The Duck Fillet is a clear winner in the starters.  The duck is well cooked and it is served with caramelized apples and a Calvados foam, which perfectly complement the flavors of the duck.

For main, I normally order the Cote de Boeuf (500g Rib Eye) which is a serious piece of meat but it is well aged and the bone marrow accompaniment makes it even more indulgent. The Trio of Mini Burgers are also very interesting and the Salmon Fillet is a great alternative for non-meat eaters.

The desserts are all beautifully presented but the Deconstructed Lemon Pie was the most interesting and least parev tasting of them all.

Muza Bahar, Shoresh, 02 624 6897 – full review here

Muza Bahar. (photo credit:PR)

  1. Whiskey Bar & Museum, Sarona Tel Aviv

I debated where to include Whiskey Bar in this list as the food and service are not always perfect but the setting and concept are so unique and it is also much better than many of the other kosher meat restaurants in Tel Aviv.

It is located in the basement of a Templar building in Sarona, with walls lined with over 1000 types of whiskey, but it is still enjoyable for non-whiskey drinkers like myself.

The Beef Carpaccio and Liver Pate are tasty starters and the Prime Rib and Lamb Chops are succulent mains. The chocolate mousse with smoked whiskey is a shining favorite for everyone.

Whiskey Bar & Museum, Sarona Tel Aviv, 03 955 1105

  1. Minato, Herzliya Pituach

Possibly one of the best sushi restaurants in Israel, the quality of the ingredients and the precise of the preparation is what distinguishes Minato from most sushi places in Israel. The menu also includes some delicious cooked dishes like Agedashi Tofu, Katsu Chicken and Minato Yakiniku (entrecote with a mild mirin sauce).

The design of the restaurant and the dishes used are beautiful and add to the dining experience. The only downside is that the restaurant is on the small side so space is limited.

Minato,  8 Ha’menofim St., Herzliya Pituach, 09 773 1703

  1. 5th Avenue, Eilat

Beautifully presented food, great raw ingredients and rich and flavorful dishes.  5th Avenue became kosher in February 2018 and the menu was designed by Chef Aviv Moshe of Messa and Quattro in Tel Aviv.  Delicious starters include beef empanadas, salmon tartar and goose liver mille-feuille. For the main course, indulge yourselves with beef fillet and truffle mash, or the tortellini of veal cheek served with a goose liver and teriyaki sauce.  The desserts are worth saving room for, especially the creme brulee semi fredo and the textures of chocolate

5th Avenue, Eilat, 08  633 3303  – full review here

I have to admit that I have not yet tried the new Karibu restaurant in the Queen of Sheba but if I had one night in Eilat, I would go back to 5th Avenue rather than try a new place!

Other great kosher restaurants that didn’t quite make the list are 1868 in Jerusalem, Meat Kitchen in Tel Aviv,  Oratorio in the Elma Hotel in Zichron and the restaurants in the Beresheet and Cramim hotels.  Although I find hotel restaurants often lack atmosphere, the fact that they cater to tourists often means the standard of food and service are better.

I should mention that I have not eaten at either Cà Phê Hanoi or Olive Leaf in Tel Aviv but both are meant to be great kosher restaurants. I would love to hear what other top ten lists you want to see and what your top kosher restaurants are.

Click here to read more of Debbest.

Debbest: Shopping in the Shuk

Before I lived next to Shuk Machane Yehuda, I used to occasionally buy some specialty foods there but the rest was pretty much a mystery to me.  Having spent the last four years shopping regularly in the shuk, I have come to learn the ins and outs of where to shop for the best produce.  Some of my favorite stalls are not always the cheapest but they either have the best produce and/or staff that I trust not to rip me off, so here is my guide to shopping in the shuk.

  1. Meat – Mizrachi Butchers

I discovered this place by accident but later found out that many of my friends, including two chefs, also get their meat there.  Mizrachi has a great selection of meats, it is clean and Nissim is always friendly and very helpful.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the Israeli number system for meat, just tell him what you plan to cook and he will give you the right cut of meat.  He also recently started stocking antibiotic-free chicken and often has duck and other specialty products.

Insider Tip –  open late on a Friday afternoon and closed on Sunday.

Mizrachi Butchers (Kosher), 13 HaCheruv Street (corner of HaTut), Nissim Mizrachi, 02 624 3939/050 785 4569.

  1. Fish – David Dagim

You might be able to find cheaper fish in the shuk, but David Dagim is unbeatable on selection and quality so I personally prefer to pay a bit extra and know that I am getting the freshest fish. There is always a line of people from all over the city waiting to order and receive recommendations from the owners.  They will prepare and pack the fish however you want it and they deliver.

Insider Tip – ask for sushi grade fish to make your own sushi. Closed on Sunday

David Dagim (Badatz), 15 HaShaked Street, 02-586 7640 – English order form online.

  1. Fruit – Open Shuk

The great thing about fruit in Israel is that you mostly get local fruit that is in season so you can be sure that it is fresh and usually well priced (here is a calendar of local produce).  From my experience, the Yaffo end of the open shuk (Machane Yehuda Street) is the best place to buy fruit based on price and quality.  There are some places in the closed shuk that have better quality but their prices are much higher.  There is no particular place that I buy everything but between the various stalls on both sides of the street, I look around, compare the quality and prices and find what I need.

Fruit in Machne Yehuda (from machne.co.il)

  1. Vegetables – Iraqi shuk

If you enter the Iraqi shuk from the main entrance in the middle of the open shuk, at the end of the first alley is a large vegetable store on the left. There is always a great selection of well-priced fresh vegetables.  The store opposite can be cheaper but the selection and quality is not as good.

I buy my lettuce and fresh herbs from a small store further into the Iraqi shuk, opposite Argento (at the end of the first alley, turn right and the store is the second on the left).  I will sometimes buy radishes, green beans and individual potatoes from the various stores further into the Iraqi shuk which all seem to specialize in a few specific types of vegetables.

  1. Spices – Ras el Hanut

There are so many spice stores in the shuk, it is mostly a matter of personal taste and for years I shopped at Pereg as they have a great selection of loose spices, as well as pre-packaged jars.  But when Ras el Hanut opened a new store earlier in the year, I jumped ship.  The store is not only large and well laid out, I find the quality to be very good, the staff incredibly helpful and the products well priced.  They provide spice mixes for restaurants in the area like Hatzot, Jacko’s Street, Machneyuda, Rachmo and Pinati and will help put together your own spice mix on request.

As well as buying spices and some grains from them, I also like that they will grind nuts to order and you can request if you want a fine meal or chunky.  They also have a great selection of dairy and parev chocolate buttons which are ideal for melting for chocolate desserts.

Ras el Hanut (Kosher), 72 Agripas Street, corner of HaArmonim Street, 02 641 1711, online orders and delivery available. All loose products are Badatz.

  1. Bread – Teller Bakery

Most restaurants in Jerusalem get their bread supplied by Teller Bakery. Although there is a small stand in the shuk, the full selection of their breads is only available from their store. The majority of their bread is sourdough, except the focaccia and challot and if you get there early enough on a Friday, they do great whole grain challot. As well as some specialty flavored breads, they also make special rolls for making soup in a roll.

Favorite food – blueberry and walnut sourdough.

Insider Tip – all their bread and pastries are sold for half price at the end of each day at 18:45 and 30 minutes before closing on a Friday– but be warned, there is always a line and it is a literal “bun-fight”. The bread freezes very well, even when sliced.

Teller Bakery (Mehadrin), main bakery @74 Agripas Street with a stand in the shuk @Eliyahu Banai Street, corner of Etz HaChaim Street, 02 622 3227.

  1. Coffee – Roasters

Coffee lovers will be glad to know that one of the best coffee shops in the city is in the middle of the shuk.  Roasters offers delicious coffee to sit and watch the world go by, take away and drink while you shop or freshly ground coffee to take home.  There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee.

Favorite food – Cortado coffee, ice-coffee and almond & raspberry tart.

Roasters (Kosher), 20 HaAfarsek Street, 054 671 0296.

  1. Dips and Salads – Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu

One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the best choice of take-away dips and salads in the city.  They also have a great selection of fried foods like cigars, schnitzel and kubbe (meat or vegetarian).  A great place for buying take-out food on a Friday but be ready to wait in line.

Favorite food – Moroccan cigars and spicy grated carrot salad.

Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher), 70 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 624 3322/ 054 694 9403, catering available.

  1. Cheese – Basher Fromagerie

If cheese is your thing, then look no further than Basher Fromagerie for the best selection of cheeses in the country.  The Basher brothers are the main cheese importers in Israel and they stock cheese from all over the world that cannot be found in many places in Israel.  Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue for you, make sure you ask to see the hechsher.

If you prefer a fully kosher shop, the dairy Tzidkiyahu deli (opposite the meat deli on Etz HaChaim Street) has a great choice of kosher cheeses including authentic kosher Parmigiano Reggiano.

Insider Tip – the staff at Basher are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men and will try to sell you more than you want.

Basher Fromagerie (No Hechsher), 53 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 625 7969, telephone orders available.

  1. Health Food – Hadasa Teva

Although the shop is small, it is well stocked and has better prices than the other health stores in the area, with friendly and knowledgeable staff. I buy most of my grains by the weight here, such as oats, rice and quinoa, and unlike many other stores in the shuk, I have never had a problem finding bugs inside (although I always put them all in the freezer for 24 hours just to be safe). They have a great choice of chocolate, including some artisanal low sugar and dairy free options.

Favorite food – coconut water with pineapple and Holy Cacao chocolate bars.

Insider Tip – they sell 12 large organic eggs at a fixed price of NIS 19 and often have special offers on other items.

Hadasa Teva (Kosher), 2 Beit Yaakov Street (near the corner of Yaffo), 02 664 4332 – online orders and delivery available. Most products are Badatz.

For more information about shops in the shuk – take a look at the official shuk website (although it is very out of date!) and a helpful map of the shuk by tour guide Fun Joel.

Click here to read more of Debbest.

September Foodie Roundup

I decided to write the August Roundup post as a way to easily update those who are often asking about new places opening or don’t know about places closing.  It was purely an experiment – but apparently a good one as in just a few days it became one of the most viewed posts on my blog and three different restaurant owners go in touch with me wanting to make sure I had the information I needed about their business.

So, it looks like this will become a regular feature and as always, I would be happy to hear feedback, but I cannot promise that I will follow it 😊.

Jerusalem News

JLM Local Sushi (Kosher) – the owners of 1868 have decided to close Marvin Wine & Food and replace it with a sushi restaurant. They officially opened this week with a fish and meat menu but vegan and vegetarian dishes are clearly marked – click here for the dinner menu. I am sure the food will be just as delicious and creative as the rest of the restaurants in the 1868 group (1868 review and Zuta Bar review).

Villa Brown (Hashgacha Pratit) – a boutique hotel from the Brown hotel group has opened on Ha’Neviim Street and includes Cave Bar, a cocktail and wine bar in the basement of the hotel.  Rumor has it that the hotel serves high-tea, I plan to visit soon and will report back.

Valero (Not Kosher) – new chef restaurant and bar from Chef Aviv Moshe (Messa & Quattro) on the corner of Agripas and Beit Yaakov has finally opened.  The name Valero is apparently the originally name for the shuk area. It is a soft opening with a trial menu and 20% off – click here for the menu in Hebrew. The place is beautifully decorated and well laid out and I hope the food is as good as his other restaurants!

Orient Jerusalem – Isrotel have finally opened a hotel in Jerusalem at the crossroads of Emek Refaim and Derech Bet Lechem.  The hotel has a dairy café in the lobby and buffet breakfast and dinner.  The food at the Isrotel Exclusive Collection hotels is normally excellent and reports so far have been very positive.

Urbun (Mehadrin) – Urban café near the shuk, which opened at the end of June, has changed its name to Urbun and will focus only on desserts and pastries.  People are raving about their Cinnamon Buns.

Babka @Urbun

Tel Aviv & Merkaz News

Bar B Que – Australian Grill (Kosher) – a new restaurant in Herzliya Pituach industrial area, focused all types of meat. The owner is Australian with South African origins so expect amazing flavors and sauces! The picture below says it all!

Cà Phê Hanoi (Kosher) – it may have been open for a few months already but this Vietnamese restaurant with a French and Israeli twist is definitely the hot ticket in town. If you can actually get through to make a booking, then apparently it is worth the wait, so far I have not been so lucky.  Apparently the service is hit or miss but the creativity of the food makes up for it.

Our version of love ❤

A post shared by Caphehanoi (@caphehanoi) on

Upcoming Foodie Events

Round Tables by American Express, October 31- November 17, 2017 – which includes Mona in Jerusalem and one kosher option at Hayakron 99 at the Dan Tel Aviv – full details here.  It is nearly sold out so book fast!

Maido Peru - Vegan Cheesecake

Maido Peru – Vegan Cheesecake

Open Restaurants Jerusalem – 14-18 November 2017 – some of the events are already listed on their website but the full schedule, including some events in English,  will only be up in early October and booking starts on October 15 so there is plenty of time to have a look and decide what you want to go to.  Here are my posts on Open Restaurants 2016 and a cocktail workshop I attended last year.

Coming Soon

Memphis Burger (Kosher) is planning to open a Jerusalem branch on Agripas after the chagim. Those who have been to the Tel Aviv branch, will know how exciting this news is.  Even though there are already a number of burgers places in that area and I am a died hard Josef Burger fan, the taste and quality of the burgers at Memphis is amazing.  Last time I was there, I had the 250g burger (NIS 55) which was thick and juicy, with a great crust on the outside, something you don’t get in the other places.

Memphis Burger

In other news, Israeli Social Eating company EatWith has been sold to European rival VizEat, read the full story here.

To read previous monthly round ups, click here.

August Foodie Roundup

As the restaurant scene in Israel is so dynamic, I thought it would be helpful to start writing updates on recent openings and closings.  The focus will be on my hometown Jerusalem, but I will also include other news from the last few months.

Jerusalem Openings 

  1. Urban Café (Mehadrin) – a small dairy chef cafe near the shuk with elevated salads, sandwiches and pizzas.  The ingredients are fresh and the menu is creative.  I loved the tuna melt and their brownies and cookies look delicious.
  2. Bakshish (Kosher) – the sous-chef from Jacko’s Street has opened a tapas and cocktail bar in the old Jacko’s Street location.  Very much a bar with food, the decor is beautiful, the bar is very well stocked and the tapas dishes are nicely presented and executed.  Mostly an Israeli crowd, but it is good to have a fancy bar in the shuk area.

    Roast Beef Bruschetta @Bakshish

  3. Ofaimme (Kosher) – Ofaimme Farm has opened a second branch in Beit Hansen serving organic farm to table produce with a focus on cheese and pastries. There is also a shop attached to buy produce to take home.
  4. Rachel ba Sdera (Kosher) – thanks to Rachel from MasterChef, Jerusalem finally has its own Boulevard cafe on Sderot Ben Maimon in Rehavia.  The small kiosk sells salads, sandwiches and drinks.
  5. Amster Bar (Mehadrin) – Dutch style chips/fries in the shuk (Rehov Haegoz) with loads of interesting sauces including chocolate, peanut butter and alfredo. They also have sausages and a large selection of beers.
  6. Hatch – a craft beer taproom with artisanal sausages which is directly opposite Amster Bar (where Steam used to be). Not been myself but reports so far have been very good.
  7. Hamotzi (Kosher)– moved location and is now on Rehov Yafo, right next to the entrance to the closed shuk.  The location is much bigger with an upstairs gallery and lots of tables outside.

Crispy desserts from Hamotzi opening party

Tel Aviv Openings 

  1. Kukuriku (Not Kosher)– Chef Ran Shmueli of Claro fame, has opened a rotisserie chicken stall in Sarona market.
  2. Calypso (Not Kosher) – Tel Aviv finally has a chef restaurant on the beach, thanks to Omer Miller of HaShulchan and Susu & Sons.  The traditional seafood tavern on Frishman Beach is open day and night.

Closings

  1. Fish and Chips by Fauchon in Sarona Market has closed down – the setting and concept never seemed to work.  It will be interesting to see what opens instead in such a prime position. Netachim inside Sarona Market has also closed but Fleishman Deli is still open and their sandwiches are delicious.
  2. Crubis and Tahrir in the Jerusalem shuk have both closed down, leaving two more stalls for new places to open in.

Coming Soon

Chef Aviv Moshe, one of Israel’s best chefs, is opening a bar and restaurant on the corner of Beit Yaakov and Agripas called Valero. He is most well known for his restaurants Messa and Quattro in Tel Aviv so I am excited to see what the concept will be for this new venture in Jerusalem.

My Recent Reviews

  1. La Padella brings a taste of Europe to the Jerusalem Shuk
  2. Hotel Review: Ultimate Urban Style at Ultra
  3. Jacko’s Street: A Winning Combination
  4. Les Jumelles – A new French Café near Abu Ghosh

Let me know if you like this style of posts and if there is anything else i should include in the future.

La Padella brings a taste of Europe to the Jerusalem Shuk

Breakfast and More Morning to Night

Street food options in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market are plentiful, with new places opening up all the time. But for those of us who sometimes prefer to sit in a proper café and enjoy an indulgent brunch, the options are more limited. Luckily, La Padella has changed that.

The restaurant has a diverse menu that includes more than 10 types of breakfast, as well as an interesting selection of sandwiches, salads, rich main courses and decadent desserts. Located in the space where Café Mizrachi once stood, La Padella has quickly become popular with both locals and groups touring the shuk (it can seat up to 25 people at a long table).

As with many places in the shuk, at night La Padella turns into a bar with a less than standard wine and cocktail menu and a well-stocked bar. We enjoyed a refreshing glass of Psagot White Seven (NIS 30/glass and NIS 95/bottle) with our meal but hope to go back soon to try the cocktails.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

French breakfast

Mac & Cheese

Cheesy Fries

La Padella, +972(0)2 624 2105, Kosher Mehadrin

Foodie score 7/10, FODMAP friendly score 7.5/10

Jacko’s Street: A Winning Combination

Jacko’s has all the right ingredients for a memorable dining experience

If eating at a restaurant was just about the food, then I don’t think the restaurant industry would survive. A dining experience is not just about the food but rather the whole experience, including the service and the ambience. Many restaurants in Israel fail by not considering the experience they offer diners.

Jacko’s Street opened four years ago in Jerusalem and was the first kosher chef restaurant in the Mahaneh Yehuda market area. As the small streets around the shuk started to fill with more and more eating options, the popularity of Jacko’s also grew. In my opinion, the success of Jacko’s Street is due to its understanding that it is important to offer people more than just great food.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Asado Credit Sivan Shuv Ami

Asado Credit Sivan Shuv Ami

Goose Liver Semolina Cake

Beef Fillet Credit: Sivan Shuv Ami

Beef Carpaccio Credit: Sivan Shuv Ami

Fish Bruschetta

Jacko’s Street, +972 (0)2 581 7178, Kosher

Foodie score 9/10, FODMAP friendly score 8/10