I follow a low FODMAP diet, something which is increasingly known in the US and Europe but virtually unknown in Israel (for more information, click here).
There is very little information about FODMAP friendly places in Israel in general but from my experience, Jerusalem restaurants are more willing to accommodate changes in dishes on the menu more than in Tel Aviv and other cities I have been to. I will try to share my suggestions of where to eat and where to avoid. I was inspired to create these tips and list by this great blog based in NYC, http://www.fodmapinthecity.com/.
My tips on eating out in Israel should be all accommodating as I have had a severe intolerance to onion for over 15 years and I follow the SIBO diet (combination of low FODMAP and low SCD) so that makes my options even more limited. I do sometimes cheat but usually suffer the consequences after.
Here are some general tips for eating in restaurants in Israel:
- Do not bother to explain the full FODMAP limitations, the most important ones for most menus is no onion, garlic or sauces and gluten free if relevant.
- Always tell the server that you are allergic to onion and garlic – they do not understand the term intolerance, they will just think you are just being difficult.
- Insist that they write on your order no onion or garlic even if these are not mentioned on the menu and the server says the dish does not contain either- i have sent back so many dishes where the menu didnt mention onion, the server didnt think the dish had onion or the kitchen added something as a garnish.
- Make sure you explain that onion includes all types of onions, white onion, red onion and green onion (what they call scallions/spring onion).
- When ordering a salad, always ask for the dressing on the side – even if they say they are giving you olive oil and lemon, they will often put on something else. If you get the dressing yourself, you should be able to see that it is right, or at worse try a small amount.
- Do not be afraid to ask for something special. Some places will accommodate, some wont but if you don’t ask, you wont find out.
- Don’t get frustrated if you have to ask the same thing a few times. I recently spent 15 minutes trying to order a simple salad in the restaurant. They were trying to convince me it wouldn’t taste good and to order something else, but i politely stood my ground and got exactly what i asked for and was happy with it.
I will add specific suggestions in the blog posts that will follow but for now here is a list of places I have tried and their FODMAP friendly score.
- Josef’s Burger: 10/10 – burger no bun, goose breast or fried egg and side salad or burger salad or gluten free bun (for those who can eat corn).
- Hasadna, Jerusalem: 9/10 – grilled fish or steak with green beans. Chef also made me an amazing raw fish starter and is very accommodating.
- Jacko’s Street: 9/10 – very little onion and chef will adapt dishes if he can. Safest option is entrecote with green beans or the burger without the bun.
- Anna Italian Cafe – 9/10 – made a special garlic free sauce for my fish.
- The Notre Dame Cheese and Wine Restaurant, Jerusalem: 9/10- grilled salmon with steamed vegetables.
- Cafe de Paris: 8/10 – grilled fish and green beans.
- Chakra: 8/10 – recommended dishes steamed salmon and green vegetables or steak and beans.
- Machneyuda :8/10 -grilled fish or steak with green vegetables.
- Michmoret, Shuk: 8/10 – grilled fish and vegetables.
- Happy Fish: 7/10 – very disappointing food but grilled fish is FODMAP friendly.
- Trattoria Haba: 5/10 -good for breakfast but other food is harder and servers are not helpful at all.
- Crave: 6/10 – the dishes have too many ingredients and although some can be made without onion and garlic, there are still many sauces included so not ideal if you are on a strict FODMAP diet.
- Carmelli Bagels, Sarona Market: 10/10 – make your own salad bar – if you dont take the bagel you get an extra serving of protein.
- Marinado, Sarona Market: 9/10 – burger no bun and side salad or any grilled meat.
- Agadir Burger, Tel Aviv and Herzliya: 9/10 – Angus burger no bun, goose breast or fried egg and green beans (all other burgers have onion in the meat mix).
- Deli Fleishman, Sarona Market: 8/10 – Brooklyn sandwich on Sour dough roll (which i can tolerate) but switch the sauces that have onion and garlic for other ones.
- Pasha: 7/10 – grilled pargit or entrecote and grilled zucchini. No starter salads suitable.
- Rak Basar: 8/10 – the meat is easy, the salads not so much – 2 failed attempts at giving me the herb salad without onion but they eventually got it right and were very apologetic.
- Fishop, Sarona Market: 7/10 – grilled fish with green beans
- Kitchen Market: 7/10 – it look a long time for them to work out what i could have but the end result was delicious.
- Mashya 7/10 – waiter was very helpful and tuna sashimi came with leek which wasnt listed on the menu but i was able to pick it off as it was just decoration
- Yankale, Herzliya Pituach: 9/10 – salad Nicoise or quinoa salad.
- Pescado, Ashdod: 7/10 – grilled fish.
- Muza Bahar: 7/10 – Entrecote – no sauce or grilled salmon – no sauce. Need to remind them a few times.
- Santa Katarina, Tel Aviv: 5/10 – only agreed to change the dish when the chef came to tell me he couldn’t take responsibility for it tasting good!
- Derby Fish Bar, Tel Aviv: 3/10 – very unhelpful, no FODMAP friendly side dishes.
- Lumina by Meir Adoni, Tel Aviv: 2/10 – very unwilling to accommodate, nearly walked out but was with other people so didn’t.
- Mitzi’s, Shuk: 3/10 – burger, grilled chicken or sliced steak on a bed of salad are i theory OK but they don’t clean the salad bowl between customers (despite requesting) and numerous times I have found onion in my salad and the last time I was there the owner was incredibly rude to me so as a result my ranking for them has dropped from 8 to 3.
- Dallal: 3/10 – I spent 15 minutes trying to order a simple salad. They kept trying to convince me it wouldn’t taste good and to order something else, but there was very little on the menu that i could have. They eventually gave me a very simple salad but were not happy about it.
- Black Burger – 1/10 – all burgers have onion in the meat mix, salads are pre-mixed and chicken came with a sauce all over even when asked without.
- Fresh Kitchen: 0/10 – most components of the salad are premixed so could not accommodate changes.
- Biga, Tel Aviv: 0/10 – refused to accommodate menu changes and would not make anything for me so left.