If there’s one thing I love about touring a foreign country, it’s definitely the food. The smells and tastes of fresh, glorious, appetizing food as it is served from the loving hands of mama… oh wait, we’re in a foreign country, mama’s not here to prepare our old times favourite, and still, when that delicious smell fills your nose, that’s when you know you found a good restaurant to dine your heart at!
In recent years, Jerusalem restaurants have seen some major improvements in the quality of both the food and the service. You can find gourmet restaurants with pricy yet delicious and super creative dishes, or do with a more down-to-earth meal if you’re on a budget. Either way, you’re in for a ride of adventures!
But being a tourist, the most interesting restaurants you’ll want to find are the ones that the locals eat in. So with no further due, here are my top 7 choices for delicious Jerusalem restaurants you should most definitely check out!
This tastefully designed North African restaurant is well hidden in the allies of the picturesque Mahane Yehuda Market. It serves what Israeli’s call “home-food”, the type of food that families go through so much trouble just to sit together around the table on a friday night and eat, and eat, and eat some more. This includes a fusion of tastes and textures, starting from the famous moroccan carrot salad, through to meat dishes accompanied by cooked root veggies and lots of spices. It also serves “Memulaim”- a traditional dish whereby veggies are stuffed with rice and meat, creating an orgazmic mixture that empties plates in a matter of seconds. So if you’re going on a date or a family dinner, Hamozie may well be a place to remember.
- Address: 4 Mashiach Baruchof street, Jerusalem
- Tel: 02-6310050
- Price range: 59-69 NIS per main course at lunchtime, or 68-92 NIS at dinner time
- Opening hours: Sun-Thur 12:00-23:00, Fri 11:30-16:30
The Armenian Tavern provides a rare opportunity for Jerusalemites and visitors to learn about the Armenian way of life, their history and traditions, and of course, their marvelous food. The place is decorated from head to toe with beautiful Armenian crafts, giving it the look and feel of a museum.The food itself is produced with much love, and includes lachmanjun (Armenian-style meat pizzas), basturma (dried spiced meat), and Armenian variations of shishlik, kebab and the Jerusalem mixed grill.
- Address: 79 Armenian Patriarchate Road, Old City, Jerusalem, 91140
- Tel: 02-6273854
- Price range: 55-80 NIS per main course
- Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12:00-22:00, Sun Closed
Looks can be deceiving. Walking into the Marakiya, you may feel struck by the unrefined appearance of the place, which includes antiques, unmatching chairs, and tables covered with anonymous passport photos- not the kind of looks you’d expect from a renowned Jerusalem soup house. And still, on a cold winter day, there’s nothing more comforting then to step into the soup house and enjoy a bowl of vegetarian soup, which is always fresh and delicious.
As an unofficial activists hub, the place has a very social vibe to it. You can sit down at the long table in the middle of the room and enjoy a random conversation with other diners, or get intimately crowded on a music night- typically live jazz- when all the chairs and tables are moved aside to clear room for the musicians, bringing people closer together. To sum things up, if you’re looking for an authentic Jerusalem experience, visit the Marakiya, and get ready to be surprised!
- Address: 4 Koresh street, down town Jerusalem
- Tel: 02-6257797
- Price range: 20-28 Shekels per soup
- Opening hours: Sun-Thu 18:00-02:00
Nafoura Restaurant is located in the heart of the christian quarter of the old city, right next to Jaffa gate. The restaurant’s dining areas sprawl gracefully over almost a quarter acre of archaeological columns, gardens and fountains, providing a tranquil haven for visitors, away from the noise and the bustle of the bazaars. The dishes are classic middle-eastern and include grilled lamb, Kebabs, salads, fish and sea food. To make a long story short, if you’re visiting the old city and you’re looking for somewhere fancy to eat, be sure to visit Nafoura for an unforgettable experience.
- Address: 26 Latin Patriarchate RD. Jaffa Gate
- Tel: +972 2 626 00 34
- Price range: 70-105 Shekels per main course
Azkadinya is a continental-middle eastern restaurant located in east Jerusalem. It’s a lovely little place, offering a nice and tranquil atmosphere, and a perfect way to end a busy day of sightseeing at the old city or nearby. Mix that with original flavours like mustard-dressed lamb with artichoke hearts and caramel coated steak, and you’re in for a truly remarkable culinary experience.
- Address: 21 Shimon Ha-Tzadik street, Jerusalem
- Phone: 02-532-4590
- Price range: 80- 140 Shekels per main course
- Opening hours: Sun- Sat 12:00-24:00
Cafe Kadosh is a family run restaurant and patisserie, and one of the oldest cafes in Jerusalem, founded in 1967 in the heart of the “new” city center. The design of the place is classic European, resembling the famous cafes of Paris, with an irresistible scent of bakes and cakes constantly in the air.
Over the years, Cafe Kadosh has been gaining recognition for it’s stylish dishes, which include fresh and smoked fish, quiches, pastas, salads, sandwiches and of course, their fine desserts. All food is made in-house, using quality materials, making it the perfect place for your holiday breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Address: 6 Shlomzion Hamalka
- Phone: 053-8094518
- Price range: 50-100 NIS per main course
- Opening hours:
Sun- Thu 07:00- 24:00
Fri 07:00 – hour before sabbath
Sat Half an hour after Shabbat ends, until the 01:00
Machneyuda, as the name implies, resides at the center of the mahane yehuda market, and just like its surrounding, the restaurant too is colorful, authentic and full of character. Known for it’s original dishes like polenta porridge and the famous Hamshuka, Machneyuda has been gaining recognition as one of the best restaurants in Israel, with diners coming from all over the country to experience the vibrant atmosphere and rich flavours. The menu is seasonal and changes every week, and generally includes everything- from fish tartar to chicken soup, Jahnoon and lobsters. So if you’re looking for a place for a romantic date, a family meal or just some good time with friends, come to Mahaneyuda and have a night to remember!
- Address: 10 Beit Ya’acov Street, Mahane Yahuda market
- Tel: 02-5333442
- Price range: 77-158 NIS per main course
- Opening hours: Sun-Thu 12:30-16:00, 18:30-24:00 | Fri 11:30- 15:30 | Sat from the end of shabbat till 24:00