Israel 2012: Food and Drink

by | May 29, 2012 | Food & Drink, International Travel, Travel

Throughout our trip we had a great time sampling all sorts of local dishes from Galilee to the Dead Sea. Most meals we ate in places that served Mediterranean or Middle Eastern-styles and we were rewarded with several tasty meals filled with little plates of various sides and heavenly smells. Plus, I am proud to say that I ate hummus every day! We also managed to eat at the top two rated Jerusalem restaurants according to TripAdvisor. :)

Big Ben and Restaurant, Tiberius
After flying halfway around the world, waiting over an hour for the rental car and then driving 3 hours, I was ready for some food and a beer. So, we set off to the main promenade in Tiberius. Many places looked okay, but this place was fairly full on a Thursday night and once we ordered and the food starting arriving, we knew we made the right decision. The service was a little slow but the food was all delicious. Kebobs, hummus, and more salads and sides than I can fit in one photo…

hummus and mezze
the best hummus on the entire trip, surrounded by plates of additional sauces and sides

Rooster Cafe (?), Nazareth
After wandering around several churches, we had to grab a quick snack while we still had time on the meter so we picked this place adjacent to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. The hummus was just okay and it inexplicably took the waitress an extra 10 minutes to bring out the pita bread after the hummus arrived, but the fried pastries were good. Eric also enjoyed a lemonade with mint.

we enjoyed the shaded outdoor seating

Shiri Bistro, Rosh Pina
I made a reservation in advance because many restaurants close early on Fridays due to Shabbat. We sat outside on the covered patio and ordered a bottle of sparkling rose and some stuffed figs to start. Each of us ordered a different pasta dish and all were spectacular. My sweet potato gnocchi were delicious, with the right amount of sweetness. We ended the evening with a glass of wine in the wine bar, where the bartender helpfully let us sample a few Israeli wines to make a selection. This restaurant had the most extensive selection of wines from Israel on our trip and was well worth the drive from Tiberius.

figs stuffed with goat cheese and spices on a pesto sauce

us at dinner @ Shiri Bistro
enjoying a glass of sparkling Israeli rose at dusk

Taj Mahal, Ein Bokek
This resort town on the Dead Sea only had a few dining options outside of hotels, and McDonald’s doesn’t cut it on our list, so I made reservations here before we left. The restaurant is in a large tent with seating on floor cushions surrounded by pillows in front of a low table. A bottle of Cava was the best deal and it complimented our salads, hummus and kebobs well. The red tomato stuff (which I now know to be matbucha and have made a few times since our return) and the olives were a big hit, and the Israeli salad was absolutely enormous, enough for 3-4 people easily. My only gripe was with the pita bread, the ones on top were hot but on the bottom they were chilly, very inconsistent.

delicious meal at Taj Mahal

Adom, Jerusalem
Located just around the corner from our hotel, this basement restaurant was very charming. Our waitress, Gil, was full of knowledge about the food and we really enjoyed the rustic style of the dishes both visually and taste-wise. This place was very busy with waitstaff flying around the room, so even though we had to wait a bit for more bread, etc, there was always an apology.

risotto @ Adom mussels @ Adom
Eric’s lamb and pea risotto on the left and my mussels with white wine and cream sauce on the right.

mom and I w/ dessert wines
Mom and I enjoying a little dessert wine after dinner

Glen Bar, Jerusalem
We left the ‘rents back at the hotel after dinner on two nights and ventured out to Glen Bar just down the road from the hotel. In addition to a good selection of Belgian beers they also have several Israeli craft beers on tap (i.e. not the typical Gold Star), and the bartender our first night was helpful in describing them. We also appreciated the grunge English music and the signs boasting about 80+ single malt scotches.

draught beers @ Glen Bar

Schwarma stand, Old City, Jerusalem
Our guides directed us to this unassuming place in the Jewish Quarter for a quick sandwich under the shade of some umbrellas. I cannot find the name of it anywhere but it’s on the corner of Misgav Ladach and Tiferet Israel streets near the Western Wall. You can get any type of sandwich and the choice of additions is dizzying. Believe me when I say you only need a little bit of the ‘spicy stuff’!

Fuccacia Bar, Jerusalem
Recommended by our hotel and a short walk away, this lively place was a good option for dinner. The food came out lighting fast, in fact it beat our bottle of wine, and everything was great. My gnocchi was pillow soft and delicious and Eric’s ‘focaccia’ was enormous! Thankfully, it was hollow on the inside and once deflated became a reasonable portion of flatbread with various toppings. The turnover was very quick and a large screen was displaying the Man U vs Man City soccer game, so I think it attracts a lot of ex-pats. It was also the least expensive dinner of the three in Jerusalem.

  Eric with his giant focaccia
entrance to the restaurant and Eric with his enormous dinner

Armenian Tavern, Jerusalem
We stopped in here for lunch on our second day in Jerusalem and at first it looks like you are entering an antique shop as you take the staircase down to the basement. I tried a Palestinian beer, Taybeh, which was a good thirst-quencher. The hummus was very tasty and Eric enjoyed his cucumber salad. My sausage was a little, well, crispy, for my tastes but I think that’s just how they cook everything here, well-done.

sausage @ Armenian Tavern
entrance to the Armenian Tavern and my sausage and onions

The Eucalyptus, Jerusalem
For our last dinner in Jerusalem, we went with a restaurant that served authentic biblical food. With menu items like Jacob and Esau’s red lentil stew and Nahaphoch-Hou (Maglubeh), a casserole dish of chicken, rice and vegetables presented with great flair by the chef himself, it was hard to go wrong here. For a place that’s been featured in the New York Times on multiple occasions, I found the restaurant reasonably priced, stylish and welcoming. Our waitress even brought out a bottle of their homemade Arak for us to try when we passed on dessert… none of us are huge fans of liquorice but could appreciate the strong drink.

alley @ Eucalyptus

chicken and rice dish / my steak and potatoes dish with lots of grilled veggies

Tagged with: beer! | Israel | Israel 2012 | restaurants

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