Maybe I don’t get out enough, but a TV in the bathroom? Now that’s something new.
I was having a bite with friends at Faza, on the corner of Rehov Palmach in Jerusalem, which is down the street from the Islamic Museum (in one of those ironic juxtapositions so common in Jerusalem – the Palmach was the strike force of the Jewish militia during the British Mandate). Freshening up in the bathroom (clean, by the way) I noticed a screen above the toilet. It seemed a bit strange. I mean why would the TV be located behind my head? Later it dawned on me: I had gone into the men’s WC. A peek into the ladies room showed a TV on the opposite wall. What the point is, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a way to liven up the dinner conversation (or provide an escape when it gets too boring).
Faza (Hebrew slang for “style,” according to the young person I asked) has undergone several metamorphoses. I remember it as a bicycle store and a beauty salon. Now it is a dairy restaurant and Internet café. Of course, the décor has changed. Now there are black square tables and cream-colored walls with a few red squiggles for accent. The lighting over the bar is interesting (see photo). Bring your laptop along – the place has WiFi access – or use one of the computers in the corner. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can sit there and surf to your heart’s content.
So what about the food? The quiches (sweet potato and broccoli) were okay, although I wouldn’t have been able to identify the ingredients in a blind tasting. The pasta with mushrooms and cream was kind of ordinary. My friend ordered a green salad with cubes of fried haloumi (a kind of salty cheese), which she enjoyed. The bill for 4, which included a pitcher of lemonade, was quite reasonable. We paid NIS 148, which came out to about $33.
So don’t make a special trip, but if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s not a bad place for a snack (and a pit stop…).
Update - July 2008: Faza is now a sushi bar. I don't know if they redid the bathrooms...
2011 Update: The restaurant is closed. It seems to be under renovation.
The view from Te'enim (which means "figs"), a little vegetarian restaurant at the Zionist Confederation House, will leave your mouth hanging open (which is probably not a bad thing in a restaurant). It is situated in a charming old stone building on Emile Botta Street, tucked away in the gardens behind the King David Hotel.
Three floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the Old City walls and Dormition Abbey. The best tables in the house are nestled in the arches of these windows. Reserve ahead - there are only three. We didn't, but the view was still stunning from where we sat. The ancient walls, lit up with a golden light, were silhouetted against the dark night sky with a silvery full moon hovering above as if it were glued on.
There was a nice of array of salads and vegetarian dishes, and a few tempting fruit-topped cakes on the counter, but we ordered only soup, which came with sliced whole-wheat bread, butter and a pile of toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling. My husband had Japanese miso soup with cubes of tofu and seaweed. It was OK, but not as filling as he had hoped. I was the lucky one. I ordered the soup of the day - a wonderful thick broth with chunks of root vegetables, chickpeas and coriander, perfectly seasoned.
The waiter was an interesting character - a tall, blonde, dimpled fellow with a big knitted turquoise kippa (skullcap) on his head, a bright orange T-shirt, and tzizit (ritual fringes) dangling from underneath. He brought a pitcher of cold water with aromatic sprigs of fresh nana (mint) and a few slices of lemon to the table, and my husband topped off his meal with a large glass of fresh carrot juice (not my cup of tea!).
Tucked away on a side street called Rehov Hama’alot, just off King George St. in downtown Jerusalem, is Agas ve’Tapuah (Pear & Apple), a little Italian dairy restaurant. We had a bite to eat there after checking out a new exhibit at the Jerusalem Artists’ House – a beautiful old stone building just up the block where local artists show their work in solo and group exhibits that change every month.
It’s not a big place – just a few wooden tables inside, and a few on the sidewalk, under an awning. It’s not super fancy either – no tablecloths or elegant dishware, although there was a cute pair of salt & pepper shakers on each table in the shape of an apple and a pear. But there were several other diners and everyone seemed happy, all of them downing enormous plates of food (giant salads, pasta and other Italian-looking concoctions).
We only had soup. We tried the minestrone and the onion soup with wine and grated cheese, both good. This came with a basket of toasted country-style bread and two little dishes containing very good spreads, one from dried tomatoes and the other, a pesto-flavored butter.
The portions in our case were not very large, which left me with room for dessert. My husband had cafe au lait and I ordered panna cotta, mainly in the interests of science (I’ve never had it before). I was a little surprised when it arrived: a tiny mound of white custard, just a few spoonfuls really, sitting at the very edge of an otherwise empty large-size dinner plate, crisscrossed with maple and chocolate syrup to make a fancy pattern. Taste-wise, it was okay, maybe a bit on the sweet side. I think I could have done without the dribbles of syrup…
Gaza may not the safest place these days, but Gaza Road in Jerusalem ? pronounced ?Azza,? is gradually becoming the height of chic. This street used to be the place where the silver-haired matrons of Rehavia bought their fruits and vegetables (at the shop of the legendary Yom-Tov, who only sells the finest and the best, with prices to match) and the distinguished gents had their hair cut.
There were two barbershops, one on either side of the street. One was light, with plate glass windows, catering to the younger set, and the other was old and dark, permeated by the smell of the pomade used by the ancient barber to slick back his jet-black hair. He loved to boast about his prestigious clientele, which included prime ministers and eminent professors (all academe once lived in Rehavia, and the Prime Minister?s Residence is just down the street). My children, who went there occasionally for haircuts, said he used to duck behind a curtain and have a few mouthfuls of yogurt between snips.
Nowadays, Gaza Road has become a trendy place. Many of the old shops have closed down and reopened as cafes. At night, the street is a popular hangout for young people. On the corner of Gaza and Metudella Street an old kiosk, now enclosed in glass and topped with an umbrella-like roof, has become Caf? Zigmond (as in Sigmund Freud, whose face adorns the menus). Specialties of the house are Moroccan couscous, soups and crepes.
Seated on high stools at the counter (there are also 2 tiny tables), we - that is, my famished teenaged daughter - ordered a chocolate crepe (NIS 15) and a fresh fruit shake (NIS 15). The crepe was a bit too sweet for my taste, but my daughter loved it. The shake, containing apples, strawberries, kiwis and milk, was excellent.
Up until a few years ago, there were no New York-style bagels in Jerusalem. Bagels and lox, so often associated in people’s minds with Jews, were not nowhere to be found in the Holy Land. Bagels in Israel – or baiglach, to use the Yiddish plural - were not chewy, doughy things, but pretzels.
In the olden days, there was something that looked like a bagel, a kind of hard bread ring sprinkled with coarse salt. You can still buy these at kiosks on the street: They sit on the counter, piled up on a kind of wooden spool. Texture and taste-wise, though, these are not what I think of when I hear the word “bagel" - and the hole is much bigger.
Now you can get real bagels all over town. Maybe they’re not exactly like the ones in New York, but they come pretty close. I think the ones at Holy Bagel are a little spongier. Israelis certainly don’t eat them at the same rate as Americans (visiting my New York family, I’ve noticed they practically live on them). But if you want a break from felafel, some hot fresh bagels from the Holy Bagel Factory (I think the name is a riot) can be a nice cheap belly-filler.
There are plain bagels but they also come in different flavors: onion, sesame, poppy seed, cinnamon and raisin, whole wheat, za’atar (a greenish Middle Eastern spice), and more. A bagel costs 3 shekels (about 65 cents). For a few more shekels, you can make a meal out of them: Have them sliced and spread with a variety of fillings – different types of cream cheese, tuna, egg salad, etc.
Holy Bagels is located at 34 Jaffa Road, across from Zion Square. There is another branch, also on Jaffa Road, just past the entrance to the Central Bus Station.
For a lovely relaxed meal on the edge of a lake, watching the swans go by, try the “Seven Species,” a fish and dairy restaurant in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. The menu, which changes with the seasons, tries to incorporate the seven species mentioned in the Bible – wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey.
When you get to the Botanical Gardens, tell the guard at the booth in the parking lot that you are going to the restaurant. That way you get in free, without paying the entrance fee. If you come during the day, don’t forget to stroll around either before or after the meal.
If the season is right (spring, in particular), the flowers will be blooming in a riot of colors and the birds will be chirping. Marked footpaths will take you up and down the hills, past a waterfall, little brooks, wooden pagodas, ancient caves and burial niches and a tropical greenhouse that looks like a temple. The garden is divided into sections, with native flora from different parts of the world.
The food at the restaurant is a mixed bag – some dishes are better than others (which is probably so for any restaurant). Many contain liberal sprinklings of fresh herbs, or at least make that claim on the menu. My husband tried the fish kebab (okay) that came with a garlic dressing and either mashed potatoes or a dish of cooked grains. My daughter had little vegetable patties in a variety of flavors – spinach, sweet potato, etc., again with a garlic dressing (a bit too sharp for my taste), and a rather measly portion of fresh greens on the side. My son lucked out. He got a plate full of delicious ravioli with an assortment of fillings, swimming in a very good cream sauce.
Before the meal, the waitress brought out a wooden tray of rolls, olives and a little saucer of something purplish, which she said was purple onion butter (it tasted more like margarine to me). The rolls were a bit dense and doughy but each one had a little surprise baked inside – a pitted olive, a basil leaf, and so on.
Favorite Dish: Best of all was our shared dessert – a slightly frozen lemon mousse cake (which was supposed to be decorated with mint leaves, but maybe they ran out). It came with a pot of “7 species” tea, an interesting blend of herbs that looked rather like bits of twigs and leaves, but nice.
(If you belong to the Friends of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, the restaurant knocks 10% off your bill).
2009 update: On my last swing around the garden, I saw that the Seven Species has closed down, but a branch of Cafe Caffit has opened there.
Did your mother tell you it wasn’t polite to read at the table? At Tmol Shilshom, a cafe-bookshop in Nahalat Shiva, you can forget about your mom’s idea of proper dining etiquette. Here you can read, write and eat at the table and no one will say a word.
“Tmol Shilshom” (“Only Yesterday”) is the title of an epic novel by S.Y. Agnon, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966. In the book, the protagonist frequents a workers' club which seems to have been the inspiration for this Jerusalem cafe: “The club consisted of two rooms - one for eating and drinking, the other for reading. But no one bothered to read in the reading room or dine in the dining room. One ate and read, the other read and drank. People roamed freely from one room to the other.”
Located in a 130-year old stone building, tucked away in a courtyard at the end of a little alleyway that you might easily overlook, Tmol Shilshom is just the place for those who are sick and tired of gleaming chrome and urban chic. There is not a matched piece of furniture in sight.
At the top of a narrow flight of stairs are two rooms with arched ceilings, old-fashioned chandeliers and old tiled floors. Lining the walls between the tables and chairs – an odd assortment of antiques, some of which have seen better days – are books, old and new, in wooden cabinets or on open shelves built into niches in the wall. The books are for sale, as are the dishes you eat on. The literary theme is carried through in the menus, which look like books (ours was "Treasure Island").
Favorite Dish: One room is a dairy restaurant-cafe. The other is used for lectures, meetings with authors (some of them quite famous) and other cultural events. We were greeted warmly and invited to stay for the poetry-reading scheduled that evening, but we were in a hurry and just had time for a luxurious hot chocolate drink made from real squares of chocolate (15 shekels). The brass glass holders, handcrafted by Eli who has a workshop in the courtyard, were also for sale. We’ll be back.
2009 update: We did go back, and had an interesting variation on a pasta-lentil dish known as kushari. In Egypt this is cheap street food Here it was served very elegantly with a garlicky yoghurt topping and not just dumped in a bowl and smothered in tomato sauce, which seems to be the Egyptian custom.
Hashipudiya is a Middle Eastern, kosher restaurant in downtown West Jerusalem. It's the sort of restaurant where you don't order. You just sit and are served whatever's on the menu for that evening. Huge stone-baked pittas, hot from the oven were thrown down on the table and dish after dish of hummous and every type of salad and dips. These were absolutely delicious and could have constituted a meal in themselves but after about 30 minutes long skewers of sizzling roast chicken made their appearance. These were followed by lamb patties, small potato chips and a few platters of another chicken dish. All the food was cooked right next to us and served immediately and for freshness and tastiness was simply outstanding. Afterwards we had fragrant mint tea and droolingly-good little filo pastry parcels.
All this along with soft drinks and water, came to EURO 18 per person. An absolute bargain and a dining experience that I relished every minute of .
Favorite Dish: The chicken on skewers was tender and tasty and the portions served were unbelievably generous.
Well, somebody?s Ima cooked the food here. Too bad it wasn?t mine. Not that my mother wasn?t a good cook, but her cuisine was nothing like this.
?Ima? is Hebrew for mother, and the chef is clearly a Kurdish Iraqi mom.
If you want large portions of good, authentic Kurdish Iraqi food, you won?t be disappointed here. Ima is located at the bottom of Agrippas Street, down the road from Mahane Yehuda market and right across from Sacher Park, in an old stone house that is not particularly attractive on the outside, even for lovers of old stone houses like me. The giant ?Ima? sign out front doesn?t help much.
The inside is nicer, with arched doorways and windows and thick stone walls. An antique chandelier hangs from the ceiling as you walk in, and various niches in the wall hold vases of flowers. There are several rooms to choose from. When we visited, on a hot summer?s day, the restaurant was packed and the air-conditioning left something to be desired. But we said authentic, right?
Naturally, we ordered kubbeh, which is a kind of meat-filled dumpling that is a specialty of the Kurdish kitchen. There are several kinds, cooked in soup or fried. We ordered kubbeh hamusta (NIS 26), which comes in a lemony broth with various greens, and kubbeh matfune (NIS 26), in a tomato-based broth. Both were delicious.
We also had majdera (NIS 17), a tasty (and healthy) combo of rice and lentils. Other members of the party ordered chicken breast (NIS 45) and grilled chunks of chicken, known as ?pargiyot? (NIS 49), each of which came with two side dishes. Together with a plate of hummus, a plate of spicy matbukha salad made of red peppers and tomatoes, a finely chopped vegetable salad, a serving of pickles and olives, and a basket of pita (which had seen better days), the bill for 4 came to NIS 195. I would say that is quite reasonable for the amount of food we got. We were too full for dessert.
In Jerusalem there's really only one thing to eat when you're on the go and that's shwarma or falafael. Okay you can get burgers or other snacks but this is what you will find in 95% of the street stalls selling food. The reason ? Because it's delicious and traditional and Jerusalem does it really well. On Friday lunchtime we got a chance to try this local delicacy on Ben Yehuda Street, where some of the best falafael and shwarma in the city are served. We ate at Moshiko's which if popularity is anything to go by, should be getting 5-star ratings from customers. You go inside to where they roast the meat then bring your food back outside and eat on the tables on the street. A great way to observe life in downtown Jerusalem.
Favorite Dish: I had the shwarma here which consists of a large pitta choc full of thin slices of roast meat, chips and whatever salad you choose. The texture was a little strange at first, all the food tossed in together like that, but after a few mouthfuls, quite tasty.It's also the most economical and filling food you can buy on a budget.
I met with VT UnaS for brunch at one of her favorite spots, Cafe Rimon. She likes this place because of the relaxing atmosphere (read: you can sit and have your coffee or pastry for hours without being rushed out to give the table to another patron) and because the food is good.
We sat on the outdoor tables and enjoyed watching those coming from Ben Yehuda street and Zion Square, while I had a pair of cheese blintzes. A blintz could be defined as a pancake (sweet) filled with some soft, sweet cheese. My pastry came with a small bowl of fruit, whipped cream and syrup. This pastry cost me 45 NIS (plus tip, price of May 2010).
The German Colony is one of those old Jerusalem neighborhoods with a special character and architecture. Emek Refa'im Street is always teeming with life (in the more sedate, Jerusalem sense of the word) in the evenings.
Caffit is well known to the Yerushalmim (=people of Jerusalem), a nice place to have a meal right on Emek Refa'im, indoors or outside in the garden. The menu is vegetarian, so when you order a "mozarella hamburger" don't expext a cheeseburger but rather a cheesy, meatless "burger".
If you enjoy "people watching" you will see the Yerushalmim all around you and notice how different they are from the Tel-Avivians!
Favorite Dish: The well known dish of Caffit is the yam (sweet potato) salad. The portions are generous and tasty.
The Artists' House is located just off King George St., one of the central streets of Jerusalem. This house was the first site of the pioneering Bezalel art school, at the turn of the 20th century.
Mona Restaurant and pub makes the best use of the cultural, artistic but informal atmosphere of this building.
The menu contains meat, fish and vegetarian dishes and a wide election of drinks.
The food is tasty (although more expensive than average). The service was good and efficirnt when we went there.
It is certainly a very pleasant and tasty place to spend an evening in Jerusalem.
The restaurant is open every day etween 10:00 AM - 02:00 AM.
Nice to get out of the city for a bit and just lovely to sit in the forest! So take the kids for an al fresco treat in the forest at this restaurant overlooking the breath-taking Judean Hills.
Only 15 minutes from Jerusalem, Tavlin offers dairy and fish dishes made with local ingredients.
If you love the food and want to recreate it at home, you can get all of the herbs and spices at the farm on site, as well as homemade cheeses, olives and jams.
They also have take-away if you want to picnic in the forest.
Suitable for handicapped people, WiFi on site, non-smoking.
There is also a bar and a coffee shop on the same site.
The URL below is in Hebrew only.
Favorite Dish: Excellent salads.
Vegetarian meals available.
Their eggplant salad is luscious!
Open 7 days a week from 0900 - 2400
This is an argentinian restaurant in the city centre. We could go without reservation but bvery early(7pm) so, if you have the chance to rserve a table, that would be a good idea.
Asado was very good and so the other grill meat we got.
Favorite Dish: Asado was good but it's even better and more convenient if you order the grill mix for two(there is some asado, entrecote and more).
The Yarden red wine they suggest is really good.