For me when travelling, food is a big part of the experience. I love trying local dishes, and I personally think its such an important thing to do when you are travelling. Before my trip to Israel I did some research on the dishes that I would typically find, at first glance it was lots of street food that depicted the true Israeli food experience. Falafel, hummus with pitta being amongst those dishes. Strangely I didn’t try this once! I was amazed and how diverse the food was when I arrived. Yes lots of traditional dishes, but traditional dishes from all around the world, as Israel really is a melting pot of many different cultures and influences.
Ale Gefen (Haifa)
Homely decor, with lots of wooden planks, mismatched tiles, and wrought iron and wood chandeliers, filled the dining room ceiling. It felt warm and inviting in this restaurant, which had excellent service, and was reasonably priced too.
I’d never tasted Arabic food before this trip. The chef Omar, who is an Arab-Israeli, had prepared some vegetarian dishes especially for me to try, and they were amazing.
I am more than a little crazy for beetroot, and this goats cheese and beetroot salad was incredible! Omar’s signature style is for the food to have Arabic and middle eastern roots, but with beautiful flourishes and presentation that really make these dishes stand out!
The desserts looked too good to eat, but we did manage to finish them, purely for research purposes you understand. *lies* This was a compote of figs in syrup with delicate vanilla seed meringue as the lid. So moreish!
Dewan Al Saraya : Nazareth
The whole restaurant is filled with interesting things to look at, musical instruments, tools, paintings and antiques he has collected for what is a living museum.
Now he does serve lots of dishes, but he is most famously known for one, Katayef. We watched as he made perfectly sized pancakes in his doorway, before we were beaconed in, to watch him stuff each of them with two different fillings.
There are two different types of Katayef, one is stuffed with different nuts and cinnamon, and the other with unsalted goat cheese. He then shallow frys them, and whilst still hot, adds his home made sweet syrup, qateer.
They were perfection! Crispy and sweet on the outside and soft and flavourful inside.
Noga Knaffe : Jaffa, Tel-Aviv
Set in a up and coming, and very arty area of Jaffa, Noga Knaffe, is off the beaten track a little. With an open kitchen, so you can see all of the action, the dishes you eat will be like nothing you have ever tasted before…no, really!
Knaffe is a dish with very fine pastry hairs, and Levantine cheese, soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup. The traditionally Arabic dish is only served as a dessert dish, and is a speciality of countries such as Israel, Syria and Northern Egypt.
So he decided to look at develop different variations of Knaffe, including vegan cheese, and making it into a savoury main dish too. Oh my, it is so delicious, incredible! Shakshuka is such a rich and flavourful middle eastern dish, and combining it with Knaffe, produces a wining combination.
Danny, also serves a more traditional sweet version, a few of them actually, but even these have been developed by his winning hands. He has added lemons and limes to one of these, and they were perfect to be enjoyed with a cup of cardamom infused Arabic coffee.
Top Food Tips :
- I also recommend trying a sandwich called Sabich, a fresh pita stuffed with hard boiled egg & fried eggplant.
- Visit a Shuck, which has not only the raw ingredients but many things to try within the markets.
- Blue Sky resturant By Meir Adoni, has amazing views and food. Great for vegetarian and Kosher.
- We were lucky enough to eat in the home of an amazing Israeli family for a shabbat dinner, if you can do the same I would highly recommend it.
- Machane Yehuda Market has an open air restaurant, where you can eat amongst the local. Try the hummus, best one I tried in Isreal on my trip.