Food by location
The Old City
The Old City in Jerusalem is a fascinating place that is significant to the world’s major religions. Whether you visit the Old City on a tour, or explore the cobblestone streets on your own, you’ll probably need to stop to eat at some point. Here are some of the different food options when you’re in the Old City:
- Quick bites: There are plenty of food carts and small stores selling breads, snacks, to-go sandwiches and other standard Jerusalem foods. Falafel and shawarma are easy to find, as are carts selling beigeleh (a big circle of bread with sesame seeds).
- Cafes & bakeries: There are also many great options for coffee or for baked goods like pastries. Some cafe options include the Quarter Cafe and Holy Cafe. Don’t forget, in Israel, “iced cafe” is not what you might expect an “iced coffee” to be, and instead, it’s more similar to a slushie drink. If you want a cold coffee with ice, order a “cafe kar.”
- Restaurants: There are several options for eating at a sit-down restaurant while you’re in the Old City. You can easily find hummus, along with other traditional Israeli and Middle Eastern food (such as shakshuka). Options for restaurants include Al-Sultan Restaurant, Versavee, Amigo Emil Restaurant, Lina, and Nafoura Restaurant.
Mea Shearim is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods that you’ll find outside of the Old City, and it’s home to those who are Ultra Orthodox. While visiting Mea Shearim is certainly an interesting cultural experience (and one you should definitely add to your list of things to do in Jerusalem), it’s also a delicious culinary experience. The food you’ll find in Mea Shearim is traditional Jewish food, and it’s very unique to this community. This food includes freshly baked challah bread, sweet or savory kugel, and flakey borekas. And when you’re in the mood for desert, be sure to try some chocolate rugelach.
Machane Yehuda Market
The Machane Yehuda Market (or shuk) is the thriving open-air market of Jerusalem, and it’s famed for its Jerusalem food options. You’ll find shops with spices piled high, barrels of pickles and olives, fresh fruits and vegetables, and shops selling sweets. You’ll also likely hear merchants yelling out the prices for their wares. As far as food goes, there are plenty of options (almost too many to keep track of). There are cafes, restaurants, and pubs, and they sell food throughout the day and night. On Saturday evening, the market is closed (for the Jewish shabbat), but many of the restaurants and cafes are open.
- Street food: One of the best parts of Machane Yehuda is simply trying the street food. You can find plenty of pita-based sandwiches (like falafel), hummus, kebabs, malawach, jachnun, and sabich. These are available from stands and small shops, and you can usually either sit down, or take them to-go.
- Restaurants: There are several sit-down restaurants in the Machane Yehuda Market. Some of the popular options in the shuk include Hachapuria (which serves up Georgian pastries), Pasta Basta (where some of the ingredients are imported from Italy), Fishenchips (where the owners get the fish from their dad’s stand), and HaAgas 1 (a vegetarian restaurant).
- Bars: When the sun goes down and the shops close up, bars still stay open in the market, and many of them serve food along with their drinks. Options include Hatipa, Beer Bazaar, and Yudale Bar.
Food by Specialty
Food in Jerusalem isn’t limited to Middle Eastern, Israeli, and Jewish food. You might be surprised by just how much diversity there is in the cuisine in Jerusalem. With that in mind, here’s some specialty food to add to your list for when you’re in Jerusalem next:
Israel is home to a growing Ethiopian community, and you’ll find many Ethiopian restaurants in Jerusalem. Be sure to try injera, a spongy fermented flatbread that’s served with different stews that can be made with legumes, vegetables, and meats. Shiro Wat is another traditional Ethiopian dish made from chickpeas, while Kik Alicha is a split pea stew. Some popular Ethiopian restaurants in Jerusalem include Habash, El Shadday, Shager, and Lucy’s.
While the Indian food scene is still growing in Jerusalem, there are a few notable options for Indian food in the Holy City. Jeera is an authentic Indian vegetarian restaurant in the City Center. Here you can find a tasty thali, or a big round dish served with bread, and different curries, lentil dishes, stews, and vegetables. There are also fragrant rice dishes, dosas, and kheer, a milk-based rice pudding that is served for dessert. In addition, we invite you to check out our Indian Night at the Abraham Hostel Jerusalem!
If you’re looking for some finer fare, you’re in for a treat: there are plenty of upscale options when it comes to food in Jerusalem.
- Notre Dame: This upscale guest house doesn’t only have 142 rooms: it also has a Rooftop Cheese & Wine Restaurant, with wonderful views overlooking the city. They claim to have one of the best selections of imported cheese and wine in the entire country, serving up over 40 different imported gourmet cheeses and an extensive wine list.
- Machneyuda: This restaurant is often called one of the best in the city for its elegant twist on Middle Eastern cuisine. The menu changes twice a day, the food is often made with fresh ingredients from the Machane Yehuda market, and you’ll watch your dishes being artfully prepared in the open kitchen.
- Chakra: At Chakra, you’ll enjoy the rotating Mediterranean menu & Israeli wines while dining on the balmy terrace. This restaurant is known for being incredibly delicious, and it serves up elegant fish, meats, and cocktails.
Vegan & Vegetarian Experiences
While you might think that food in Jerusalem is meat centric, never fear: vegans and vegetarians have tons of options in Jerusalem. Pergamont serves up vegan and vegetarian classics alongside unique plates and craft cocktails. You’ll find vegan staples like tempeh on the menu, as well as dishes with polenta, potato, eggplant and wild cabbage. For breakfast or a light lunch, Cafe Bastet is a vegetarian cafe in the City Center. Vegan Shawarma and Mimoni’s both specialize in vegan takes on Middle Eastern street food (like shawarma and pita sandwiches). Also, be sure to try Sabich, a vegetarian Middle Eastern food where eggplant is the star ingredient (Aricha Sabich is a great option). And remember, the Ethiopian and Indian options listed above are also great for vegans and vegetarians.
Experiencing Jerusalem with Abraham
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to Jerusalem food, we don’t blame you. There really are tons of options, and Jerusalem is a culinary lover’s delight. If you’re staying at our Abraham Hostel Jerusalem, be sure to ask reception for their favorite restaurant recommendations. And if you’re looking to experience the bars and nightlife of Jerusalem, be sure to check out our Jerusalem Pub Crawl (we also have a Tel Aviv Pub Crawl). And if you plan to visit our Fauzi Azar in Nazareth, we offer a Nazareth tasting tour.