The most important thing we found when honeymooning in Israel was always have a back-up plan! Whether we were caught out by religious holidays or tired of walking in the desert heat, we always set about finding somewhere to eat and drink. You can find our ultimate guide to eating in Israel here, and our ultimate guide to drinking in Israel here, but if you’re after fast answers this is the place to find them: where to eat and drink in Israel, the shortlist!
Where to Eat and Drink in Israel Shortlist: Food
Falafel without Gluten
Finding a traditional falafel that wouldn’t poison me with gluten was high-priority when we arrived in Israel. Luckily, we hit paydirt on our first sojourn! This little hole in the wall can be found behind Shuk Ha’Carmel, near the HaKovishim Garden. The falafel was cooked fresh before our very eyes, incredibly moist and tasty, and very affordable! You can eat it straight from the bag, as we did, or have it served in delicious pita bread with salads.
Port Said bar and restaurant on Allenby Street offers the best in Israeli tapas – or, as they would call it, “small food next to the alcohol”. We sampled baked potatoes, chicken livers cooked in butter with tahini, and sweet potato with crème fraîche. It was all absolutely delicious, and the best way to start a night out in Tel Aviv. Mid-range prices.
Taqueria (Mexican Food)
You’ll be spoiled for choice in Tel Aviv if you’re into Mexican food. It sounds random, we know, but there are Mexican restaurants on every corner. We ate our fill at Taqueria (on Levontin St) on our last night – a burrito plate, and quesadillas, and nachos to share. Absolutely delicious! I challenge you to find Mexican food this good anywhere else in the Middle East.
Shawarma in Jerusalem
We were so turned-around in Jerusalem – thrown off kilter by the unexpected Shavuot holiday and closure of the city – that we foolishly neglected to write down the name of the hole-in-the-wall that served us the best shawarma we’ve ever eaten! Looking back at the map now, we can be pretty sure it was somewhere along Yafo St (turning right out of the Jerusalem Bus Station). The shawarma plates we ordered could melt in your mouth, the sides were fresh and cool, and we washed it down with a delicious grapefruit juice. The meal came to about $30AUD equivalent all up, which is on the expensive side for convenience food, but we enjoyed it so much we would have happily paid double.
Picnicking in Old Jaffa (with sustenance from Shuk Ha’Carmel)
It’s hardly fancy, but if you don’t take the opportunity to buy fresh food from the shuk and eat it picnic-style somewhere gorgeous, you’re missing out! We purchased an assortment of cold cuts, cheeses, olives, hummus, and grapes from Shuk Ha’Carmel, and walked down the coastline to Old Jaffa. We ate our Israeli fare sitting in a shady spot on the grass, overlooking the water, and it was amazing. Price-wise, I hope you’re better at bargaining than we were, because we paid far more than we should have – we tried to reassure ourselves with the firm belief that it was worth it! (Sample as many cheeses as you can, even the cream cheeses – they are AMAZING!)
Our Ultimate Guide to Eating in Israel starts here, so be sure to check it out. Alternatively, Lonely Planet has long been the traveller’s Bible, and they have some awesome recommendations of their own – you can purchase the complete guide, or even just the relevant chapters, here!
Where to Eat and Drink in Israel Shortlist: Drink
Big Ben Pub (Tiberias/Sea of Galilee)
Don’t ask me how we ended up in an Irish pub in Tiberias. We were there to see the sights of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on water! And yet, we were hungry and thirsty, and found ourselves lured in to Big Ben by the gloriously crotchety manager and the chance to sit outside in the sunshine, just up from the water. The place is marketed as an Irish bar, but still sells traditional Middle Eastern fare. It holds a special place in our hearts as the first time we tried Tubi. The manager recommended it to us and, boy! Did it almost blow our socks off!
Mozner (on Ahad Ha’Am St, just off Rothschild) came to us highly recommended, via the bartender at our hotel. Indeed, we walked in and we felt right at home. The staff were hilariously indifferent (drinking beer and smoking joints behind the bar), the locals were drunk and friendly (just how we liked them), and the DJ played Elvis and the Beach Boys long into the night. We had a cracker of a time – indeed, it’s lucky we didn’t discover this place any earlier in the trip, or we may have ended up there every night.
Ah, Port Said – on Har Sinai St (just off Allenby St)! You get a double-mention in this list. We adored you, not only for your delicious pre-drink snacks (see above), but also for your delicious cocktails! (Special mention: the Almond Arak is a unique experience!) We were lucky to get a seat in the outdoor area, as the sun was setting, and popularity is a testament to Port Said’s quality! A must-do for every visitor to Tel Aviv.
Little Prince Bookstore/Bar/Cafe
Turning left off Allenby St onto King George St, within just a couple of blocks you’ll stumble upon our own personal holy land. The Little Prince has wall-to-wall reasonably-priced second-hand books, as well as a fully-stocked cafe and bar. Amazing! We stuck to beer and vodka while we were there, but noted that they were very generous on the pour. Plus, we picked up the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde in English for 50NIS (about $20AUD) – a bargain at twice the price! We would happily move into the Little Prince if they’d let us. Bookworms rejoice!
Are you a millennial traveller? Cafe Berlin is Tel Aviv’s answer to Bangkok’s “Cheap Charlies”. We literally found it by googling “cheap drinks in Tel Aviv”. They have a truly astonishing cocktail hour – the entire menu is 2-for-1 from midday to 10:30PM. And believe you me, we took full advantage. The place was crowded the entire time we were there, so you know it must be good. Traditional Israeli customer service is delivered in spades, but they are honest to a fault (we asked to pay the bill, and they reminded us that we had two free “chasers”, aka shots, yet to come – they wouldn’t let us pay until we’d downed them). If you’re in Israel on a budget, Cafe Berlin is where you want to be.