In Israel, we sample the flavors and spices of North Africa on a daily basis without even realizing. Did you know that Shakshuka (a spicy tomato-based egg dish and common Israeli breakfast staple) actually originated in Tunisia? While many a “Middle Eastern” menu utilize key ingredients of the North African region, like couscous, and even traditional dishes like chraime and Matbucha, finding purely Egyptian, Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian restaurants requires a little more digging. That’s why we’ve done the legwork – scavenging the winding stone-paved roads of Neve Tzedek, the back lanes of the Kerem, and the labyrinth that is Machne Yehuda – to find the most authentic North African restaurants in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and beyond.
Traditional North African restaurants in Israel
The concept behind this North African treasure was to bring together two worlds—connecting the east with the west, music with food, and luxury with hominess. The menu is built on traditional flavors from the boys’ upbringing, “just like Mom used to make.” An aromatic combination of spicy and sweet comes to life in dishes that utilize regional ingredients like cumin and carrots, sweet beets and fresh herbs and roasted hot peppers. Not only is the establishment a Moroccan Mecca of home-style food, the dining room is accompanied by electronic music. Pamper yourself like Moroccan royalty while exposing your senses to a sensory overload.
A step into this historic 2000-year-old red-hued building with stained glass windows, colorful tiles and archaic arches sweeps you away to the warmth of Morocco. Expect traditional kosher Moroccan cuisine with a plentitude of cooked salads sprawled across the table. Go for warming, cinnamon-spiced tagines, bright and fluffy couscous served with slow-cooked lamb and prunes and hand-crafted Moroccan pastries. Savor the food with one of over 5,000 bottles of the finest wines or experience the wine-tasting room, where you will uncover Israel’s finest kosher wines.
Masterchef winner Avi Levy’s new kosher restaurant feels like an open invitation into his home. Chiripom (which means “happy food” according to Levy) offers delicious North African cuisine with an Israeli twist. Everything about this homey spot is colorful, from the aromatic flavors and spices to the eclectic menu of Moroccan and Algerian-influenced dishes.
Julie’s Egyptian Food is located just a few blocks from the center of Tel Aviv's famous Carmel Market, just above the Yemenite Quarter. Julie’s is only open for lunch until she runs out of food. Every morning, she searches the shuk for fresh, high quality vegetables to craft the day’s menu. Using ancient Egyptian recipes and spices, Julie’s is known for being the most authentic Egyptian restaurant in Tel Aviv. With typical Jewish grandmother spunk, she often tells diners what they want to eat instead of asking, but she’s always right.
Ask the locals and they’ll tell you all about this kosher gem, serving up Moroccan home-cooked food in all its glory. This down-to-earth and reasonably priced restaurant cooks the city’s most-talked about couscous, a bowl of hand-rolled semolina topped with piping soup and vegetables. Dine on meatballs, a plethora of cooked salads and authentic Moroccan dishes. Come early as lunch here is exceptionally busy - locals love to get their home-cooked fix. Simplicity never goes out of style at this homey spot.
Offset in a little nook just off the main drag of Jerusalem’s famous Machne Yehuda market, Hamotzi is the kind of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot that every traveler hopes to find for its sheer authenticity. Quaint in its intimacy, the actual restaurant is quite small, which only adds to its charm. The open kitchen constantly pumps aromatic flavors and smells into the homey atmosphere, somehow making the whole place feel like a warm, family dinner. The menu stems straight from the kitchen of Chef Avi Levy’s family’s deep roots: North African delights are his staples, and Levy’s talents of melding spices are supreme. The 2012 winner of Israel’s MasterChef is all smiles and personable charm, bidding patrons into his kitchen to see where all the magic happens.
Mamot is a modern Moroccan-Israeli restaurant that fuses together traditional recipes with an updated twist. Here you will find Moroccan and Israeli cuisine classics such as couscous, Moroccan fish, kube, and meatballs in tomato sauce. The restaurant’s food is cooked up in giant pots and pans that will make you feel like you’re back at your grandmother’s home. If you’re looking for an authentic Moroccan food experience, look no farther than Mamot, located right by Shuk Hacarmel. Mamot also offers a delivery service, in cause you’re in a pinch for Shabbat dinner and you’re looking to have some of your Moroccan grandmother’s homestyle cooking.