While street food in Israel isn’t hard to come by, it’s hard to weed out the authentic eats from the tourist traps. Jerusalem’s food scene is one where like its classical musicians, Jewish authenticity takes center stage. Even the hottest spots thrive on Jerusalem’s genuine vibe, as hip night spots lead by chefs bring out the beauty of the market, delighting locals and visitors alike. In all this hustle and bustle, no matter how hip, there’s always a touch of vintage, history and Jerusalem-chic. From traditional sabich and falafel to new school pita pocket fillings like fried red mullet and "chraime" (a spicy North African fish dish), Jerusalem restaurants are serving up the goods. Join Keren Brown in her foodie adventures as she explores the Holy City to hone down on Jerusalem’s most authentic spots from little nooks serving piping-hot bourekas to cozy no-frills restaurants serving homemade dumplings.
The top Jerusalem restaurants serving authentic food
You know that feeling when you just want something home-cooked after a day of walking around? Stop into Manou Ba Shouk to taste comforting kosher Lebanese food in a lively setting. The dishes range from shakshuka with merguez sausage in the mornings to their version of “kubba,”stuffed bulgur croquettes filled with meat in the afternoons. Try creamy hummus, crispy-fried falafel, stuffed cigars, roasted eggplant and so much more. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available.
One of the hottest spots in town, owner Dini Kasorla’s pita joint has become a hub for hip people seeking a good vibe and a hearty meal. It’s simple, from the meatiest, to the most vegetable-overflowing pita you can find. Everything that works well in a pita is here. Local seasonal ingredients take center stage alongside nostalgic dishes and new ones, all in a fluffy pita pocket. You’ll find “chraime” (a spicy North African fish), fried red mullet, plump vegetables and endless fillings. The vibe is pumping and overflowing with a young, happening crowd. Don’t miss the iconic 3-step fries that locals are drooling over.
This 60-year-old eatery, owned by Pini – passed down from his late father Musa, who started it all—has mastered phyllo bourekas. Enjoy the incredible flakiness and crunchiness of this doughy pastry as each bite melts in your mouth. A must-have choice is the version that includes salty cheese, a hardboiled egg and Pini’s homemade tahini alongside oversized pickles.
This restaurant in the alleys of Machane Yehuda Market rose to fame because of its shamborek, a fluffy Kurdish-Syrian pastry with hearty fillings: Syrian kebab, chicken satay, tongue or a vegetable-stuffed vegan version. This is not the only thing that makes this spot so busy; everything is cooked in-house, including the roasted meat soup, brisket, shakshuka and more. The clay oven known as the tabun seals the deal, making everything that comes out of it excellent.
Start with the acharuli, a huge boat-shaped pastry filled with a runny egg and soft cheese. Use your fork to spread the egg and get a really colorful bite of everything melting together. Come in and patiently watch as they make the pastries right in front of you and pop them into the tabun (clay oven), first toasting them with the cheese and then adding the egg to finish. Also on the menu is the megruli pastry, a pizza-like pastry where layers of cheese come together in harmonious unison on this soft and decadent dough.
Some may associate smoothies and health drinks as a hip and trendy fad, but Uzi-Eli a.k.a. the Etrog Man, has been making fresh juices with the vitamin-packed Etrog, a local citrus fruit, for many years. Uncover the power of this potent little fruit in any of the fresh drinks, or try out "khat" (also known as gat), a herbal stimulant known for the little high you get when you eat it. It’s usually chewed, but here, it’s made into wonderful drinks like the Etro Gat, a real burst of energy for your day. Also on the menu is a passion fruit and organic smoothie, or alternatively, try any of the healing Etrog creams and cosmetics to take home.
This protein-packed treat can be found all over—but wouldn’t you like to find an amazing one that is kosher too? Ben Sira is the place! An excellent kosher restaurant with a young, lively vibe to match. This tiny spot serves up hummus with all the trimmings: juicy pickles, fluffy pita alongside their decadent falafel. You’ll also find soups, omelettes, shakshuka - all foods that will make you feel like you are dining in an authentic Israeli home.