Eat Pray Love (Israel edition)

Step out of your comfort zone and embark on a journey of self-discovery through food, prayer, & romance in the Holy Land
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Elizabeth Gilbert traveled the globe to eat in Italy, pray in India, and love in Bali, but in the heart of the Middle East you can do all of those things in a country that is notoriously the size of New Jersey. On the streets and beaches, in alleyways and historic buildings, and cities across the country, Israelis and tourists alike are eating, praying, and loving – sometimes all at once. Sure, we can’t all row into the sunset with Javier Bardem, but these tasty bites, holy sites, and romantic nights will have you feeling (almost) as balanced and transformed as Julia Roberts in no time.

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Mona
© Barak Prisman
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Mona

icon-location-pin Nachlat Shiva

A vibrant restaurant with a creative and surprising menu. Situated in the old stone Artists’ House, Mona is further enlivened by its select menu where unusual, flavorful combinations always sing and are never heavy-handed. Expect to try the best seasonal and raw ingredients with menu items like fresh pastas made by hand, light and refreshing sashimi and out-of-the-box desserts.  

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Kitchen Market
© Anatoly Michaello
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Kitchen Market

icon-location-pin Tel Aviv Port

Located in the Tel Aviv Port’s indoor market, this market-to-table restaurant serves up seasonal dishes bursting with creativity. At Kitchen market, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the sea while indulging in some of the best contemporary Israeli food in the city. Handcrafted by artisanal chef Yossi Shitrit, the gourmet cuisine is harmonious, while each dish surprises and soothes at the same time.    

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Anna
© PR
Restaurants, Italian

Anna

icon-location-pin Jerusalem City Center

Located in downtown Jerusalem in the Ticho House, a place to immerse yourself in Jerusalem’s art and literary works, a kosher dairy and fish Italian restaurant called “Anna” immediately became one of the city’s most-beloved spots. Handmade pizzas and pastas, fresh fish and the best seasonal ingredients all come together for a memorable dinner. Anna is more than a restaurant, it is also an organization that helps disadvantaged students gain work experience in the kitchen and helps them get back on track.  

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Chakra
© PR
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Chakra

icon-location-pin Jerusalem City Center

This well-loved restaurant attracts locals in the know. Chakra showcases an Italian-inspired menu with a global influence and an extensive seafood selection. The menu boasts handmade pastas, fresh-baked focaccia, and an extensive wine list.

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Taizu
© PR
Restaurants, Pan-Asian

Taizu

icon-location-pin White City

It’s no surprise that Taizu earned the title of Time Out’s Best Restaurant for 2 years in a row (and other accolades the years before) with their “Asiaterranean” cuisine, an extensive, seafood-heavy menu of small plates, amazing flavor combinations and consistent craftsmanship. Chef Yuval Ben Neriah’s restaurant is one of the best in town, and Pastry Chef Ana Shapiro’s desserts are in a league of their own thanks to a fusion of savory, sweet and unique ingredients like curry, saffron and other surprisingly harmonious spices.

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Machneyuda
© Yahav Yaakov
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Machneyuda

icon-location-pin Machne Yehuda

With three Jerusalem chefs running the show, this rustic haven for foodies offers a changing market-to-table menu with all ingredients sourced from the nearby Machne Yehuda Market. The open kitchen gives you a front seat to the action, and the lively, spirited vibes are like no other. This restaurant was the inspiration for two of the most-talked about restaurants in London, The Palomar and The Barbary. Both are known for bringing this ‘Machneyuda’ genre of energetic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine to the city.

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Ohel Moed
© PR
Attractions

O'hel Mo'ed Synagogue

icon-location-pin White City

Tucked away from Rothschild's hectic boulevard, O'hel Mo'ed has come to be known as the Great Sephardic Synagogue of Tel Aviv. Its facade lives up to its implied 'greatness' with impressive architecture inspired by Art Deco and Bauhaus styles, to keep with the White City theme. Duck inside the spiritual site to truly appreciate its splendor: mystical adornments scaled with the golden ratio and a mesmerizing dome that covers the sanctuary.

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Church of the Holy Sepulcher
© PR
Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

icon-location-pin Jerusalem Old City

Built on the site revered by Christians as the location of Jesus' resurrection, the church has been a location of pilgrimage since the 4th century. Christians of all denominations and people from around the world can be seen visiting its various frankincense laden vestibules and chambers.

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Abuhav Synagogue - Safed
© Shutterstock
Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

Abuhav Synagogue

icon-location-pin Safed

The Abuhav Synagogue houses the oldest Torah scroll in Safed, a scroll associated with many traditions and legends. It is only taken out for readings on Yom Kippur, Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah. The synagogue was built in the sixteenth century, with its design taking roots in Kabbalistic principles. Its southern wall contains three Arks, the bima is located in the center, with benches for the congregation arranged around it. The interior dome is decorated with depictions of musical instruments used in the Temple in Jerusalem, symbols of the tribes of Israel, and four symbolic crowns. This historical synagogue is a majestic sight to see, and is commonly shown to tour groups visiting Safed for its beauty.

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Church of the Nativity
© PR
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Church of the Nativity

icon-location-pin Bethlehem

One of the oldest continuously used churches in the world, the Church of the Nativity is more of a complex, as it also houses the Church of St. Catherine and the Grotto of the Nativity. Visitors should be aware that Bethlehem is beyond the Green Line, and is thus not part of Israel’s internationally recognized boundaries and is governed by the Palestinian Authority. A recognized tourist spot, it is considered safe, but be aware that crossing there from Israel will require you to go through Israeli checkpoints, so have your passport ready.

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Hechal Yehuda
© Ilan Costika
Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

Hechal Yehuda Synagogue

icon-location-pin Old North

Sometimes referred to as the Recanati Synagogue or the Seashell Synagogue, this synagogue is known for its unique appearance. Designed by architect Yitzchak Toledano, and named for Yehuda Leon Recanati, it was modeled to resemble the seashells on the shores of the Greek city of Thessaloniki, hometown to the Recanati family. The inside of the synagogue is as impressive as the outside, with stained glass windows, soft carpet, a monumental ark and seating that accommodates over 600 people. There are no internal pillars and the dome shape means that all guests and see and hear the service. It is affiliated with Greek Sephardic and Orthodox Judaism.  

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Church of All Nations
© PR
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Church of All Nations

icon-location-pin East Jerusalem

The church itself is Catholic and contains multiple mosaics representing the 12 nations that helped fund it. The church’s location in the tranquil Garden of Gethsemane - another significant reason to visit. Thought to have been an olive tree garden even during Christ’s day, the venue is known for its eight beautiful olive trees – dated to be around 2,000 years old. Approach the garden and church from a path down the Mount of Olives and stop by at the Dominus Flevit Church, where Jesus is said to have wept over the future of Jerusalem. 

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Par Derriere Bistro
© PR
Restaurants, Bistros

Par Derriere Bistro

icon-location-pin Tel Aviv - Jaffa

Par Derriere is a romantic wine bar, divided into intimate spaces, each with a unique atmosphere. In the front section, designed to look like a European café and delicatessen, visitors can purchase products for take home. Inside, an intimate wine bar that sits adjacent to an open area, where smoking is allowed. The left hosts Kibbutz dining-hall style tables and chairs and further back sits a room for private events. The highlight is a magically designed garden out back, perfect for date night. The drink menu contains a large selection of fine wines, imported drinks and artistic cocktails. Dine on tapas or a finely crafted salad, a specialty Italian dish or one of the other fine menu items, such as roast beef carpaccio, chicken liver pate or a cheese platter. Finish off with a delectable dark chocolate mousse, crême brulée or Nutella pancake with banana and nuts.

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Gatsby
© Igor Favarov
Bars, Cocktail bars

Gatsby

icon-location-pin Jerusalem City Center

It’s a Thursday night, and you’ve suddenly become inspired to experience the F. Scott Fitzgerald-deemed ‘Jazz Age’ in the city of the Biblical Age. Impossible? Of course not. This is Jerusalem, of course there’s a bar for that. Sitting behind a black, unmarked door, this bar oozes ‘speakeasy’ before you even set foot in it. With wickedly-masterminded cocktails (including using light bulbs for glasses), you can see the bartenders pouring their heart, soul, and passion into crafting these wicked little delights for you. Tucked away, relatively far west of the shuk, creativity and style has almost never been done better in a city that prides itself on tradition.

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Bars, Cocktail bars

Douglas J

icon-location-pin Hadar-Carmel‏

Come to Douglas J for the spectacular nighttime view of Haifa bay, and stay for the uniquely themed signature cocktails that commemorate the '27 club' – the famous rockers who met their demise at the aforementioned age. They’re all there in spirit – from Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin, to Kurt Kobain and Amy Winehouse, each with a refreshing alcoholic tribute. Munch on the innovative pub food such as the rich polenta fries, served elegantly with fresh local herbs and a coating of parmesan cheese, or burger sliders, served on a choux pastry bun and soaked in the thumping house music and the twinkling city lights below.

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Imperial Craft Coctail Bar
© Ben Yuster
Bars, Cocktail bars

Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar

icon-location-pin Tel Aviv City Center

Hidden inside the Imperial Hotel, the Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar is the top of the top when it comes to craft cocktails. This temple to the lost art of cocktail goes back to the source, featuring veteran bartenders from the younger years of the White City. With an Asian-colonial inspired kitchen and a wide range of music from jazz to rock n’ roll, it’s no coincidence Imperial was crowned Drinks International magazine’s ‘Best Bar in Africa and the Middle East.’

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Silon
© Silon FB page
Bars, Cocktail bars

Silon

icon-location-pin Tel Aviv City Center

Located on the bustling King George Street is Silon, an old neighborhood bar that has kept its unique character for the past 13 years. Although it’s considered an all time neighborhood bar, Silon still allows for a wild night out. The outdoor seating is great for people watching and talking, but inside you will need to work on your shouting skills, but the music is worth it. Silon serves delicious cocktails, including a Bloody Mary with a gin base rather than vodka that is definitely worth checking out, as well as certain beers otherwise hard to find in Israel. Silon has a happy hour offering 50% off the alcohol menu, which unlike other bars is available every day of the week and on weekends too.

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Mirror Bar
© PR
Bars, Hotel bars

Mirror Bar

icon-location-pin Jerusalem City Center

Located in the chic Mamilla Hotel, the Mirror Bar is a perfect pick for a romantic date or cocktails with friends in a serene setting. Mirror bar attracts an assortment of people too, from tourists to businessmen, to native Israelis. Want an added bonus? Reflect on the cool cocktail list and get tasting, the food is sumptuous too.

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