Jerusalem Restaurants

Jerusalem’s dining scene is smaller and more modest than Tel Aviv's, but is steeped in 4,000 years of culinary traditions. Among Jewish residents, more than a century of immigration has infused the local fare with the best of Kurdish, Moroccan, French, Polish, Yemenite, and Italian flavors. On the Palestinian side, most restaurants rely on a rich heritage of family cooking. On both sides, an elite class of chefs has begun combining the best of local ingredients with advanced cooking techniques and imaginative serving styles.

All this is to say that when you’re in Jerusalem you can enjoy the best of both worlds: hole-in-the-wall eateries brimming with aromatic stews and garlicky hummus or high-end dining rooms serving inspired and elegant riffs on the city’s flavors and produce.

Some cuisine designations are self-explanatory, but other terms may be confusing. A restaurant billing itself as "dairy" will serve meals without meat; many such places do serve fish, in addition to pasta, soup, and salads. "Oriental" usually means Middle Eastern (in contrast to Western), often meaning hummus, kebabs, and stews.

The term kosher doesn’t imply a particular style of cooking, only that the cooks followed Jewish dietary law in selecting and preparing the food. In Jerusalem, where there are many kosher standards from which to choose, the selection can be dizzying. But unless specific kosher standards govern your eating habits, don't worry. Jerusalem is home to dozens of kosher restaurants preparing excellent food. Remember that most kosher restaurants are closed for Friday dinner and Saturday lunch in observation of the Jewish Sabbath. A generous handful of nonkosher cafés, bars, and restaurants remain open all weekend.

Dress codes are pretty much nonexistent in Jerusalem's restaurants (as in the rest of Israel). People tend to dress casually—jeans are perfectly appropriate almost everywhere anytime. A modicum of neatness and modesty (trousers instead of jeans, a button-down shirt instead of a T-shirt) might be expected in the more exclusive establishments. In conservative neighborhoods, women will feel more comfortable covered up. If you brought the kids, you're in luck: nearly every Israeli restaurant is kid-friendly, and many have special menus and high chairs.

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  • 1. 1868

    $$$$ | Center City | Israeli

    In an old stone house with a delightful back garden, 1868 is Jerusalem's most innovative, exacting kosher restaurant, on par with the city's...Read More

  • 2. Azura

    $ | Center City | Middle Eastern

    Jerusalem is famous for its Kurdish kubbeh soup, made with softball-size meat-and-semolina dumplings, and Azura is the perfect place to try...Read More

  • 3. Azzahra

    $$ | East Jerusalem | Middle Eastern

    On a quiet alley off the main East Jerusalem thoroughfare, this white-tablecloth restaurant in a hotel has long been popular with journalists...Read More

  • 4. Café Yehoshua

    $$ | Center City | American

    One of the restaurants that locals flock to for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Café Yehoshua offers an Israeli take on American diner food. The...Read More

  • 5. Chakra

    $$$$ | Center City | Israeli

    Despite being one of the city's best-known restaurants, Chakra still feigns anonymity: its name is nowhere in sight. It draws a lively...Read More

  • 6. Cielo

    $$$$ | Center City | Italian

    Personable chef Adi Cohen has been serving the same classic dishes from his family's native northern Italy for a couple of decades—and they...Read More

  • 7. Eucalyptus

    $$$$ | Center City | Middle Eastern

    Chef Moshe Basson, repeated winner of international couscous contests, has mined the kitchens of older Jewish and Arab women to revive nearly...Read More

  • 8. Machneyuda

    $$$$ | Center City | Israeli

    On the edge of its namesake market, this restaurant is considered one of the best in Jerusalem, possibly the country. Celebrity-chef Asaf Granit...Read More

  • 9. Menza

    $$$ | City Center | Israeli

    Sink into one of Menza's retro-style banquettes or take a seat around a robust wooden table for a deliciously prepared meal in this lovely café...Read More

  • 10. Mona

    $$$$ | Center City | Israeli

    Nestled into a stonewalled garden, Mona has a working fireplace and a tree growing through the indoor section, creating a rustic setting for...Read More

  • 11. Sarwa Street Kitchen

    $ | East Jerusalem | Eclectic

    Brothers Mo and Mick Tahhan opened this cheery café in the space that was once their father's travel agency with the vision of creating a gathering...Read More

  • 12. Talbiye

    $$$$ | Center City | French

    Just beside the Jerusalem Theatre, Talbiye is a cozy neighborhood restaurant and wine bar specializing in French-Israeli cuisine. The soundtrack...Read More

  • 13. Abu Shukri

    $ | Muslim Quarter | Middle Eastern

    In the heart of the Old City, this place has some of the best hummus in town, served fast to locals crammed around rickety tables under fluorescent...Read More

  • 14. Adom

    $$$ | German Colony | Israeli

    The name means "red" in Hebrew, referring to the 150 kinds of wine that decorate every wall in this large yet cozy restaurant. The menu has...Read More

  • 15. American Colony Hotel

    $ | East Jerusalem | Café

    This upscale hotel is an elegant 19th-century limestone building with cane furniture, Armenian ceramic tiles, and a delightful courtyard. The...Read More

  • 16. Angelica

    $$$$ | Center City | Israeli

    This popular eatery with a geometric mirrored ceiling is steps from the King David Street hotel district. Sashimi with wasabi reduction comes...Read More

  • 17. Anna

    $$ | Center City | Italian

    This imposing 200-year-old stone building called Beit Ticho (Ticho House) was once the home of artist Anna Ticho, whose evocative drawings of...Read More

  • 18. Askadinya

    $$ | East Jerusalem | Eclectic

    At this East Jerusalem bistro, the stone walls are hung with local art and antique musical instruments. In summer, you can enjoy your meal on...Read More

  • 19. Austrian Hospice Café

    $ | Muslim Quarter | Austrian

    This Viennese-style second-floor garden café in a guesthouse for pilgrims is a refined retreat from the chaos of the Old City markets down below...Read More

  • 20. Barood

    $$$ | Center City | Middle Eastern

    Jerusalemite Daniella Lerer combines her family's Sephardic culinary traditions with modern Israeli cooking techniques and personal favorites...Read More

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