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. 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

  • 2. Caffit

    $$ | German Colony | Café

    This German Colony institution, part of a chain, is well-known for its sweet potato soup and juicy salmon skewers. Morning meals are generous...Read More

  • 3. Focaccia Moshava

    $$$ | German Colony | Italian

    This kosher cousin of the popular Downtown restaurant welcomes you with a large display of fresh vegetables and an open taboon oven where...Read More

  • 4. HaChazer

    $$$$ | Baka | Israeli

    In a former train station, this spacious eatery's dark-wood tables and white cloth napkins might be unremarkable, but the interesting menu,...Read More

  • 5. Hamiznon Kitchen Station

    $$ | German Colony | Israeli

    In the former cafeteria of Jerusalem's train station, this casual eatery prints its menus on newspaper broadsheet and has maintained more than...Read More

  • 6. Hasandwich Shel Rachel

    $$ | Baka | Middle Eastern

    This Tunisian hole-in-the-wall offers pillowy hand-rolled couscous, slow-cooked stews, and zingy tuna and egg sandwiches, served outside on...Read More

  • 7. Roza

    $$ | German Colony | Italian

    The varied menu, generous portions, and reasonable prices have made this kosher restaurant a hit with locals in the German Colony. Start with...Read More

  • 8. Adon Cohen

    $$ | East Talpiot | Israeli

    Levana Cohen has transformed the local grocery store owned by her parents in the grungy Talpiot neighborhood into one of the city's most talked...Read More

  • 9. Baba Israeli Kitchen

    $$ | German Colony | Middle Eastern

    This popular chummousiya , as restaurants serving hummus-based dishes are called, is a worthwhile stop for a quick lunch or dinner. Try the...Read More

  • 10. Colony

    $$$ | Baka | Eclectic

    Brown winged leather armchairs and a long bar at the entrance make Colony a great place to share a drink and a leisurely conversation. The space...Read More

  • 11. Joy

    $$$$ | German Colony | Eclectic

    In the heart of busy Emek Refa'im, the main drag of the German Colony, this is a popular spot for a family meal, quiet time for two, or a get...Read More

  • 12. Luciana

    $$ | German Colony | Italian

    Perfect for open-air dining, this Italian-style trattoria has a spacious deck with a good view of bustling Emek Refa'im. Late at night you'll...Read More

  • 13. Olive

    $$$ | German Colony | Steakhouse

    A German Colony landmark, Olive attracts a more mature crowd that seems to prefer the glass-enclosed, bilevel front yard to the Templar-period...Read More

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