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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Black

    $$ | Center City | American

    This national chain lends bling to burgers: try the Popeye, made with beef and spinach, or the lamb patty. All burgers are served with a range...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Focaccia Bar

    $$ | Center City | Italian

    This popular haunt has been baking fluffy focaccias for 20 years. There are many toppings (don't miss the black-olive spread), and some tasty...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Holy Cafe

    $$ | Jewish Quarter | Israeli

    With wooden tables in the tile-floored dining room and under the trees in the nearby square, this is one of the few full-service restaurants...Read More

  • 11. Ima

    $$ | Center City | Middle Eastern

    With a name that means "Mom," Ima honors the owner's Kurdish-Jewish mother, who inspired many of the excellent traditional Middle Eastern offerings...Read More

  • 12. Iwo's

    $$ | Center City | Fast Food

    Consistently ranked among the country's best burger places, Iwo's was founded by a butcher and serves expertly grilled patties on pillowy rolls...Read More

  • 13. Kohinoor

    $$ | Center City | Indian

    Jerusalem's beloved (and only) Indian restaurant offers a tantalizing menu of expertly prepared curries, tikkas, and biryanis. Owner Beni Binyamin...Read More

  • 14. Nadi

    $$ | Center City | Israeli

    Nadi has great food all day but shines in the morning, when the breakfast plates come crowded with mouthwatering spreads of sun-dried tomato...Read More

  • 15. Nafoura

    $$ | Christian Quarter | Middle Eastern

    Just inside the Jaffa Gate, Nafoura offers a tranquil courtyard for alfresco lunchtime dining. Your table might even lean against the Old City...Read More

  • 16. P2 Pizza

    $$ | Center City | Italian

    Grab a seat at the bar and sip a Peroni while you watch the young, friendly staff roll out extra-thin pizza dough in this narrow temple to Italian...Read More

  • 17. Piccolino

    $$ | Center City | Italian

    Inside an atmospheric old building, this kosher Italian restaurant has stone walls, graceful arches, and a sunny courtyard. The house salad...Read More

  • 18. Rahmo

    $$ | Center City | Israeli

    You'll probably smell this eatery long before you see it: rich stews of eggplant, potatoes, and meat cook all day on kerosene burners, and the...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Te'enim

    $$ | Center City | Vegetarian

    In the classic limestone Confederation House—with stone arches, flagstone floors, and tantalizing views of the Old City walls—Te'enim finds...Read More

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