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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Tmol Shilshom

    $$ | Center City | Israeli

    The name—a Hebrew literary phrase that translates roughly as "yesteryear"—is a clue to the character of the place. A tiny passageway leads to...Read More

  • 8. Scala

    $$$$ | King David St. | Israeli

    Dark wood, atmospheric lighting, and jazzy background music enhance the sophisticated feel of this restaurant in the David Citadel Hotel. For...Read More

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