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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Gabriel

    $$$$ | Center City | Eclectic

    Canadian immigrant Harvey Sandler bought this kosher landmark and added innovative cooking techniques and elegant service to transform it into...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Rooftop

    $$$$ | Center City | Israeli

    On the top of the Mamilla Hotel, this open-air restaurant lays claim to one of the best views of Jerusalem, and you can enjoy it from a cushioned...Read More

  • 10. Kohinoor

    $$ | Givat Ram | Indian

    Moghul-influenced design elements immediately set a tone of quiet, informal elegance at this hotel restaurant. Naan breads, piquant dips, and...Read More

  • 11. 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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