Why Jerusalem just might have the world’s best restaurant scene
Explore the culinary wonders of this remarkable city in a myriad of settings, where old meets new and east meets west.
Long defined by its historical and religious roots, the city of Jerusalem welcomes a new kind of pilgrimage – and its one for food lovers. Located on the cusp of the Mediterranean, where east meets west, Jerusalem’s culinary landscape is a symbol of its rich, varied community, where international tastes converge. Presenting a unique fusion of food, Jerusalem’s menu is an eclectic one, and embraces flavours from all over the world from the Middle East, North Africa and South America, as well as Asian spices and classic European cuisine.
Teeming with vibrant streets, busy squares and restaurants, Jerusalem’s modern awakening is ever- present, marking a cultural renaissance of creative fine-dining, critically acclaimed chefs and lively market stalls with a new night-time persona. Mahane Yehuda, ‘MachneYuda’ to locals, is Jerusalem’s most central market and widely recognised as a symbol of the lively communities who call the city home. Famed as a crowded tangle of colourful stalls, the market brings together a bustling, dynamic exchange between vendors, busy locals and tourists, offering a variety of spices, meats and fruits alongside juice bars, coffee stands and popular bakeries.
After hours, the city’s main marketplace dramatically transforms, reinventing itself as a lively nightlife hub with bars, clubs and DJ sets. Revealing its artistic alter-ego, the market showcases a vast open air gallery of contemporary and historical figures spray painted on the shutters, creating a lively atmosphere for socialising and dining at night. Brought to life by British born Israeli artist Solomon Souza, the marketplace contributes to Jerusalem’s burgeoning arts scene, fit for any hungry millennial.
Inspiring one of the city’s top restaurants, MachneYuda, a delicious gastro venue bringing ideas both old and new, the market is integrated within the city’s communities and is the beating heart of its food scene. Utilising an endless supply of ground beef, pickled mango, grilled onions dates and spices, it’s no surprise MachneYuda is deemed Jerusalem’s signature restaurant. Similarly, Jacko’s Street makes use of the market’s produce and whips it up in front of guests in their urban open style kitchen. Those in search of the finer things must try the Rooftop restaurant on top of the Mamilla Hotel. A venue no guest forgets, the Rooftop offers a varied menu of fresh natural ingredients, from grilled meats to fish dishes with magnificent views of the Old City.
On a more intimate scale, the Eucalyptus restaurant, a mere stone’s throw away from the Old City walls, also makes for a memorable visit and has been touted one of the best restaurants in Israel. Famed for its modern reinterpretations of biblical cuisine, Eucalyptus infuses spices and herbs harmoniously into its dishes creating a real zesty Middle Eastern flavour. The Anna restaurant is perhaps the city’s most unique dining venue and not only aims to serve great Italian inspired food but looks to better the lives of young people living in the community. Whilst tucking into a delicious truffle oil infused linguine, guests can feel satisfied in their contribution to the restaurant’s wider social influence.
For those in search of eye candy, the bustling Muslim Quarter boasts a delightful view of pomegranate towers and rich spices, all of which line the food stalls in the Old City. Hummus, pita and falafel stalls are omnipresent throughout both modern and ancient compounds and remain signature delicacies to the city. Additionally, one of the most vibrant eateries in the city is The First Station a centre for leisure, culinary, tourism and events. Renovated from an old train station, The First Station is brimming with restaurants, cafes and drink bars. Adom remains a popular dining venue, specialising in seafood and fresh fish, with string French and Italian influences. In addition to its range of restaurants the complex also boasts brasseries, patisseries and ice cream parlours with many diving in for a scoop from Vaniglia’s fresh counter.
To celebrate Jerusalem’s dynamic food movement, its restaurants open their doors annually for the Jerusalem Open Restaurants Festival. Running from 13th – 17th November 2018, the Festival is a celebration of Israel’s long standing culinary delights and talented local and international chefs. Offering tours of the tastes and specialities of the Jerusalem table, the festival allows food lovers and visitors to explore behind the scenes, exploring street markets to the most elegant establishments. Visitors can expect food talks, meetings and tastings with some of Jerusalem’s top chefs.
Whatever kind of food you are after the city of Jerusalem has it all and it continues to welcome cuisines from all over the world, making it one of the most flavourful and culturally diverse cities in the world.
For more information on the city of Jerusalem, visit: itraveljerusalem.com.