(photo credit: Courtesy)
You’ve eaten half an ice cream sandwich, a cheesy Georgian pastry, a juice, stuffed grape leaves and a beer with popcorn. Can you find room for a burger as well? The founder of the culinary tour application BiteMojo is betting on the answer being “yes” for hungry, adventurous foodies. The year-old Jerusalem- based company, started by husband- and-wife team Yael Weiss-Gadish and Michael Weiss, offers self-guided, app-based food tours in Berlin, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rome, Barcelona and soon London. And while the app is generally geared toward street food, they offered a special Jerusalem-based tour last week focusing on upscale restaurants, as part of the city’s Open Restaurants event.
Kosher diners got bites at four of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, while those not particular about kashrut dined at five upscale eateries, at the cost of NIS 220 and NIS 250 per person respectively.
Though after eating four dishes within two-and-a-half hours on the kosher track, I find it hard to imagine how anyone could have found room for a fifth.
To use the application, you download it free to your phone, then locate the city you want to explore. There, you select from the tour options available; the Open Restaurants tour was understandably pricier than their standards – most are NIS 110 or less.
A 90-minute “winter family fun” tour in Mahane Yehuda is NIS 60 per person for half a tortilla sandwich, a soup and half an ice cream sandwich. A Jerusalem nightlife tour, which includes several alcoholic drinks and snacks around the shuk, is NIS 110. In Tel Aviv, a vegan food tour of the south of the city is NIS 120 per person, as is six bites around Levinsky Market – including fish and chips, hummus and Turkish burekas.
Once you’ve paid for the tour, you decide when to get started – some only apply during specific times of day. The app will guide you from stop to stop, and at each destination you show the proprietors the app and hit “redeem bite” to get your snack. You can pause and restart the tour at any point, and except for the ones that are valid only for a specific time you can use the tour in the six-month period after purchase.
As with just about any Israeli eatery, the service and attitude you encounter will vary widely. When I stopped in the four Jerusalem restaurants – Ana, Hamotzi, 1868 and Angelica – some were warm and friendly, while others treated us like second-class citizens. Tipping is at your discretion at each location – obviously grabbing a juice from a stand is different than eating a burger at a restaurant.
The special BiteMojo tour was one of the many options offered during the Open Restaurants week, which saw Jerusalem eateries throwing open their doors and hosting unique events. From live music and snacks aboard the Jerusalem Light Rail to a pasta-making workshop or a culinary tour of Mea She’arim, there were dozens of events for all ages and interests.
BiteMojo itself also has seasonal and kid-friendly options, including an upcoming Hanukka package which is valid from December 17-20. The tour, NIS 75 per person, includes a marzipan doughnut, a fried empanada, juice from Uzi Eli, a Georgian pastry and a special Hanukka show at Beit Avichai (which takes place twice a day).