A healthy alternative in Jerusalem

Nagila offers vegans and carnivores a hearty selection of homemade dishes.

April 16, 2015 11:38
3 minute read.
Nagila restaurant in Jerusalem

Nagila restaurant in Jerusalem. (photo credit: PR)

The choice of restaurants in Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood has multiplied in the past few years, but although many of them focus on using the fresh ingredients from the nearby Mahaneh Yehuda market, most cannot claim to offer healthy options. There is an ever-increasing demand for vegan and gluten-free dishes, so it is wonderful that Nagila can satisfy that demand.

Nagila is located on a small street between Agrippas and Jaffa streets, next to Hamotzi, the restaurant owned by TV’s Master Chef winner Avi Levy.

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We began our meal at Nagila with homemade lemonade (NIS 10), which had an amazing fresh taste without being too sweet or too acidic. Many of the dishes come in two sizes, so we opted to try a selection of small starters so we could get a chance to taste a larger number of dishes. First up was the soup of the day (NIS 18/25), which was a light yet creamy cauliflower, Jerusalem artichoke and mangold soup.

Homemade bread and dips are served with all the soups, salads and pastries, and we loved the tomato and garlic dip.

Next we tried the Nagila salad (NIS 25/45) and the quinoa salad (NIS 26/46) and thoroughly enjoyed them both. The Nagila salad was a light fruity mix of apple, pear, walnuts, lettuce topped with feta cheese and a tangy citrus vinaigrette, which I could happily bottle and take home. The quinoa salad was a mix of leaves, nuts, seeds, cranberries and sweet potato. I prefer a higher ratio of quinoa to leaves, but it was delicious and a dish I would happily order again. The smaller size salad is perfect as a starter, a side dish or a delicious snack.

The most substantial starter was the Caribbean pastry (NIS 38) made form 70% whole wheat curry-flavored pastry filled with root vegetables served with yogurt.

The pastry was thin and crispy, and the generous sized dish was ample as a shared starter or could easily be a smaller main course.

Our favorite dish overall was the pumpkin cream ravioli (NIS 62).

The pasta itself was very light, the four-cheese ravioli had a rich cheese flavor but was not too heavy, and the thyme, honey and pumpkin sauce was smooth and not too sweet or creamy. I am already dreaming about having it again.

Our final main course was the coconut curry stew (NIS 55) served on a bed of whole grain couscous, which had a lovely mild curry flavor. But we would have preferred more sauce, as we found the couscous quite dry.

The dessert menu varies, as the cakes are made on the premises.

They all cost NIS 25 or NIS 35 with sorbet or ice cream. Our favorite dessert was the carrot cake with vanilla ice cream, a warm and spicy moist cake, which tasted like a Halloween party in my mouth. The chocolate banana cake had a more subtle flavor profile and was less unique. We also tried the apple pie but found the pastry slightly too thick and would have preferred vanilla sauce poured over it rather than ice cream.

Nagila is a welcome addition to the mix. As well as offering the vegan and vegetarian clientele a safe haven, it also offers carnivores a healthy alternative without compromising on taste. My dining companion was more than slightly dubious when I suggested that we review a restaurant that has such a strong emphasis on vegan dishes, but he was very impressed by all the dishes we were served.

Nagila also hosts a number of special events for artists, musicians and, in the summer, there is outdoor seating at the front and the back of the restaurant, away from the bustle of the main streets.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Nagila Kosher 5 Mashiach Baruchov St., Jerusalem Tel: (02) 622-3331 Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. until an hour before Shabbat

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