It’s not often that I get to write about a restaurant that most readers won’t have heard of before. But unless you live in the neighborhood (and I’m referring of course to Arnona) you may not have heard of Cafe Etz Tzion, which is located on Kfar Etzion Road across from the American Embassy.
I was introduced to this lovely small cafe by my good friend and fellow journalist Fran Kritz, from whom I also unabashedly stole the title of this article. I’ve met Fran there several times and this time she said, “I hope you’re not going to write a review of this place. I love coming here and I’m afraid if you write about it, it will get too crowded.”
“I hope you’re not going to write a review of this place. I love coming here and I’m afraid if you write about it, it will get too crowded.”Fran
So she asked me to make a simple request of all of you. If Fran is in Israel (she travels back and forth) please don’t come to Cafe Etz Zion between 8:30-9:30 a.m. so she can have her morning meetings in private. OK, Fran?
The cafe is almost all outdoors and you feel almost as if you’re sitting in someone’s backyard. In the winter, part of the cafe is under plastic sheeting. The owner and chef is Ben Tzion, 26, who formerly owned a cheese shop in Mahaneh Yehuda.
“As soon as corona ended in March 2021, I opened the cafe,” he said. “My friends all thought I was crazy but I did it anyway.”
The kashrut, by the way, is a private mehadrin hechsher from Igud Harabanim B’Yisrael, which Ben says is similar to Tzohar and is significantly cheaper than the Rabbanut Hechsher.
“We’re all Jews, we all live in Israel, and I serve only dairy food,” Ben said. “What could be non-kosher?”
What could be non-kosher?
The menu is very similar to what you can find in almost every cafe in Jerusalem: breakfast, pizza and pasta. But every item is made with care and is just delicious.
We asked Ben to surprise us and he brought us an herb omelet and shakshuka, along with small dishes of olives, tehina, a delicious blue cheese and a feta in olive oil. It came with in-house made bread that is similar to focaccia but crisper. Breakfast cost NIS 59 and includes dips and a small salad.
The shakshuka was made with fresh tomatoes and onions, and I used the fresh bread to scoop up any extra sauce. The herb omelet was good but nothing special. The coffee is from an Israeli company called Dada and was good.
“Everything I’ve had here is delicious and the vegetables taste like they were picked this morning,” Fran said. “It’s like God served breakfast.”
Cafe Etz TzionKfar EtzionHours: Sunday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.–8 p.m.Friday 8 a.m.-1 p.m.Kashrut: Igud Harabanim B’Yisrael
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.