Tour Israel: What are the best Jerusalem foodie destinations?

From traditional Jewish cuisine to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, Jerusalem’s culinary landscape reflects the fusion of cultures that have shaped the city for centuries.

 Jerusalem Food Truck Festival (photo credit: NOAM ROMANO)
Jerusalem Food Truck Festival
(photo credit: NOAM ROMANO)

Whether you are a food enthusiast or simply looking to explore new flavors, Jerusalem’s culinary scene promises to satisfy every palate and offers an unforgettable culinary journey in the heart of Israel’s capital.

Last week, we took you on a tasty tour of shuk Mahaneh Yehuda, Jerusalem’s open-air market, which whetted our appetites and made us eager to hear about restaurants located around the city. As it turns out, the culinary scene in Jerusalem is exceptional – even when compared to Tel Aviv – and a paradise for food lovers.

The gastronomy of Jerusalem is deeply rooted in its multicultural heritage. From traditional Jewish cuisine to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, Jerusalem’s culinary landscape reflects the fusion of cultures that have shaped the city for centuries. Visitors can indulge in popular local street food such as falafel, hummus, and shwarma or sit down to a gourmet feast in award-winning restaurants.

In addition, the city hosts a number of food festivals throughout the year, showcasing the diverse culinary offerings of Jerusalem. These events provide opportunities to taste special dishes, participate in cooking workshops, and learn the history and traditions behind each culinary creation. Here are a few recommendations.

1. Jerusalem Food Truck Festival

The sixth annual Jerusalem Food Truck Festival will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings during July and August. Top chefs from some of the best restaurants in the city will prepare dishes inside food trucks stationed in the Ben Hinnom Valley Park. Each chef will prepare three dishes that cost between NIS 35 and NIS 45 (with plenty of vegan options). Diners will be treated to live music performances by local ensembles while they enjoy their meal. This year, the Food Truck Festival will feature an even larger number of culinary choices, providing the public with the opportunity to experience a wide variety of tastes at very reasonable prices. The festival will take place only in the evenings, when temperatures in Jerusalem fall drastically after a long, hot day. Because space is limited, different restaurants rotate every two weeks. All restaurants participating in the festival are kosher. 

 Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem (credit: Amit Geron Photography)
Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem (credit: Amit Geron Photography)

Open: Tue, Wed, Thu through the end of August, 6 p.m.-11 p.m.Cost: NIS 35-NIS 45 per dishLocation: Ben Hinnom Valley Park

2. Shukriya

Avraham and Odaya Freezan, a chef and a pastry chef, respectively, opened Shukriya two years ago at the height of the COVID epidemic, both of them having worked for many years at several of Jerusalem’s top establishments. The idea to open Shukriya came to them as they were wandering around Jerusalem’s Old City with plenty of time on their hands, since the restaurants they’d been working at had been shuttered due to the pandemic. They began purchasing food items, packaging them nicely, and selling them to clients all around the country. It was during this time that they were first exposed to Arab cuisine. This led them to open a center that hosts events and workshops that focus on Arab cuisine, and functions as a restaurant on Friday mornings. Each workshop ends with a scrumptious breakfast during which participants get to enjoy the dishes they had just learned to create, alongside delicacies prepared by Odaya and Avraham. 

Open: Fri, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for breakfastCost: NIS 420 for the workshopLocation: 3 King George Street, Jerusalem.

3. The Waldorf Astoria tops the charts

There are lots of choices for accommodation in Jerusalem, from luxury hotels to youth hostels, as well as a multitude of Airbnb options. On this trip, we chose to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, ranked among 2023’s five top hotels in the Middle East and North Africa by the prestigious Travel + Leisure magazine. It is the only hotel in Israel that made it onto this list this year. 

4. Castel Winery

Of course, no outing in Israel is complete without a visit to a winery. My favorite winery in the Jerusalem environs is the Domaine du Castel Winery, owned by the Ben-Zaken family and located in Moshav Yad Hashmona. The winery, originally established in 1988 in Ramat Raziel by Eli Ben-Zaken, has a great reputation for producing high-quality wines that reflect the unique terroir of the region.

On particular Fridays, visitors are welcome to join guided tours and wine tastings, bask in the view of the surrounding Jerusalem hills, and enjoy delicious food, as well as music by the Señor Aroshas band.

Open: September 8 and October 13 for upcoming tastingsCost: NIS 50 includes entrance and a glass of wine.Location: Moshav Yad Hashmona

Translated by Hannah Hochner.