Israeli falafel wins! World's best falafel in world's 9th happiest state

It should come as no surprise that Israel was recently named the best place to eat falafel. Yemeni Jews made it popular in the 1950s and it’s now Israel’s national dish.

 Tomer, Aharon and Oz Ben Hur offer freshly fried falafel balls at the Ben Hur Falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Tomer, Aharon and Oz Ben Hur offer freshly fried falafel balls at the Ben Hur Falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)

Every now and again, one should take a break from work, the stresses of daily life and depressing news, and treat oneself to some comfort food. One of my favorites is falafel, the deep-fried balls made from chickpeas and served in a pita. Although falafel may have originated in Egypt, it should come as no surprise that Israel was recently named the best place to eat it. Yemeni Jews made it popular in the 1950s and it’s now Israel’s national dish.

A global survey on falafel restaurants was recently carried out by 10bis.co.il, the leading Israeli restaurant delivery company. Ten bis is a Hebrew expression for “Give me a bite!”

“Though it’s a golden oldie in Israel, the famous falafel has conquered the world’s palate – searches for ‘falafel near me’ have increased 50% worldwide in the past month,” 10bis said, based on a Google Trends study conducted on February 21. “This plant-based crispy ball receives 1.6 million Google searches monthly, suggesting that the boom in global popularity is fueled by the trend in veganism dominating the world’s diet.”

Inspired by the results of the initial study, foodie experts at 10bis investigated which world cities offer the best falafel by seeking to evaluate the quality of the dish in major metropolitan areas via content analysis of 27 million reviews from a sample of more than 450,000 restaurants in 61 cities.

It gave Haifa the highest score of 9.07 out of 10, crowning it as the city with the best falafel in the world. It was followed by Tel Aviv (8.70), Jerusalem and Beirut in joint third place (7.92), Amsterdam (7.62), Brussels (7.55), Athens (7.50), Berlin (7.47), Lisbon (7.46), and Copenhagen and Dublin (7.14). 

Three falafel and salad-filled pitas. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)Three falafel and salad-filled pitas. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

“Despite only 4% of restaurants in the Israeli city offering this dish, Haifa has the tastiest falafel of all places analyzed (4.67/5 falafel rating),” 10bis said. “Taking the second spot is Tel Aviv, with 8.70 out of 10. Interestingly, Tel Aviv has 13 falafel restaurants per 100,000 inhabitants, more than first place Haifa with nine.” 

It noted that in Jerusalem, 9.36% of restaurants specialize in falafel, ahead of both Haifa (3.95%) and Tel Aviv (2.56%). For more information on this appetizing study, you can visit www.10bis.co.il

I thought of the falafel study while reading the 2022 World Happiness Report issued by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network on March 18. It ranked Israel ninth in the world, its best ranking since the report was launched 10 years ago.

The World Happiness Report, based on global survey data of how people evaluate their own lives in more than 150 countries, says it factors a country’s GDP, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, citizen generosity and perceptions of corruption into its ranking. 

Each country’s response to COVID-19 was also a factor, the report said. Israel was one of the first countries to vaccinate a significant percentage of its population. 

The list names Finland as the world’s happiest country for the fifth year in a row, with Afghanistan as the unhappiest. It’s interesting to note that although Israel made the top 10, it ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of how many respondents to the survey would opt for a calm life (like in Finland) over an exciting life.

“The World Happiness Report 2022 reveals a bright light in dark times,” the authors concluded. “The pandemic brought not only pain and suffering but also an increase in social support and benevolence. As we battle the ills of disease and war, it is essential to remember the universal desire for happiness and the capacity of individuals to rally to each other’s support in times of great need.”

Israelis are definitely good at that. Let me take this opportunity to wish readers a happy Passover, blessed Easter and Ramadan Kareem. Whatever holiday you celebrate, we wish you betayavon (bon appetite)!