Israel had been on my bucket list of places to travel for so long, After three days spent traveling between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, I found myself captivated by Israel. Tel Aviv now even ranks among my favourite cities in the world.
One of the reasons I loved Israel so much? The food and drink were incredible. Some of my favorite foods come from the Middle East, but I didn’t expect everything to be so great- the flavors didn’t even begin to compare to how Israeli food is adapted in the States or UK.
And, there was no shortage of vegetarian options. Generally, Israelis eat pretty healthy, incorporating a lot of fruits and vegetables into their diet. In recent years, there’s been increased focus in cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on offering vegetarian or vegan dishes, with a whole slew of veg focused restaurants popping up (big fan of Citizen in Tel Aviv).
Needless to say, there was no chance of me going hungry while in Israel. If anything, I had a hard time choosing where to eat and left vowing to return someday, in part, so I could check out places I didn’t make it to.
5 Foods You Must Try When Visiting Israel
Falafel: Israel’s unmissable snack. Chickpeas mixed with herbs and spices are shaped into a ball and then deep fried. I’ve had countless falafel over the years, but never realised what proper falafel should taste like until I visited HaKosem in Tel Aviv- next level. Whether you enjoy it alone or stuffed in a pita along with salads, tahini, hummus and pickles, it’s a real treat. In Jerusalem, we had a great falafel pita near the Mahane Yehuda Market.
Hummus: You haven’t had hummus until you’ve had it in Israel. Served warm and topped with olive oil, chickpeas, spices, and herbs, it’s divine to dip pita bread or crunchy onion in. Abu Hassan was the best hummus I had in Tel Aviv, and I loved that it’s a small, family owned place that hasn’t lost its charm despite experiencing an influx of visitors.
Salads: No Israeli meal is complete without salads. My go-to combination when ordering: cucumber, tomato, parsley, bulgar wheat seasoned with olive oil (also known as tabbouleh).
Halva: Found across the Middle East and Northern Africa, Israeli halva is made of tahini and nut butters/sugar, plus other ingredients to add flavor variety. Generally, it’s sweet and has a crumbly texture. If you’re in Tel Aviv, try some at the Levinsky or Carmel markets.
Malabi: An old-fashioned dessert, I was excited to try malabi on my Carmel market tour. What is malabi? A milk pudding topped traditionally with rosewater syrup, coconut and peanuts. I had mine with a lemon and cardamon syrup and coconut shavings – sweet, but not overly saccharine. Easy to see why Israelis love this as a dessert treat- it’s great on hot days.
And, while not something to eat per se, sidewalk cafe culture is important in Israel- they’re everywhere. A few spots I loved to sip coffee and people watch: Yom Tov (near Carmel Market), Nahat Cafe (great for third wave coffee), Puaa (Jaffa Flea Market), and Basma Coffee (Jaffa). Not into coffee? Hit up any of the markets for fresh pomegranate or fruit juice, Levinsky 41 Cafe does excellent, fresh kombuca, and the lemonade at Shaffa Bar is the epitome of refreshing.
Have you ever been to Israel? What were your favorite eats?