Delicious Israel

Written by  Maxine Albert

Visitors from around the world have long journeyed to the holy land to visit its sacred sites. Now, a new breed of creative chefs has turned Israel into a gastronomic mecca for pilgrims in search of the ultimate cuisine. They are like rock stars, with TV shows, huge followings, book deals and packed eateries. Their world-class restaurants add chic appeal to the newly anointed temple of gastronomy.

This culinary craze has followers around the globe. Machneyuda, Israel’s hottest restaurant, boasts a London outpost, The Palomar, lauded as the city’s best. One of the latest top selling cookbooks is titled simply “Jerusalem.” Last November, Tel Aviv hosted ‘Round Tables’ where twenty-six prominent chefs came from New York, London, Barcelona, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam and Athens, to cook side by side with
Israeli masters.
Israel is a delicious destination with a wide range of culinary options now available for food loving travelers. These include gourmet food and wine tours, cooking lessons, wine inspired spas, guided walks through food and spice markets, dining in people’s homes and visiting organic farms. Travel consultants provide up to the minute lists of the hottest restaurants so visitors can relish savory delights in between taking in the sights.
The Israeli gastronomic explosion does not involve chicken soup, gefilte fish or knishes. Rather, Israeli, Arabic and a mash-up of ethnicities incorporate pungent herbs, spices and lots of fresh vegetables to create some of the most exciting food on the planet. When the French, Moroccans, Yemenites, Spanish, Ethiopians, Germans, Italians, Turks, Libyans, Bulgarians and Poles came to Israel, they brought their kitchens with them. Today’s pioneering chefs borrow from everywhere, using inventive combinations and sheer artistry. Flavors of labneh, silan, sumac and za’atar dance on your palate.

Israelis are by nature an innovative, passionate lot who love to eat and celebrate. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the acclaimed Machneyuda restaurant where chefs dazzle diners with truffled polenta with asparagus, mushrooms and parmesan, and shikshukit of lamb with tahini and yogurt. It’s not uncommon to find diners dancing on tables or in a conga line as the talented toques bang on pots and pans to the beat of the Middle Eastern soundtrack. Reserve well in advance. Close by is famed Machane Yehuda market where Jerusalem does its shopping.
Other noteworthy eateries include Angelica, and the Mamilla Hotel’s Rooftop restaurant, with panoramic views. The iconic King David Hotel serves a fabulous Israeli buffet breakfast, and its La Regence delivers fine dining farm-to-table cuisine.

Tel Aviv
This cosmopolitan city is ground zero for the country’s culinary revolution. The tasty delights of the Levinsky and Carmel Markets alone will make you an aficionado. Among the slew of extraordinary restaurants, here are some standouts.
Catit offers the ultimate in haute dining. Renowned chef Meir Adoni creates divine delicacies such as sea bass sashimi with Uzbek apricot curry cream and chick pea samosa. His other impressive eateries: Lumina, Mizlala and Blue Sky. Celebrity chef Eyal Shani, host of the TV show Master Chef Israel, helms a restaurant empire that includes the buzzy Ha Salon and casual gourmet pita eatery, Miznon. At his popular North Abraxas restaurant, guests savor tantalizing yummies like beetroot carpaccio, crab meat with coriander, and glazed lamb shwarma. At the just-opened and already busy Mashya, chef Yossi Shitrit whips up crowd pleasers such as Mafrum, a tasty Libyan mixture of ground beef and spices stuffed into cauliflower florets. Thanks to its star chefs, Israel is the promised land where all can eat, love, pray!

Where to Stay
In Jerusalem, the King David is a legendary grand hotel, frequented by world leaders and celebrities, and features a posh lobby, beautiful gardens and elegant suites with terraces offering glorious views of the old
Modern design meets old Jerusalem in the sophisticated Mamilla Hotel.
In Tel Aviv, many prefer large resorts like the Dan Tel Aviv and David InterContinental, but there is an increasing trend toward new boutique design-centric hotels.
The Norman is located in the art deco district. This swank property attracts an international and fashionable crowd. This boutique darling with snazzy suites features a rooftop pool, excellent eateries and cozy bar/lounges perfect for cocktails, chats and
Brown Beach House, a brand new, boutique hotel just a block from the water, offers 1950’s inspired design with whimsical flourishes. Colorful suites with a tropical ambiance feature vintage furnishings and private balconies with sea views.
Delicious Israel provides excellent guided tours of food markets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Israel specialist Pomegranate Travel arranges customized itineraries including food and wine tours and restaurant bookings. Visit

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