Restaurants & Bars

Jerusalem dining

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Restaurants & Bars

Jerusalem dining

Deborah Pastor | Apr 30, 2006 03:05 PM

Restaurants in Jerusalem

East Jerusalem and the Old City
Armenian Tavern – Our family loved this place. The ambience is relaxed yet lovely; the food is good and the service is excellent. The basement restaurant has beautiful tilework and a selection of old jewelry, photos and memorabilia to look at. The yogurt salad is great and the basturma appetizer is fabulous (preserved beef slices). Try any specials, they are all good. The kebabs and the shislik are particularly good; the stuffed grapeleaf is one enormous grapeleaf, not like what I was used to but the chicken broth with it was delicious. We split it like an appetizer. The kids loved the fresh juices, including mango.

Abu-Shoukri has been an old city fixture for years – known as having the best hummus in the city. It is still fabulous. They now serve other things but stick with hummus and salad, it really is the best.

Then go to Suq Khan es Zeit street, almost all the way to the Damascus gate. You will see on the left a section of dessert places, pick one and treat yourself to a great dessert. Try something other than baklava – like canafi or some sweet heese “danishes” I don’t know what they are called but they are a bit expensive but very good. Jaffar’s is one – some are unnamed, but they are pretty much all lined up together.

Other things to eat in the old City – try the hot sahlab (a milk based herbal drink), the sesame bagels with spices for dipping, and the fresh fruit drinks and the fruit shakes.

Philadelphia is an old favorite and it did not disappoint. The mezzes platter has about ten different plates. The baba ganoush was the best we had in the city. We ordered the chicken broth, it was wonderful with a great amount of green herbs in it. The chicken mousakhan is highly recommended, perfectly spiced. We also enjoyed the St. Peters fish – perfectly fried. The kebabs and lamb chops were good standard fare. They did not have their stuffed vegetable medley when we were there, a shame as it is quite good. Next to Philadelphia is Pasha’s – a Lebanese place that I hear is very good.

Kan Zemman on Nablus Road – I think this place would be nicer in the summer because it is in a garden, which was covered over and heated when we ate there. I enjoyed a nice meal with kebabs, but I didn’t think it was outstanding. It did come highly recommended so maybe I came on a bad night.

Arabesque at the American Colony Hotel – I love the American Colony Hotel, the grounds and its interesting history. The restaurant, unfortunately, has strayed from its middle eastern roots. It serves basically high end European food for high prices. We went there when the kids were a bit sick of Middle East food and it was a good break for them, I’m not sure it was worth the price. I had the St. Peter’s fish in a delightful lemon sauce, really excellent – it was the best dish at the table.

West Jerusalem: Another possibility if you’re a bit sick of Middle Eastern is to go to Foccaccio in West Jerusalem. They serve Italian food that is pretty good for Israel and it is reasonably priced and kid-friendly. I was in the mood for a steak and it was also pretty good.

Shalom Falafel on Betzelam street is rumored to be the best in the city. It was definitely good enough for us. If you like spicy, as for it to be “harif”. The green Yemenite sauce called zchug is wonderful.

Mahane Yehuda – the main entrance on Agrippa street has a kebab place directly to the right, near the security checkpoint. This is a great place for people watching as you rest from buying lots of fun food in the shops. The kebabs are good – especially the chicken kebabs, and the hummus was surprisingly fresh and flavorful.

Or keep walking on Agrippa past Mehane Yehuda for a few blocks and on your right is Sima. (Ima was closed at the time – which is across the street from it) Sima is a typical great Jerusalem place, with a Yemenite or Iraqi feel, with plates of fresh salads arriving at your table the minute you sit down. The kubbah soup with the stuffed matza balls was great. The bean soup was just ok. If you are feeling adventurous, get the Jerusalem grill – with chicken, liver, and other offal – it sounds terrible but its really pretty good. The mujadderah (lentils and rice) is also great.

The YMCA is a good place during holidays when many other places are closed. Eating outside in the courtyard is very pleasant. The chicken schwarma has great spices but there is also non-Middle Eastern food for kids who need a break.

Hillel Café is a chain, I think, and serves big fresh salads with local cheeses and vegetables on top.

Atara is a Rehavia locals place – great breakfast that can be split by at least two people, get the eggs shakshouka – an Israeli version of huevos rancheros.

Ice cream or fruit shakes on the midrahov – great for people watching.

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