Top 10 Things to Eat in Israel
If you are anything like me, food plays an important part in your vacation planning- and not necessarily for gluttonous reasons. Tasting local dishes is about so much more than happy taste buds. It is a valuable opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of your destination. Those who have visited Israel during one of our Israel tours, know that fabulous cuisine can be found around every corner. But for first timers who are planning a trip to Israel, we have compiled a list of the top 10 dishes that you must try before leaving the country. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
This is definitely a no brainer and probably doesn’t even need to be on the list. Of course you know to try hummus in Israel! But it is so delicious that I couldn’t resist paying the homage it deserves by putting it at the #1 spot. Many people have tasted hummus at one point or another in the United States, but trust me when I tell you that the versions we find in the states pales in comparison to what you will eat in Israel. This traditional spread made from chickpeas and tahini is a tasty addition to just about anything. It is fantastic on fresh, warm pita bread or dipped into with a fork full of falafel or kabab. Photo by: stu_spivack
Another famous Israeli dish that can be found on practically every street corner is the falafel. While it may be incredibly cheap, a falafel lunch is a meal fit for a king. These deep fried balls of chickpeas and spices are generally served with pita bread, hummus, and pickled vegetables. It is a great budget friendly option for a quick and filling meal. Photo by: zsoolt
Another quick and inexpensive lunch option is shawarma. Meat such as lamb, chicken, or beef is slowly grilled on a spit and then thin slices are shaved off and usually stuffed into a pita with vegetables and condiments in much the same way as falafel. Photo by: cyclonebill
This traditional Israeli breakfast food is a delightful skillet type dish consisting of poached eggs nestled in a slightly spicy sauce of tomato, chili peppers and onions. Those who enjoy the Mexican breakfast dish Huevos Rancheros, will most likely become fans of shakshouka as well. Photo by: Joe Zachs
Found mainly in Jerusalem’s Old City, this treat hardly resembles the bagels we know in the US. The oval shaped Jerusalem bagel is much less dense and about 3 times larger than its New York counterpart. Usually they are covered in sesame seeds and are served with a zesty blend of fresh herbs and seeds known as za’atar. Photo by: Alina Yavtushenko
Dairy plays a major role in Israeli cuisine. To keep kosher, meat is excluded from breakfast and dairy products provide most of the meal’s protein instead. If dining at an Israeli breakfast buffet, you will find a vast variety of cheese options. Lactose intolerant diners beware! Those who are able to eat dairy will quickly realize that the options are seemingly endless with a wide range of flavors and textures to choose form. Some of the most popular options are Israeli Cottage Cheese, a salted cheese known as zefatit, a rich yogurt-cream cheese type blend called gvina levana or “white cheese”, and feta.
St. Peters Fish
Better known to most of us as tilapia, St. Peters Fish can be found at restaurants throughout the Galilee region of Israel. While it is traditionally served whole and fried, those who are squeamish about their food staring back at them can order it fileted instead. Either way, the result is an incredibly fresh tasting mild fish that is served with a variety of outstanding salads and side dishes. Photo by: Lawrence Rice
Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice can be found every few feet in major cities throughout Israel. The juice creates a sweet, tangy beverage that is incredibly refreshing during a busy day of touring or shopping and is a nice pick me up for those who do not want coffee in the middle of the day. Photo by: Julien Menichini
These mouthwatering pastries are made of flaky dough stuffed with various savory fillings such as beef, cheese, potatoes, and assorted veggies. They are the perfect snack to fill you up while on the go. As someone who is not a morning person, I always had little time for breakfast so these made a perfect grab-and-go meal. Photo by: sea turtle
Versions of this sweet, crumbly candy can be found in many different parts of the world. The Israeli version contains simple ingredients such as tahini (sesame paste), sugar or honey, and nuts which makes it a healthier, protein filled dessert option. Photo by: Yaniv Yaakubovich
I encourage anyone planning a trip to Israel to sample each item on this list. Not only are they all a delight to the palate, they will bring you closer to the culture and people of Holy Land. My apologies if you are suddenly hungry!