Tel Aviv: Food & Drink

Dalida –  in Florentine part of Tel Aviv. Very local place with pretty good mediterranean food.  The margarita’s and specialty cocktails are quite good.  The cheese starter sounds a little off but it is very tasty and worth a try.
Cafe Puaa – –  in Jaffa – this is a very cool and local place in an alley on both sides.  It is half inside and half outside.  The furniture is very retro cool and chic.  Feels like you are in a very cool 2nd hand shop.  The food is very tasty and the service is quite good.
Abu Hasan – the best hole in the wall Hummus place in Jaffa.  It is an easy bike ride from Tel Aviv and well worth it.  Go first thing in the morning so you can get the hummus really, really fresh.  Mid morning the locals arrive and you can wait up to 30 minutes for one of their dozen or so tables.  The places has no real ambience just great food for breakfast or midday snack.
Santa Katarina – –  behind the Great Synagogue. This is a very simple and not overly fancy local place. The local contemporary, fresh, Mediterranean Israeli food with an Italian twist was very very good The fish was very fresh and the shrimp kabobs were one of the better dishes we had while traveling. The service could not have been better. If you want to eat more local and at a really good and reasonably priced place this spots for you.
Port Said – This is a local place with a pretty large outside patio with shared tables.  It is a first come first serve and it is usually pretty packed. A little nosier and lively than Santa Katarina.  Both have really good local food and very good service. It is  behind the Great Synagogue of TLV and 2 doors down from Santa Katarina.  Behind the Synagogue next to Port Said.  Very local place.  They serve contemporary fresh Israeli food with a Bulgarian twist. Nice interior space and a great bar to eat at if you do not want one of the tables both inside and out. This place is very lively and more about small plates and sharing. Kebabs, eggplant, beetroot salad and the beer are all things you must try. Servers were also very very friendly and efficient.
Shila – –   This was our best dining experience in Tel Aviv. The food was really great and the service was even better.  2 of us at the bar.  the best place to sit. The chefs put on quite a show for you and will answer all of your questions about prep. The fish and seafood were some of the freshest and tastiest in all of Israel. The desserts were incredible and they have a pretty good wine and cocktail list. If you are going to Tel Aviv this is one gem you won’t want to miss. Book early because it is hard to get into. It was also one of the most expensive meals we had but worth every penny.
North Abraxass – –  a nice little place with inside, outside, up stairs and bar seating. Inside downstairs however plays pretty loud music.  As long as it’s not 100 degrees ask for a seat outside.  Food is  served on a brown paper table cloth.  A little odd but it did not bug us.  The food was good but not incredible. Sour dough bread served with half of a raw onion in a bar with creme fresh was pretty good. The baked cauliflower was tender and good but lacked seasoning. The fish that we had was very fresh and tasty.  All things considered this is a good restaurant but not great and fairly expensive too.
Mashya –  – great food with a simple atmosphere.  An understated place with a fairly small dining room but pretty big bar for seating. Steamed egg yolk dish with potato and spinach was really good. The duck, fresh raw fish covered with black & white chips and the lamb neck were really really tasty. The wine and drink menu are quite good and reasonable. Service is very spotty.  Sometimes they are all over you and then other times it is hard to get anyone to help you.
Night Kitchen –  unique local place that is very popular and crowded.  Can seem more like a bar with food at times. The food is fresh and fairly inventive. They have an option called Dinner with friends where they bring out a tasting shared menu for you and your friends.  It is absolutely delicious and a ton of food.
Benedict – –  my favorite is on Rothschild blvd but this is a chain. Great little breakfast spot with pretty traditional breakfast food and it is open 24 hours.  It is right in the heart of the happening part of town.
Jaffe Flea Market – – great market in the old town Jaffa south of Tel Aviv.
Other places worth stopping for a drink or food near Jaffa Flea market include: Abulafia – pastries and local sweets, Malabia – a traditional sweet, Naknikia Shekazot – famous for hotdogs, Dr Shakshuka – local place with the local food of the same name. Usually for breakfast. Albi – is a fun greek bar. The Old Lady – Cute rustic indoor outdoor space with good pizza and beer.  Very low -key and local 
Sarona Market – Great fairly new indoor market serving mostly middle priced to high end food and drinks.
Some of my favorites in the market include:  Captain Curry, Meat Bar Burger, Arais – a meet lovers dream and Fishop.
Fishopחנויות-ודוכנים/fishop –  This is a great seafood and fish place in the Sarona market.  Pull a seat up to the bar an order some fresh fish.  We had the seafood platter which did not disappoint and some fish dish that they recommended that was equally as tasty. They have great beer on tap and a nice wine selection. The service is friendly and fast.  
Carmel – great market in the middle of the city with fresh produce and some very local and reasonably priced places to eat and drink. The 5 places below are some of my favorite.
Shmuel – great kebab counter place.  very casual.
Bar Ochel – gret little place to stop for beer and local israeli food.
M25 –  a great little meat place down one of the markets alleys.  Has indoor seating and seating in back of an open air patio. You can eat in or take out from their butcher.
Shaksuka -name is only in Hebrew and there is no english name. it is on Simat Hacarmel 41.  this is one of the best shaksuka places in town.  It is a little hard to find but well worth it.  It is 50 ft closer to the market in the same alley as M25.  It is open on two sides and looks like a square bar with mostly bar stool seating.  Try the Shaksuka because that is why you are here.  Plus the Souvlaki and Tzaziki are really tasty. (Pic at end on right side)
Oh Mama – – this place has a ton of prepared food for take away. It is fairly large and reasonably priced and good.  One location is in the                edge of the Carmel Market across from a good wine shop.
Cafe Amalia – simple salad and chicken cafe next to Carmel market
Nakash Juices – great little fresh juice place in the market.  Fresh and reasonable.
Al Hamayim for a drink and a snack beachside. 
La Mer – – Big beach restaurant with many tourists but the perfect place to stop on the beach for a fun cocktail and watch the people go by. The Hilton Hotel is a little further north and a great place to also eat on the beach and watch the people stroll by. Great place to ride a bike too. – – great for market info and also basic info about Tel Aviv.


Bars, Clubs and Treats                                                                                                                                                             

Imperial Cocktail Bar –  inside imperial hotel                                                                      Anita – best gelato in town.  It is on the famous Shabaz Street.  The perfect place for gelato. The street is also well known for it’s shopping, art galleries and eateries.  Anita also has a frozen Yogurt shop 100 yards away on the same street.            Cat and the dog  – dancing night club
Bell Boy Bar – Berdichevsky 14 – 1920’s style speak easy 
Botanika – high end Scandinavian Bar in high end beach hotel 
French 57 – Brenner 2 – New Orleans
Library Bar at the Norman Hotel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Golda – Ice Cream                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gazebbo – – This is an amazing beach bar but it is pretty young and clubby.                                                                                                                            Dizzi Frisdhon – Sundays are wine nights                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Prince Balcony Bar – great rooftop bar  (Bottom middle picture)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Shpagat – is local gay bar                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spice Bar  – Dizendorf 17 – cool bar with a cool set of many different glassware                                                                                                                                                      Poli Hotel Rooftop Bar – younger, hip fashionable crowd. Great view from the rooftop. Papua Cafe – An outside coffee & pastry shop in the heart of Tel Aviv. Sit on barrels and benches and enjoy some incredible java.                                                                                       24 Rothschild Speakeasy – great place to eat and listen to music.                                                                                                                       


Tel Aviv: Accommodations

The Norman – – 1920’s mansion – one of the best hotels in Israel.  rooftop pool and lounge. plus a nice spa. And great location. 
Alexander Tel Aviv – – beautiful modern hotel next to the beach in Tel Aviv.  they have a wonderful location and a beautiful rooftop restaurant. 
Poli House By Brown Hotels* –  Hip little hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv.  10 minute walk to the beach or grab a free bike at the hotel and ride to the beach. this has a cool Rooftop bar and pool.  the rooms are really small and fairly expensive.  this hotel is in a great location too. it is next to the Carmel (HaCarmel) Market. we did not lay at the pool with the hipsters. this is the place to be in Tel Aviv.  if you are 25 to 40.  see hotel pictures below. 
Hotel – a very small and beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of TLV.  really quaint with an award winning restaurant on site too. 
Ultra Hotel* – – 29 rooms hotel that is pretty trendy but basic.  great cocktail lounge.  1 Block from the beach. 
Vera Hotel – –   a really cool boutique hotel with only 39 rooms.  with a spa and sundeck on the roof.  mid priced too. 

Jaffa Market House – – a great little hotel on the heart of Jaffa. excellent breakfast and happy hour.  this is a more reasonable place vs The Setai. they are across the street from each other. 
The Setai Tel Aviv – One of the nicest Hotels in the heart of Jaffa.  next to the beach, great pool and really nice hotel.  
Shalom Hotel * – – a cool hotel near the beach.  great rooftop bar.  
Orchid Hotel* Tel Aviv – –  pretty big hotel with 200 rooms.  great services including: Spa, Business center, Pool and Gym. the hotel is at the beach too.  
The Brown Beach Boutique Hotel* – –  great hotel just one block from the beach.  the hotel has a small spa and a little bar plus a nice space for breakfast. the rooms are fairly large and clean but miss on little details like paint on light switches and missing grout in bathroom. overall the rooms were pretty clean.  rooms 308, 408 and 508 have balconies and views of the water. use a hotel bike to ride for miles up and down the coast.  great value. 
* join the hotels frequent guest program and receive a discount if you book direct. 

Jerusalem: Accommodations

Mamilla Hotel – – One of the best Luxury hotels in Jerusalem. very modern. great roof top deck for drinks.
Waldorf Astoria  is one of the newest luxury hotels and equally beautiful and pricey as the Mamilla but the Waldorf  is much more authentic.
American Colony  american owned hotel with great service and attention to detail. one of the few places with great outdoor pool.
The David Citadel one of the older classic hotels, nice roof top pool plus a spa and a gym. Perfect location.
Leonardo Boutique Hotel * – – a little more reasonable than the hotels listed above.  nice rooms.  no room service though. coffee and food one floor below reception.
Villa Brown Jerusalem* – – great location and more reasonably priced too.
Dan Boutique Hotel* –  Reasonably priced hotel that faces the old city wall.
*Join their frequent guest program for 5%  discount off of your room but you must book your room directly with hotel.  Better chance for an upgrade too.


Jerusalem: Resources, Tours and Tips

Tour Guide: Ori Unterman – or +972 52 338 4669 She is a great local guide that can take you to see old and new Jerusalem. The Machane Yehuda Market. 

Jerusalem Tour –   Tower of David Museum. Visit historical marvels and spiritual landmarks as King David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supperthe Church of the Holy SepulcherVia Delarosa, the Arab Market and the recently restored Roman Cardo.  Wander through the charming Armenian & Jewish quarters.  See the sacred Western Wall and then the Christian Quarter. End your day at the tasty and lively culinary gem The Machane Yehuda Market.  

National Holocaust Musem ( – you can visit this museum on your own.  Hire a guide when you get there or use audio head set.  This is easily a 3 hour plus tour. You can do it quicker but you will likely miss parts of it.  It’s big and beautiful and tragic and moving all at the same time. –  rides from the TLV airport. Trip usually costs approx $110. You can jump in a cab for cheaper.

Due to Shabbat Friday nights are really slow in Jerusalem and most of Israel.

Saturday Tours always have an extra fee if they run at all.

Jerusalem: Food & Drink

Jacko’s St – – good little local mediterranean place. pretty local.  If two of you the best seat in the house is at the bar.


Machneyuda – – 10 Beit Ya’akov | Located in the Lamahane Market 943231+972 2-533-3442 a great local place with mediterranean food in the Lamahane Market. Its really good but you need an advanced reservation. It can be really crowded in the market.


Ishtaback –א%D6%B4ישטָבָח-1381815998803237/ -m is another great place in the MY market.  This place serves Kurdish food.  They are known for their Shamburak which is a pastry filled with meat and potato’s baked in a large round oven.


Anna Italian – a great little Italian place in the middle of Jerusalem.  It is at the Ticho House Museum. They employ at risk youth in the kitchen. Nimrod Norman and the Mona restaurant group run the place. 


Arais Machane Yehuda – –   this is a very casual place across from the market.  Great for lunch without the market crowds. They serve fried pita type bread that you then fill with meat and tomatoes. This dish is called Arais. The place is very small with places to sit inside and out.  And right next store is a great little lemonade stand.  (top right pic above)


Machane Yehuda Market – – a great market in Jerusalem with so much to eat and drink during the day.  Then at night the alcohol and music come out and the market is more like one big club with many different stalls offering food and drink.  This place gets extremely crowded.  The market is spelled many different ways: Mahane, Machane and Machne 


Hachapuri – is near the Machane Yehuda Market – this is a Georgian place that serves really great Acharuli which is a version of the pastry dough that is filled with Georgian cheese, butter and a fried egg served with a tasty tomato sauce on the side.  Great for the morning with coffee or beer. (bottom left pic above)


Roasters in Machane Yehuda market – – this is a great little coffee place in the middle of the market.  They actually roast the coffee right next door to where you buy it. 


Knafe Ir Aviv – This is a little dessert stall in the middle of the Machane Yehuda Market.  It is right across from Roasters the coffee place. (bottom 2nd pic from the right)
Basher Fromagerie – A kosher cheese and wine shop in the middle of the market.  The cheese is very tasty and so is their wine but the place is a bit pricey.  Ask for a tasting of wine and cheese.  Very nice group of guys run the place.  Try the butter too. (2 people pics above)


Mirror Rooftop Bar at the Mamilla Hotel


Uzi Eli’s Juice – –  great little juice stand in middle of the Machane Market. Go for the fresh juice plus you can add many additional ingredients to it…one for stress, one for nutrition etc.  They have a juice combo for everything.  Or you can just have a plain juice with nothing added. 


The Gatsby Cocktail Room – – 18 HillelJerusalem 9458118  – great little 1920’s cocktail bar.  great atmosphere, great drinks and music. (bottom right pic above)  


HaTaklit (lit. the Record/Album) – – and its sister bar Cassette – – are a great nightlife location in the heart of Western Jerusalem. Hataklit is a mix between a bar and pub with an alternative, young feel. Choice to sit at a table or the bar inside or sit at one of the many tables outside.  The Cassette is pretty much just a small bar attached to the HaTaklit.



Masada & The Dead Sea

Masada and The Dead Sea Drive along the shores of the Dead Sea to Masada and learn about the heroic story of the Jewish fighters. Take the cable car up and tour the mountain fortress built by King Herod, where the Zealots made their last stand against the Romans. Visit the remains including: a palace, synagogue, water cisterns, mosaic floors, roman baths, walls  and other findings.  Descend by cable car or hike both ways.        

Now continue to the Dead Sea!  The lowest place on earth. Enjoy the unique opportunity to float in the Dead Sea. You will not believe how buoyant you are.  Then cover yourself with the mineral rich mud that many believe has therapeutic effects and wash it off in the water. Make sure to bring towels, sunscreen, water and flip flops. Do not shave anything the day you go for if you do the salty water will burn the shaved area.  


The Dead Sea



Petra & Wadi Rum, Jordan – Incredible!

Visiting Jordan from Israel: A trip to Petra Jordan is well worth it if you are in Israel and have a couple of extra days.  You can see Petra and Wadi Rum in a day but it will end up being one of the longest days ever.  Instead I would opt for at least one night in Petra.  Arrive early morning at one of 3 Jordan borders – the one near the Eilat Airport in Israel is the easiest place to cross.  You can get your Visa at the Border or have your Jordanian guide or tourist company arrange it ahead of time.  We knew a local Jordanian guide that handled all of our paperwork.  We booked an early morning flight online to Eilat on Akria airlines ($110 roundtrip fro Tel Aviv). Took a 10 minute Taxi to the border.  Walked across the boarder and our Jordanian guide was waiting for us with paperwork and car.  We went directly to Petra with a tourist souvenir stop on the way. 
We checked into Movenpick then headed to Petra which was just across the street.  After our 6 hour tour we hung out by the pool and had drinks on the Rooftop then dinner inside.  Then at 8pm we headed 1/2 way down Petra to see Petra by night.  The dark trail is lit by candles but you cannot see anything until you get to the main square.  The main square is lit up by 100’s of candles on the ground. They have a few speeches and solo musical performances then the main building is lit up with many different colors for about 2 minutes.  Get ready to photograph.  People are everywhere, so grab one of the mats sit and enjoy.  There are no concessions at night so bring water…and maybe a bottle of wine.  Once done head back to the Movenpick and get a goods night sleep.  Head over to Wadi Rum in the morning and spend 2 hours in an open bed truck riding and enjoying the landscape. Then head back to the border.  If hungry grab a quick meal at the border town before going back. Papaya was one of the better places to eat in town.  Very local and very friendly. The lamb and chicken skewers were amazing and cooked on a little grill right at your table.  The french fries were quite tasty too. 
Petra – This incredible Nabatean city was built around 2300 years ago. It is in the southern part of Jordan and worth a visit. It was made famous in the West after the filming of Indiana Jones. It is approximately a 4 km walk each way and well worth it. Food and drinks are available along the way.  Price for admission is approx $50 and includes a horse ride for 30% of the way.  You can hire a horse and buggy, plus solo horses and camels if you would rather not walk it.  Be careful the local Bedouins (nomadic locals) handle the transportation and they will push you not just for a tip but as much money as they can get from you.  Ours offered to have the horses take us right to our hotels cash machine.  They are camped out all over the site also trying to sell you local crafts.
Wadi Rum – a huge dessert valley in southern Jordan. It is a popular destination due to it’s rock climbing, hiking, outdoor adventures and a night filled with beautiful stars.  The mountains, rock and sand are a beautiful pink and salmon color.  The sand can get pretty hot in the summer so do not even try wearing flip-flops or sandals. If you also want to stay the night you have many choices of Bedouin camps.  They range from 4 Seasons like accommodations at the Memories Aicha Luxury Camp –  or mid – level at Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp – or very basic and as cheap as $25.  The more expensive camps have air conditioning in individual rooms.  The cheaper ones do not. If you like the most basic just make sure it is not going to be 90 plus degrees.  


Bethlehem, Banksy & The Banksy Hotel and Hebron Information

Below are pictures of Banksy’s hotel that he secretly built in Bethlehem. And yes it faces the wall 10 feet away. The rest of the pictures are of the interior of the hotel except for the Dove and Flower Thrower pictures that are actually painted on the wall.

You can actually stay in the hotel and walk through the museum inside that Banksy created about the conflict.  Seeing his hotel might have been better then seeing the girl with the balloon destroyed at auction.  The guy is a a creative genius. When I was asked recently, if granted a wish,  who was the one person that I would love to have dinner with, I can unequivocally say it would be Banksy.  Please go see and even stay in his brilliant hotel. And maybe track him down at a concert or two???

Walled Off small

Sulwis Suleiman –  +972 54 582 3612 – he tours all over Israel including: TLV, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, West Bank, Jordan etc.

Bethlehem Tour Guide – Issa (Abu David) Phone number – 0523730465

Al – Surfara Restaurant –مطعم-السفراء-Al-sufara-Restaurant-315722595985/ – this is a very local family owned hole in the wall with great shawarma and falafel. They make the falafel right in front of you on the street.  The salad and pita are also very very fresh.  This place is in front of the church 100 yards up the little shopping street near the fake starbucks.