Whether you’re looking for some of the best vegan food in the world, or you spend nights dreaming of perfect flavours blending seamlessly, Israel is a food destination you shouldn’t miss. Jewish staples are met with a Middle-Eastern flair – over three thousand years of diverse history, Israeli food has been influenced by Asian, African, and European dishes and cooking styles to create a final product that is as unique as it is delicious.
This story was created in partnership with: Israel Ministry of Tourism
If you’re planning a trip to Israel, you’re in luck: the country’s food offerings are some of the best around, and there’s so much variety that even the pickiest of picky eaters are sure to find something they love. From home-cooked favourites to bold, experimental fusion and everything in between, get ready for your ultimate guide to finding the best food in Israel.
Israeli food culture
Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Israeli food has been growing and evolving into its modern-day form. However, the region enjoys thousands of years of history and culture that feeds into the cuisine. Early Israeli food was influenced by what was known as the seven spices: olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, wheat, barley, and grapes. These foods were readily available and grown locally, and thus informed much of Israel’s traditional cuisine – and you’ll still find these influences during your modern-day visit. There has even been a recent trend towards going back to those crucial seven spices in modern Israeli cooking, meaning travellers with an eye for sustainable, delicious food can find their new favourite dish here.
In the earlier days of the modern State of Israel, Jewish immigrants from around the world worked to put their stamp on Israel’s food scene. From central European schnitzel to Russian borsht, this new melting pot of cuisines turned into something special – today, travellers will find influences from around the world coming together in unique – and seriously tasty – ways.
If you’re trying to eat healthy even while on vacation, Israel may be your dream destination. Many Israeli restaurants make a point to serve healthy, local produce that still tastes unbelievably delicious. Think light, healthy cooking with fresh fruit that won’t leave you feeling bogged down by the time you head out for your surfing excursion!
Israel is quickly gaining a reputation as a high-end food destination, too. Young chefs are flocking to the area and taking full advantage of the state’s unique place in the world to combine flavours you may not find anywhere else. Travellers will be able to enjoy traditional fine dining experiences – white linen tablecloths with sprawling views of the sea – as well as bold new fusion food. Enjoy new interpretations of traditional Middle Eastern and East Asian foods and cooking styles at some of the best restaurants in the region.
Famous Israeli dishes
It’s the most important meal of the day, after all! If you’re planning a long day of exploring Israel’s cultural and historical sites, or if you’re looking for something to fuel you through long hikes and active adventures, you’ll need to get off to a good start. An Israeli breakfast means the fresh, local ingredients in an Israeli salad paired with fresh bread, juice, and whatever else you can dream of! Eggs and potatoes? Hummus and pitas? A second helping of that delicious Israeli salad? The choice is yours.
Speaking of, what exactly is Israeli salad? Known as one of Israel’s best-known and most-loved dishes, this versatile food can be eaten alone or as an accompaniment to just about any meal. Consisting of finely diced tomatoes, onions, cucumber, and bell pepper, the dish can also me made spicy by replacing the pepper with hot chillis. If there’s one thing you eat in Israel in search of an authentic experience, make it this! The crisp, fresh flavours are delicious and satisfying, and travellers are often surprised at how well an Israeli salad fuels them for the day ahead!
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This versatile dish feels like a taste of home and a taste of luxury all at once. Traditionally prepared with eggs poached in a rich tomato, chilli pepper and garlic stew, there are many variations on this classic, from vegan-friendly tofu options to meatier stews. In Israel, specifically, the dish is most often made with poached or scrambled eggs, and it’s the perfect way to wind down after an active day or get ready for a big hike or active adventure! You won’t have a hard time finding delicious shakshuka in Israel, so make sure you add it to your must-try list before you head out!
You’re on vacation – why not eat dessert first? If you’re in the market for traditional Jewish desserts such as kugel and rugelach, you’re sure to find it in bakeries all over Israel – with a twist. Jerusalem kugel, Israel’s answer to the traditional noodle dessert, is made with caramelized sugar and spiced with black pepper. It’s one of those dishes that you have to try to believe it’s as good as everyone says it is!
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Israel’s proximity to and historical connection with Europe, Asia, and Africa mean you’ll find the traditions of many cultures here, and that extends to the desserts. Try bourekas, savoury pastries from Turkey, or Linzer torte, an import from Vienna, all prepared with a local twist.
Is it really a trip to Israel if you don’t try some falafel? These deep-fried balls or patties are made from ground chickpeas flavoured with herbs and spices, and it’s the perfect grab-and-go street food in Israel! Try it as a high-protein snack to power your adventures, or indulge in a more upscale dining experience and sample the many ways chefs across Israel aim to make their mark on this iconic dish.
The best part of Israeli food is the fact that the cuisine takes on so many forms – whether you’re looking for a kebab, Jewish classics, or fusion food in upscale settings, you can find it here. There’s so much to see and do in Israel that you’re sure to work up an appetite, so it’s a good thing that there are so many options! Late-night street food stalls? Check. Fine dining experiences? Double-check!
Food is one of the best ways to experience a country – you’ll always find a destination’s history and culture boiled down (sometimes literally!) in their food, which means that if you’re ever overwhelmed with all of your options for adventure in Israel, start with a visit to a food stall.