A Summary of the Best Cafes and Diners to Eat in on Shabbat in Jerusalem.
It is a myth that there are not great places open to eat on Saturday / Shabbat in Jerusalem, you just have to know where to find them. As well as more formal restaurants, there is also a good selection for those who want a cafe or diner in Jerusalem on Shabbat, The order of this list is based purely on my personal preference and is by no means all-inclusive but I would happy to hear your feedback. Here is my choice of cafes open on Shabbat in Jerusalem:
A cross between a diner and a brasserie, Zuni is probably Jerusalem’s only 24/7 restaurant with such a varied menu that there really is something for everyone. Great for family meals, drinks with friends or sitting alone at the bar. The menu includes traditional dishes like schnitzel, burgers and various sandwiches and salads but my favorite dishes are the Mac n Cheese and the Croque Madame with mushrooms (melted Emmental cheese sandwich, topped with fried eggs and parmesan). It is a fun option during the day and at night and Zuni delivers but orders are by phone only, full English menu on the website.
Zuni, 15 Yo’el Moshe Salomon Street, 02 625 7776
As with many places in Jerusalem, the hype is normally better than the reality. The concept of an American diner in the center of Jerusalem is a good one and although it is nicely decorated, for me the restaurant lacks much atmosphere. It is neither a diner or a bar. The menu has a bit of everything and the quality of the food is good but nothing wowed me and all the dishes seem to lack something, so they are not fully authentic. If you are craving a Reuben or Philly Steak Sandwich, Mac & Cheese balls or southern fried chicken then give it a try. They also serve good coffee and the service is friendly and pretty attentive.
R&R Diner, 33 Yafo Street, 02 625 3435
Although Menza is popular in the evening, I personally prefer the daytime menu including classic dishes like Eggs Benedict for breakfast and Milanesa Veal Schnitzel and Corned Beef Sandwich for lunch.
The bistro-style menu offers a pleasant balance of Mediterranean-inspired and continental crowd-pleasers executed at a gourmet level and creative concoctions that you’d expect at a high-end chef restaurant, as well as original and classic cocktails and wines for every budget.
Menza, 10 Bezalel Street, 02 625 5222
Somewhat of an institution among locals and tourists alike, Focaccia Bar is normally busy both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The restaurant has an interesting layout with a large covered courtyard. The menu is varied with a number of traditional European and American dishes, as well as various middle-eastern options.
Bolinat differs from many of the other places on this list as you will hear mostly Hebrew being spoken. I suspect that tourists and ex-pats don’t know about it so I hope I am not exposing a local secret!
This wonderful pavement café is busy throughout the week, but especially at the weekend and is open 24/7. The young Israeli staff is friendly and helpful and the bar menu has a surprisingly great choice of snacks and main dishes.
Bolinat, 6 Dorot Rishonim Street, 02 624 9733
During the week this tiny café is filled with students from the nearby Bezalel art school and at the weekend it is a popular café for locals to while away the day. The limited menu offers traditional Israel breakfast and shakshuka, as well as more unusual breakfast option like a croissant filled with Gouda and Croque Madame (served with smoked goose instead of bacon). The coffee is also really nice and strong!
Cafe Bezalel, 8 Bezalel Street, 02 625 9164
If you are looking for a change of scenery on Shabbat, then Ein Kerem is the perfect option. Be warned that all the places are very busy at the weekend so either book in advance or be prepared to wait. Parking is also limited and parking fines are issued on Shabbat in Ein Kerem. There are a number of places to choose from but Karma always seems to be the most consistent both day and night. The menu is incredibly diverse and the castle-like building has a great terrace with a view over the scenic village.
Karma, 74 Ein Kerem Street, 02 643 6643
LANDWER CAFE, FIRST STATION
Although it is a chain, the food at Landwer Cafe is slightly better than most of the chains and the First Station branch is also a convenient option on Shabbat. The service is normally good and they are also incredibly child-friendly. As well as several menu options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they also have a good salad and snack menu, which is perfect if you want to get out the house, but don’t want a heavy meal.
Landwer Cafe – 4 David Remez, First Station, 02 587 7988
Primitivo is a Mediterranean-themed bar, cafe and restaurant, from the same owners as Menza.
Primitivo – 37 King George Street, 02 941 9190
P2 is an Italian cafe serving pizza and pasta, with the option for gluten-free dough and vegan cheese. More details can be found in the P2 English delivery menu and they also offer a DIY pizza kit, which includes three portions of dough and several toppings, allowing people to make fresh pizza at home without having to make the dough themselves.
P2 – 36 Keren Hayesod, 02 563 5555
Here are some additional places:
- Cafe Sira in the city center is always busy on Shabbat. Full Cafe Sira English menu.
- Gelato Variegato is an ice cream store on Azza in Jerusalem by the owners of Talbiye and Flora. Creative flavors include lemon tart, beetroot & sumac and yogurt & zaatar ice cream, and carrot & ginger sorbet. Open Friday until 7 pm and Shabbat from 8 am to 11 pm.
- Patisserie Abu Seir is a small bakery inside the New Gate in the Old City. Ibrahim Abu Seir is originally from Syria and has worked as a pastry chef for a number of years before opening his own shop.
- Wine Bar is a local wine bar in Rehavia, from the owners of the Machne group, which is very popular on Friday night. The bar food menu includes a selection of bruschetta, club sandwiches, a cheese platter, a cold meat platter and various nibbles. Most of the wines are available by glass or by the bottle. The food is nice for a local wine bar but is not as creative as the rest of the Machne group.
There are lots of other places all over the city including many in the Old City and East Jerusalem eg Austrian Hospice, Borderline & Pasha. Perhaps that will be a future post!
Here are some other posts about where to eat in Jerusalem on Shabbat:
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