Whether you are a tourist or local looking for good restaurants in Jerusalem, there are some wonderful options for those who are not limited to kosher food and can explore the non-kosher culinary scene.
In my opinion, Machneyuda is one of the best restaurants in Israel for someone looking for an interesting Israeli culinary experience. The menu, which combines high-end dining with homestyle cooking, changes daily but the style, ambiance and essence stay the same. The polenta with mushrooms, asparagus, Parmesan and truffle oil is probably the restaurant’s most iconic dish and one that makes me want to go back every time. The jungle dessert is also a fun experience if you are dining with a group.
If you are looking for a quiet meal, this is not the place for you; but if you want mouth-watering, inventive food with attentive service and authentic Israeli hospitality, Machneyuda is the ideal setting.
- HaSadna – The Culinary Workshop
HaSadna is the less known sister restaurant of Machneyuda, with a kitchen that specializes in aged meats and there are also plenty of fish and vegetarian options on the menu for non-meat eaters. Like all restaurants in the Machneyuda group, there is a signature polenta dish and other similarities to its older sister, but the menu holds its own and the restaurant has a completely different ambiance to the others in the group. Sitting at the large U-shaped bar with a view of the kitchen is always my preference, but there are plenty of stand-alone tables for larger groups or those wanting an intimate meal. The restaurant has a varied cocktail menu that compliments the food and the bar staff is always happy to create bespoke cocktails on request. For fellow Gin & Tonic lovers, they have an impressive selection of gins from all over the world and the right tonics and other elements to accompany them.
HaSadna, 28 Derech Hebron, 02 567 2265
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אחרי חודש של רקיחות, רתיחות, ערבובים ושירבובים, אחרי 2 לילות של שינה על הבר ובוקר של לשטוף פנים בצ׳יפסר. השף העולה אליאור וביחד עם אלו שכבר למעלה – שף נבון, שף גרניט ושף אליעזר גאים להציג סדנא – התפריט החדש בקרוב בסדנא הקרובה לביתכם עם סנונית ראשונה בדמות הקרפצ׳יו מוסר שרצה להיות מדוזה.
Mona is located in The Jerusalem Artist’s House, a historic building that was built as the original Bezalel Art School and now serves as an art gallery. The charming setting adds to the appeal of this restaurant. The menu changes daily, but some popular dishes remain on the menu most of the time, with seasonal tweaks. Some of these popular dishes include Beef Tartare, Tuna Sashimi, Hanger Steak, and Chocolate Cremeux. The combination of the beautiful surroundings, attentive service, quality raw ingredients, and creative dishes make Mona popular with both locals and visitors alike.
- Yudale Bar
Yudale Bar is the tapas bar opposite Machneyuda, with a smaller version of the menu and a fun bar vibe. The action overflows onto the street on the warmer months and even on some busier colder nights. They also serve a polenta dish that is similar to the one at Machneyuda and it is normally easier to get a booking.
Yudale Bar, 11 Beit Yaakov Street, 02 533 3442, closed on Shabbat
Dekel is the newest addition to the Machneyuda Group, led by Chef Asaf Serri, former Chef of Yudale, and Chef Oren Asido, winner of Game of Chefs Season Three. The intimate restaurant bar is located around the corner from the main restaurant. Dekel’s interior design includes lighting and other design elements from Tom Dixon, the group’s partner in their newest London restaurant, Coal Office (I highly recommend a visit). Although the menu is small, all the food is delicious and it has a much more chilled vibe than Machneyuda and Yudale, allowing for easy conversations with your fellow diners. The bar is well stocked with a small but interesting cocktail menu.
Dekel, 3 HaDekel Street, 02 647 0127, closed on Shabbat
- Notre Dame Rooftop
Set on the rooftop of the Notre Dame pilgrim guesthouse, the restaurant offers spectacular views of the entire eastern side of the Old City. Although once just a cheese and wine bar, the menu includes traditional European meat and fish dishes as well, however, the cheese dishes are still the specialty. There are over 40 imported cheeses to choose from for the Cheese Platters ($28-35) and the Cheese Fondue ($44) is a rich and indulgent treat. They have an impressive international wine list and normally have very good service. The prices are all in US dollars and on the higher side but the view makes it worth it.
Notre Dame Rooftop Restaurant, 3 HaTsanhanim Street, 02 627 9177
One of Jerusalem’s most established restaurants, Chakra is popular with both locals and tourist alike. Early evening, the European style restaurant is busy with families and later it becomes livelier with many people sitting around the bar area. In the summer, there is plenty of outdoor seating, overlooking Jerusalem’s Independence Park. Signature starters include Spicy Tuna Bruschetta, Lemon Garlic Cauliflower and Beef Carpaccio. Recommended mains are Salmon Fillet with Bok Choy, Steak & Fries and Beef Fillet with Marrow and Onion Confit.
Chakra, 41 King George Street, 072 328 1683
Adom has been a popular venue since the original location opened in 2001. The menu is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern, but the food is well cooked and there is always a good atmosphere. The menu changes seasonally but some house specialties remain, like Artichoke & Beets Salad, Chestnut Gnocchi in Porcini Butter and Seafood Risotto. The Tahini Ice Cream is a must try dessert, as well as the Pavlova.
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ככה נראה יום חמישי! ♥️ בראוני שמן זית, שטרויזל שקדים וקקאו, קרמו שוקולד מריר, גנאש שוקולד לבן וג׳לי שמן זית 😍 מה עשינו שמגיע לנו כל הטוב הזה… לא ברור. ***מחכים לכם*** By @danull So this is how weekend look like♥️ Olive oil brownie, almonds crumble, dark chocolate cremo, White chocolate ganache and olive oil jelly…. what we’ve done to deserve all of this? It’s unclear. #picoftheday #Dessert #Cuisine #love #chocolate #instagood #foodporn #instafood #chefs
- Dolphin Yam
There is something to be said for a restaurant that has been around for 50 years and survived the difficult periods that caused many places to close. Dolphin Yam is located on a quiet pedestrian street, close to Jerusalem’s city center and was the first restaurant to open in West Jerusalem after the war in 1967. The menu is typical of most Mediterranean fish restaurants, with a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood dishes, as well as some meat and pasta dishes. They also offer a takeaway and delivery service.
Dolphin Yam, 9 Shimon Ben Shetach, 02 623 2272
Ein Kerem is full of bars and restaurants and my favorite is Karma for both the food and the setting. The restaurant overlooks the quaint village of Ein Kerem and has a varied bistro-style menu, including salads, pasta, burgers, sandwiches, steak and seafood. It is a great choice for both day and night but be careful if you are driving there, as parking restrictions do apply at the weekend.
Karma,74 Ein Kerem, 02 643 6643
Other options include:
- Talbiye, another restaurant in the Machneyuda Group, the food is good but the service is often unfriendly which has ruined the experience for me.
- Pergamon Restaurant is a small vegetarian restaurant and bar that serves a selection of Mediterranean tapas dishes and a variety of cocktails.
- Jacko’s Street is my favorite restaurant in Israel and even though it is kosher, I have included it here. It is my go-to place for taking out-of-town guests and those who don’t eat kosher are always impressed by the creativity of the menu and energetic atmosphere in the restaurant – it epitomizes the expression “fun-dining”.
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