11 Foods You Must Try When Visiting Israel

Jun 24, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Travelers visiting Israel for the first time will discover a nation of incredible, diverse flavors.

A mix of Jewish diaspora cooking combined with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences, Israeli cuisine is flavorful, fresh and healthy. Whether you’re into no-frills street food and market fare; elaborate multicourse gourmet meals; or if you possess a major sweet tooth, Israel has something for you — even if you’re vegan, and especially if you’re kosher. While we recommend eating as much as possible, make sure to try these 11 things when visiting Israel. And come hungry!

Hummus

Well-known all over the world, this dip is made from mashed chickpeas combined with olive oil, tahini, perhaps a squirt of lemon juice and sometimes a dash of paprika. Eaten as a meal with pita bread, Israeli salad and falafel, the dish is famous in Israeli — your toughest decision will be where to get it, as it’s served in most Israeli restaurants. Particularly popular is masabacha hummus that has a different texture as the chickpeas are left whole. Check out Abu Hassan in Jaffa for some of the best hummus in Tel Aviv. The atmosphere is casual, with waiters shouting and rushing around, but it may be the best hummus you ever eat.

Falafel

Chickpeas are a favorite in Israel. Falafel is a fried ball typically made of mashed up chickpeas and fragrant herbs. Often eaten in a pita layered with hummus and other sauces and vegetables, falafel isn’t something you need to spend a lot of money on. In fact, some of the best falafel can be found on the street, like at the market in the town of Acre (also known as Akko). For a restaurant experience, sample it at Afteem in Bethlehem.

Shakshuka

Israeli breakfasts are pretty much always incredible — but what really stands out is the savory baked egg-and-tomato dish, shakshuka. Often served directly in a cast iron skillet, shakshuka is warm, hearty and delicious. Get it at Cafe Kadosh in Jerusalem, where you can enjoy your dish outside on a sunny day.

Tahini

Tahini is a simple sauce made from sesame paste, lemon juice, olive oil and other herbs and spices. It’s typically used as a dipping sauce, a topping for pita bread, as part of an Israeli breakfast or alongside hummus and falafel. Get it almost anywhere, and eat it with almost anything.

Israeli Wine

Although winemaking in many regions of Israel dates back to biblical times, local wines only recently made a splash on the international scene. While some varieties are kosher, others are not, and you can find both in the five main wine regions around the country: Shomron, Shimshon/Samson, Judean Hills, Negev and Galilee. Visitors can sample wine at over 300 Israeli wineries, or sip glasses at intimate wine bars in Tel Aviv, such as Elkalai.

Druze Cuisine

Israeli Druze are an ethnic minority and religious group living mainly in the north of the country. Druze cuisine is a mix of Israeli, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare, and the recipes often mix together sweet and savory flavors. Some of the best dishes to sample are siniya with tahini (ground meat mixed with cardamom and rice), and the Druze version of maqluba — a savory dish of meat, vegetables and rice cooked in a pot and then flipped upside down. Look for restaurants in the north of Israel near Golan Heights to sample this type of food. Some locals will even invite tourists into their homes for a special experience of sampling home-cooked Druze delights.

Sabich

On the go? Grab a sabich — a warm pita sandwich overflowing with hard-boiled eggs, roasted eggplant, tahini, spices and more. Sabich Frishman in Tel Aviv is the place to go for this flavorful street food. Just be warned, you may have to wait in line during peak hours for your order.

Sabich, a popular israel street food consisting of Eggplant, potato, egg and tehina. April 12, 2011. Photo by Nicky Kelvin/Flash 90. = *** Local Caption *** ñáéç ôéúä àåëì úì àáéá

Malabi

This milk pudding is made with rose water,  and the sweet treat is served for both dessert as well as breakfast. Recipes vary, but some of the best varieties have a light dusting of pine nuts or pistachios on top. Get it at the Shuk Hapishpeshim, the famous flea market in the Jaffa neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

Knafeh

Contemporary chefs around Israel are reimagining gourmet takes on this famous pastry, but the best way to sample it is the original way: with cheese baked in a special noodle, vermicelli-like pastry dough soaked in a sugary syrup. Snack on this at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Halva

Tahini sauce makes a sweet reappearance in the classic dessert, halva. Blended with nut butter and sugar, halva is a crumbly, dense treat perfect for snacking. Try this, too, at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. It’s also served at the breakfast buffet at the Waldorf Astoria if you want to start your day off sweet. (Very, very sweet.)

Seafood

Much of Israel is along the sea (or at least close to it), meaning you can enjoy fresh, delicious seafood in many parts of the country year-round. One of the best places to get it is at the Uri Buri Restaurant in Acre (Akko). Famous chef Uri Buri uses only the freshest and highest quality ingredients in his dishes, which range from scallops in cream to raw shrimp and St. Peter’s fish with beetroot.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.