Katrina (born in Tallinn) of The Gastronomical Me blog (written in London) dropped me an e-mail few days ago. I quote:
I'm flying to Israel tomorrow, for a week, will stay in Tel Aviv and Jeruselem and the Deadsea. I know you went there during summer through that social group. I've read a bit on your site already but if you were to pick say 3 places that surprised you the most, perhaps the places you don't think people are likely to discover just by wondering around, what would you recommend?
1) Drinks and nibbles at the rooftop restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel. Wonderful views across the city during sunset, excellent modern Israeli food. We had nibbles there on the first night in town, just getting to know each other and our wonderful hosts Adi and Joanna (hi there!) and our packed itinerary.
(More Mamilla photos here)
2) A tour of the Mahane-Yehuda Market is a must - and I've actually managed to blog about that.
(More Mahane-Yehuda photos here)
I also think Katrina would enjoy a quick khatchapuri at the Georgian café Hatchapuria (5 HaShikma St, just outside the market). Here's their lovely Adjarian cheese khatchapuri with soft egg:
3) Hummus and falafels, mint tea, cardamom-spiced coffee, mutabbaq - all on Via Dolorosa. We popped into a hummusia somewhere between the seventh and eighth station. Excellent first hummus indeed! We then followed up the stairs and just on the right at the end of the last station, stopped for mutabbaq, the super sweet Arab filo pastry, mint tea and cardamom coffee.
Both photos by David Garb, one of the photographers on our tour
1) Haj Kahil is an Arab/Palestine restaurant in Jaffa, and the lunch we enjoyed there was probably one of the tastiest and most memorable during the trip full of really excellent food. The mezze table alone was ten points out of ten, a wonderful selection of fresh and delicious vegetable dishes.
Here's the waiter with the main course - just before our "argument" whether I should have a huge portion as I was eating for two (pregnant with bebe number three, remember :)) - his view; or whether I should only have a small portion of that beautiful 8-hour-lamb, as there was a good-sized baby taking up all that free space in my belly already - my idea:
David Lebovitz has written a beautiful post about that restaurant and I would definitely go back for a meal or two when in Israel again. This is my Number 1 recommendation for Israel!
2) Eyal Shani's The Salon only opens twice a week (Wednesday and Thursday), 8 Ma'avar Yabok, Nakhalat Yitzhak, Givataim, telephone 052-7035888. Apparently it's hard to secure a table and it's pretty pricey, and definitely not a place if you want a quiet place to enjoy a meal. But I trust Katrina would enjoy the rowdy and positively crazy atmosphere of the place. The food was delicious as well, of course :)
Eyal Shani in action.
3) A leisurely breakfast at Manta Ray at Alma Beach. The food was good, but I have especially fond memories of having breakfast at the relaxing seaside café - the vibe and the atmosphere were great.
Remember - there six recommendations are posted here with a specific food-loving girl in mind - might not be the same places I'd suggest to a retired couple or a young family with three small kids :)