Monday, October 08, 2007

Restaurant Meme

26 of the Seventh Month 5768

OK. So, I wasn't exactly "tagged" for this meme. In fact, I wasn't "tagged" at all.

I stole it.

I know, I know. You're all thinking:

"Ya'aqov, really! If you have time to sit around, surf the Internet, and actually push your way into silly and annoying, little blogger games, then you REALLY need to get a life!"

But, I couldn't help myself. I had to put my 10 Ag. worth into this crucial question of the Top 5 Five Restaurants in my area. It originally read:

Add a direct link to the post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include city/state and country that you're in.

Stolen from
"Jacob DaJew"


K'far Tapu'ah, Shomron, Israel

List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

I'm going to stick with Jacob's lead on this, and list " top five favorite places to get food from, not necessarily restaurants." I don't think I going to stick with just five, either. Oh, and, I'm not going to limit myself to one tiny location which is closer to Jordan than the Mediterranean Sea, either. Although most of my entries come from Jerusalem. Oh, yeah, and I'm going to categorize the entries. Hey, I stole it, right? I can play this however I want.

I am not going to tag anyone either. If you are interested in participating by listing your own favorites, and/or debating mine, make sure to leave a comment and link on this post. And, of course, in the self-promotional spirit of the Blogosphere, please DO link back to this post. (wink, grin) So far, only Batya has taken up the challenge.

1. Pizza
Let's face it. There's just no such thing as "good pizza in Israel." It's all about the crust. [Native-born] Israelis just don't seem to know how make good pizza crust, unless it's by accident. I heard a rumor that one place actually DID make good crust, but since "Israelis" didn't like it, he had to stop making it.

Anyway, the least worst pizza in Israel comes from Big Apple Pizza (Jerusalem Rabbanut - Mehadrin) in the Center of town, Jerusalem, and Pizza Shai in Beis Yisroel (Eidah Haredis).

Sure, people rave about Dr. Pizza (Rav Rubin), Bar Ilan Pizza (Eidah Haredis) and Pepperolli's (Eidah Haredis). I've had them all, and they are all OK. But, my votes for the above stand.

In all fairness, people used to rave about Pizza Larry, near Har Nof, which I've never tried. But, I believe it has moved.

2. Shawarmah
BY FAR, THE best shawarmah I've had in Israel has been from HaShawarmah (Rav Rubin) in the Shmu'el HaNavi neighborhood,...sort of. It's actually up on Golda Meir St., on the left before the Angels bakery. Both the turkey and the beef are good. I'm afraid I forgot if they have mutton, but if they do, then that's good, too. Their secret (not anymore) is that they don't over roast it. They then finish the cooking on the grill, according to order. It comes out very juicy this way.

Also worth mentioning is Hallo Teman (Rav Mahpud) which branches at the entrance to Jerusalem and at Coca-Cola Junction in B'nei Braq. In the spirit of "at your location," I will mention Baba Grill Bar in Ariel (Ariel Rabbinut, all mehadrin ingredients)

3. Yemenite
The best Yemenite restaurant could be found on the ground floor of the Tel-Aviv Central Bus Station. Don't laugh! If you look hard enough, you too, can find a treasure or two in this underrated bastion bargains. Unfortunately, the restaurant called HaTemani disappeared a couple of years ago. I may has found it again on Rothschild St. It has the same name, but I'll have to check if it is the same place.

An old standard for reasonably-priced, good Yemenite food is, of course, HaMervad HaQsamim (The Magic Carpet) on King George St. in Jerusalem.

4. Ashkinazi
OK. So, to be fair, I had better list the best traditional Ashkinazi food available. That would be Moshe Leiberbaum's (Eidah Haredis) on Shtrauss on the way to Kikar Shabbos in Jerusalem. I cannot recall this restaurant's real name. Everyone just calls it by the owner's name. All your favorites can be found here: Roast chicken, stuffed peppers, potato kugel, and [not necessarily] Ashkinazi salads. Try Moshe's chopped liver! This is a great place to go for Shabbos take out, when you're in a pinch, or even if you're not.

5. Bakeries
There are a lot of great bakeries in Israel. For mizrahi style, your best bet is in the HaTiqwah Neighborhood in Tel-Aviv. HaMervad HaQsamim (above) also makes their own saluf bread.

The best health/organic bakery is probably The Natural Choice (Belz) near Shuq Mahaneh Yehudah in Jerusalem.

The best "I can't believe they're not milkhig," gooey, chocolate, chocolate chip cookie in Israel is only one of the treats you will find at Habah (Agudas Yisroel), in Mahaneh Yehudah on Yaffo St. Both their separated, parve and dairy bakeries are worth a taste.

For the best "I can't believe they're not milkhig," fancy-shmancy items, go to the Belgian Bakery on KKL in the Sha'arei Hesed neighborhood of Jerusalem. Sorry to be stereotypical, but the Belgians really DO know their chocolate!

6. Fallafel
Last, but definitely not least, everyone always wants to know where the best Fallafel is in all of Israel. I have actually heard many claim that the best fallafel in Israel can be found in Qiriyath Shmemonah on the Lebanese border. I was only there once, and did not have fallafel, so I cannot say myself. What I have heard is that "green fallafel" is found more often in the north and in Lebanon, than down here in the center of the country, the are with which I am most familiar. "Green Fallafel," obtaining its green color and distinctive flavor from the extra parsley and coriander leaf (cilantro in Spanish and in the SW USA), is my favorite. The best green fallafel I have found is at Arba Ta'amim (Four Flavors) in B'nei Braq (Nahalath Yitzhaq* & B'nei Braq Rabbanut), with additional branches in Tel-Aviv. The other three flavors available are spicy, sesame seed, and regular.

Although I have eaten a great deal of fallafel in my life, I still do not consider my a conosuer. Fallafel King (Jerusalem Rabbanut - Mehadrin) on King George St. in Jerusalem, with its all-you-can-eat salads is not bad. But, I do look forward to YOUR recommendations!

Not mentioned here are the best ice cream in Israel, the best seafood in Israel, etc. Please let me know. The best coffee house in Israel probably deserves its own post. I'm always interested in new places in Israel to try.

Don't forget to leave your opinions in the comments to this post, and a link to your posts if possible.

Bon Appetit!

*I must note that many are concerned with the validity of the Nahalath Yitzhaq Kashruth certification. I will simply state here that one may want to investigate establishments on a case by case basis. The certification is legitimate, but the manner in which the certification was procured may not be.


yitz said...

s name is Shloima Loberbaum and I think it is called maadanei Geula

Esser Agaroth said...

B"H Thanks for the information, Yitz. I'll have to check this out.

Ezra said...

Best Pizza: Tekoa, small purple structure in the park near the center of town. I haven't seen it open lately, but seriously, it is better than any American pizza I have had. They braid spices into the crust and its really excellent. Maybe some native can tell us when its open or if they will deliver to western Gush. The one in Efrat's Rimon neighborhood is also quite good.

Falafel: Yemenite Falafel on HaNeviim Street, obviously.

Shawarma: Mana v'hetzi on the continuation of emek (forgot the name - possibly a rabbi who rabbi akiva felt he had to metaken his misdeeds).

Yemenite: "Mamme's", just before the kenyon on your left while driving north through Jordan Valley past Beit She'an.

Cafe: Gavna, Old Massuot Yitzchak, Avoda Ivrit

Ashki-ish: La Guta

British tea shop: Chez Gita, near Kikar Zion

Sushi: YokoUno, now in Ramat Gan, opening soon on Emek Refaim.

Sorry I don't have the exact hashgachot for each place on hand. All are certified kosher by various agencies.

mother in israel said...

Thanks for emailing me, but we rarely eat or order out so I can't be much help. Sounds yummy though--good luck with this project!

Esser Agaroth said...

Thanks, Ezra and MII. I'll have to check out Mana ve'Hetzi again. It's going to be hard to top HaShawarmah, my only listing I'm pretty stubborn about. I'll also have to check out the bet cafe. I'm always in search of a good cup of coffee with good atmosphere.

Jacob Da Jew said...

Nice! Great job.

When my parents made Aliyah back in '93, one of my earliest memories was stopping by Melech HaFalafel on King

Back then Mana was way cheaper, maybe 2-3 shekel.

Big Apple Pizza is pretty good, was just there in April.

Feel free to "steal" more stuff..But I don't think you can call it stealing if you give "hat-tip" or credit.

Jacob Da Jew said...

I added your post to the list of "tagged people" in the post as some bloggers did not complete the meme.

Rafi G. said...

ezra - yemenite falafel really was the best. unfortunately it was blown up a number of years ago in a terrorist attack. They closed down shortly after that (I think they renovated and reopened after the attack then closed a while later)..

I don't eat out much. Very rarely actually. However I am a steak kind of guy and therefore always had an affinity for a place like Norman's on Emek Refaim..

Batya said...

Here's my version!

Esser Agaroth said...

JDJ, Darn! I thought I was being mischievous. But, now you're the one stealing! A "retroactive tag?" Is that mutar? ;-) Thanks.

Thanks, Rafi, for your input. I think that Norman's is American food. (No offense). But, hey, I said "favorite" and "in your location" so it qualifies. I dunno. I just miss it.

Esser Agaroth said...

Batya, You're right about Cafe-Net. Who would've thought that some corner of a mall/bus station could produce such a good sandwich? (Jerusalem Rabbanut - Mehadrin) Actually, I've never had one, but I see the time they put into making them. One of their secrets (not anymore) is shpritzing some olive-oil based salad dressing on into the [Israeli] toaster while cooking, flavoring the toasted outside.

JJ said...

This isn't really in your neck of the woods, but the best pizza in Israel (one of the best I have ever tasted in the world, as a matter of fact) is Pizzafino in Ramat Aviv Gimmel - sorry I can't remember which hashgacha it has.

If you're ever in the North Tel Aviv area, it's definitely worth checking out. Perfect crust, perfect sauce, perfect everything.

Ezra said...

If we are talking Tel Aviv pizza, then Agvania can not be left out.

Jacob Da Jew said...

"JDJ, Darn! I thought I was being mischievous. But, now you're the one stealing! A "retroactive tag?" Is that mutar? ;-) Thanks."

As my friend "fizzle" likes to say

"Don't Jew me!"


Esser Agaroth said...

JDJ (eyebrows raised) said...

The Felafel Stop on Ahuza in Ra'anana is excellent, even if it's a bit yuppie. The pitot are first rate. Their shtick is that they add toppings. My favorite is the Mexican felafel with corn chips, salsa, guacamole (in season) and tabasco.

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