Must-Try Israeli Street Food in Jerusalem
Food in Jerusalem
While most visit the city for its historical and religious significances, one of the highlights of visiting Jerusalem is eating well. Visitors and residents alike take advantage of the delicious Israeli street food options found all over the city. Whether it is falafel or hummus or a sabich that first comes to mind, the Holy City of Jerusalem offers a wide variety of mouthwatering options!
A lot of Jerusalem street foods share lineage with other Middle Eastern cuisines. You will see plenty of Palestinian dishes, similar Jordanian foods, as well as influences from the Mediterranean, North Africa as well as foods from all over the world. Israel is now home to people who have come from over 100 countries, and with them, they bring the flavors and the recipes from their families.
When exploring Jerusalem’s food scene, one of the first stops you should make is to Mahane Yehuda market, the most well-known of the markets in Jerusalem. Just a short walk (uphill) from the Old City, it is lined with fresh foods, meats, sweets and is packed with locals and visitors alike. You can also find sit down restaurants in this Jerusalem market offering pizzas, hamburgers, and other quick meals.
Spilling outside the market you will find bakeries, restaurants, street food vendors and shops. This is where you’ll find some of the best food in Jerusalem. If you want my pick on the best place to stay in the city, it is within walking distance to this local attraction.
But when it comes to deciding what to eat in Jerusalem, the mouthwatering choices are quite plentiful. But that doesn’t have to mean expensive—as with street food in Tel Aviv, the street food in Jerusalem is plentiful and affordable!
Many of the most popular foods of Israel are available to go or from street food vendors: Everything from special Israeli drinks to decadent Israeli desserts! This list of popular street foods in Jerusalem has the traditional food in Israel that you will not want to miss; it is sure to keep you satiated on any trip to Jerusalem.
The Best Israeli Street Food in Jerusalem
Hummus—Traditional Israeli Food
Hummus is like its own food group, and is essential to Israeli cuisine. This chickpea and tahini (sesame paste) dish can be made with all kinds of flavors, from lemon and garlic, to pine nuts or cumin. It is even mixed with fava beans and served at breakfast in Jerusalem.
Nothing like what you will find in the store, freshly made hummus is a must when you visit Jerusalem. You can get this traditional Israeli food all over, but I suggest a trip to Abu Shukri Restaurant in the Old City for the best hummus in Jerusalem.
Falafel—Popular Jerusalem Street Food
A must for any trip to just about anywhere in the Middle East is these deep fried bits of deliciousness. Jerusalem is no exception, and falafel is even considered to be Israel’s unofficial national dish. So, eating falafel in Israel should definitely be on your itinerary!
Falafel is a combination of chickpeas, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and seasonings like salt and pepper and coriander. Make sure you grab your falafel from a street vendor, that’s where you’ll find the best falafel in Jerusalem. You can get the falafel on its own or a whole falafel plate that offers hummus and salads or fries.
Falafel Sandwich— Israeli Street Food Meal
If you love breads, get yourself a falafel sandwich while in Jerusalem. Falafel balls are put into a pita (Israeli bread) making the perfect size meal.
The pita is stuffed with various accompaniments, either made to order or in a self-serve topping bar. You can expect hummus, eggplant, salads, sauces and even french fries in a falafel sandwich. It is all up to the cook, or the customer!
Jerusalem Bagel—Specialty Food of Jerusalem
This specialty of Jerusalem cuisine, Beigeleh (in Hebrew) Ka-akh (in Arabic), is sold on street carts around the Old City and in the muslim quarter.
These Israeli snacks are an oval shaped bread, similar to a bagel, but not quite as dense. You can grab this Jerusalem street food and eat it as is, or use in several dips like hummus or baba ghanoush.
Shakshuka—The Go-to Breakfast in Israel
While you can’t really eat it with your hands, Shakshuka is the go-to breakfast in Israel and so popular I felt as though it had to make this list of Israeli street foods.
It consists of poached eggs served in an aromatic tomato sauce and topped with various garnishes. While most often eaten at breakfast in Israel, it can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Sabich---Iraqi Inspired Breakfast in Jerusalem
The Iraqi inspired Sabich is the must-try new breakfast meal in Israel. the name sabich may have come from the Arabic word, Sabakh, which means morning. It is designed as an Israeli breakfast dish, but just like Shakshuka, this street food in Israel, is available all day long.
Served in a pita, the Sabich comes with fried eggplant, hard boiled eggs, Israeli salad, hummus and topped with tahini and a tangy amba sauce.
Shawarma—Famous Street Food in Jerusalem
Another ubiquitous Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine dish is a Shawarma. Shawarma is a slow cooked meat (usually beef, chicken, or lamb) that is then shaved into thin slices and served in a pita with chopped salad, tahini, pickled vegetables or a spicy schug.
Each Shawarma in Israel has its own array of spices and everyone will have an opinion on who makes the most deliciously flavored meat. You will find plenty of Shawarma stands in Jerusalem. Try a few versions of this famous Middle Eastern street food in Jerusalem and decide for yourself!
Fresh Squeezed Juices—Refreshing Israeli Drinks
You can find fresh squeezed juices all over Jerusalem. Make sure you try the flavourful lemon with mint, Lemonana. Plenty of vendors offer this Israeli mint lemonade at Mahane Yehuda market.
When it is pomegranate season, grab yourself freshly squeezed pomegranate juice! You will find street food vendors all over Jerusalem with their carts full of pomegranates.
Tea with Na’na—Sweet Mint Tea
Tea with mint (and lots of sugar) is the go-to drink in much of the Middle East. Jerusalem is no different. If you do not have much of a sweet tooth you can have yours without sugar, but do not expect to have much of the British style “milk tea” in this part of the world. However, you may be able to find some American-style ice tea.
Knafeh—Arabic Dessert in Jerusalem
Knafeh is a popular Arabic dessert that can be found in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem. It consists of melted cheese topped with a pastry or shredded wheat topping, then soaked in sweet syrup. This dessert in Jerusalem is usually sold by weight and can be highly addictive!
Baklava—Popular Israeli Dessert
Baklava is a delicious filo pastry dessert. The layers of pastry are generally filled with different types of nuts and held together with a sugar syrup.
You can find divine versions of this popular Israeli dessert at Mahane Yehuda market. Just beware, it can be a sticky and messy Israeli food to eat while walking!
Halva—Israeli Sweet Treat
The Israeli sweet, Halva is not just from Jerusalem, and really, none of these Israeli dishes (except a rare exception) are only found in Jerusalem. With so many international influences, halva can be found in much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Halva in Jerusalem has a tahini (sesame paste) base and can be made into many different flavors. You can see beautiful stands of halva at Mahane Yehuda market. Stroll the stalls and select a few of the colorful Israeli sweets to try.
Final Thoughts on Israeli Street Food in Jerusalem
While the city has many world class restaurants, some of the best food in Jerusalem can be found in the streets. The street food in Jerusalem offers may traditional foods from Israel and, as a melting pot, some of these Israeli dishes originated in other countries. However, now they are part of Israeli and Jerusalem cuisine as well.
Let us know in the comments: Are you planning to visit Israel or Jerusalem? What Israeli street food are you looking forward to trying? Or if you’ve been, let us know about your culinary experiences in Israel and/or Jerusalem.
About the Author
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada but she loves being a foreigner. She is the editor of Step into Jordan which helps people plan trips to the Middle East. She is also the editor of an adventurous family travel blog Carpe Diem OUR Way where she encourages families to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.