Eat Like a Local: 10 Must-Try Foods in Israel

The best part about visiting a different country is having zero excuses about eating your way through the local cuisine. And Israel is no exception. 

Via Sabra is proud of its specialization in Israel’s gastronomical scene, featuring in-depth culinary tours (with lots of sampling involved) that highlight the diversity of Israeli society. 

We’ve highlighted the best of Israeli food – with origins from Morocco to the Caucasus. We’re starting with our top ten favorites, the real food of champions. Next time you are in Israel, try them – we promise you won’t be disappointed!

Sabich

Sabich has quickly become as popular as shawarma, and rightly so. With Iraqi origins, sabich is pita based and filled with roasted eggplant, hard boiled egg, chopped salad, tahina and its signature amba (pickled mango) sauce. Sabich was initially enjoyed mostly within the central city of Ramat Gan – a metropolis for immigrants from Iraq. But the dish quickly spread to the rest of the country. Interestingly, the Israeli ‘sabich’ was actually named after its originator – an Iraqi immigrant named Zvika Chalavi. As Zvika, in Iraqi, is sabich.

Shakshuka

Served straight out of the oven, shakshuka is sure to warm you up during any point of the day. The traditional shakshuka is made with a base of tomatoes and spices with poached eggs on top. As shakshuka has taken off, so have the variations, which now include toppings of bulgarian cheese, spinach, eggplant and more.

Hummus (or to “go pro”, chamshuka)

Let’s talk about a true classic: hummus. Unlike the hummus you are most likely used to from your local grocery store, real hummus is creamy and best served warm. Each local hummusiya (hummus stand) boasts their own specialities, ranging from hummus with roasted mushrooms to hummus with shakshuka on top (chamshuka). Yes, you read that right – shakshuka. After trying this spin on a classic, there is no going back. 

Shawarma 

Another top-ten not to be missed is the slow cooked chicken or turkey, typically roasted on a rotating skewer. Eat it in a pita, lafa (larger wrap) or even on its own – shawarma is bursting with flavor and best served with side salads and french fries.

Falafel 

Of course, we can’t forget the falafel. These deep fried chickpea patties are traditionally eaten in a pita with hummus, side salads and french fries on top. 

Whole roasted cauliflower 

Who would have thought that a whole roasted cauliflower would become so popular? We have acclaimed chef, Eyal Shani, to thank for that. This trendy dish consists of a whole roasted cauliflower that is crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. This simple, yet flavorful, dish is best served with lemon, dipping yogurt or tahina.

Khachapuri 

A classic Georgian dish, khachapuri is boat-shaped bread with a cheesy middle. Khachapuri is best eaten by ripping off pieces of the bread and dipping it in the cheesy and poached egg middle.

Bamba, Krembo and Bisli

If you haven’t yet tried these classic Israeli snacks, be sure to pick up a bag or two at your closest makolet (corner shop). If you are in the mood for something savory and crunchy, opt for some bisli in barbeque or falafel flavor. If you are craving something sweet, then definitely try a krembo and bamba. Krembo, a chocolate covered marshmallow treat, is a favorite amongst all Israeli kids (and adults!). The same goes for bamba – sweet peanut butter puffs. 

Bourekas pinukim

Hands down, bourekas pinukim put your average boureka to shame. For bourekas pinukim are your classic warm and doughy bourekas filled with special fillings. Ranging from sabich style (eggplant, egg and pickle) to a more Mediteranean style (olive, feta and tomato), bourekas pinukim are a delicious way to elevate an Israeli classic.

Marak regel

Marak regel, a traditional Yemeni soup, is a staple in Yemenite households across Israel. And it has quickly become popular amongst the rest of the population as well. Marak regel is a warm and hearty soup of beef and cow’s leg, tomatoes, onion and plenty of Yemeni spices. If we lost you at the cow’s leg, please hear us out! The unique flavor of this soup coupled with the beef makes for a delicious cold winter treat.

With Via Sabra, you can eat like a local while promoting sustainable travel. With our unique focus on sustainable travel, Via Sabra is proud to offer authentic culinary experiences through our ecosystem of small business vendors, charities and everyday entrepreneurs across Israel. Learn more about our efforts to promote sustainable and local tourism.

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