After my first few trips to Israel as a kid, I couldn't wait to go back and experience Israel and everything it had to offer from nightlife to food and drink. This past winter I was fortunate enough to go on Birthright Israel, and had the opportunity to try so much delicious food from all over the country. Israeli food is a wonderful mix of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. The produce and locally grown products from Israel are not only delicious, but make for some of the best food I've had. If you're unsure which foods to try first, here are my top 10 favorite Israeli foods you should try.

1. Shakshuka 

Rachel Eng

Shakshuka is a dish made up of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, flavored with cumin or other popular spices. This delicious meal originated in North Africa, and has since spread across the globe. Shashuka is without a doubt a food you MUST try while abroad in Israel. 

#SpoonTip: You can easily make shakshuka at home, too! 

2. Falafel 

trio, Mediterranean, falafel, shwarma, Street food
Caroline Ingalls

Made of ground chickpeas and seasoned with onion, garlic, parley, cumin and any other flavors your heart desires, falafel is the perfect food. Traditionally served with pita bread or on lafah (a Middle Eastern flatbread), falafel is often paired with a traditional Israeli salad of cucumbers and tomatoes, tahini and/ or hummus, pickled onions, cabbage and more. The best part is that you can customize your falafel to your personal taste.

#SpoonTip: Want it spicy? Throw on some zhug (hot sauce).

3. Shawarma 

meat, bread, gyro, sandwich, beef, vegetable, lettuce
Net Supatravanij

Hands down my favorite Israeli food, shawarma is either lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats that have been placed on a spit and slowly grilled all day. Similar to a falafel, shawarma can be served with a variety of toppings and sauces, and never fails to satisfy. The slow cooked meat is thinly sliced off the spit and piled into warm pita or lafah and smothered with salad and hummus. 

4. Aroma Espresso Bar 

coffee, chocolate, beer, beans
Helen Broad

If you find yourself just about anywhere in Israel craving your afternoon pick-me-up, just turn one way or the other and you'll see the beautiful black and red sign for every Israeli's favorite coffee shop, Aroma. This coffee shop is a godsend on a long, jet-lagged ridden trip. 

While I'm a big espresso girl myself, there's something special about the "Iced Aroma" that I just can't get out on my mind. Essentially a coffee slushy, this cold drink is an absolute must try on your trip abroad to Israel.  

5. Pesek Zman 

Anna Gombar

I'll admit it, I'm obsessed with Nutella. I don't think I'm alone here, and I don't think I'm alone when I say I love Kit Kats. So, just image my happiness upon discovering Pesek Zman. My two favorite chocolatey snacks come together in this treat  to create the most mouthwatering candy I've ever tried. Like a Kit Kat, Pesek Zman is make of chocolate-filled wafers, but with an added layer of hazelnut spread, all covered in chocolate. Talk about good eats!

6. Hummus 

bread, hummus, vegetable
Christin Urso

Maybe this goes without saying, but were you really in Israel if you didn't order a big bowl of hummus at least once? There are endless options for a hummus bowl; restaurants mix in meats, vegetables, spices, and all kinds of flavors to create the best "dip" you've ever had. Eat it with pita or sliced veggies, or pile it onto a sandwich or wrap. No matter where you go nowadays you can find hummus, but to get the good stuff it's worth the trip to Israel.

7. Bourekas 

toast, coffee, french toast, tea, syrup, maple syrup
Tal Segal

A delicious puff pastry that comes with a variety of fillings, bourekas can be purchased one at a time or in bulk for a family meal. At a local cafe, you can order a boureka and ask the server to add a hardboiled egg to it, because we all know we have to get our protein somewhere.

Local Israelis know which filling to expect by the shape of the bourekas—triangles are usually filled with cheese, rectangles with potatoes, and the ones with poppy seeds on top usually contain mushrooms. Depending on which cafe or bakery you make your boureka pit stop at, you'll be met with flavor combinations that make for a pretty great breakfast or lunch.

8. Tahini

cream, dairy product, milk, white sauce, soup, bread, pudding
Kristine Mahan

Tahini is made of ground sesame seeds, soaked in salt water, and made into a a thick paste. The paste is very oily, and oftentimes a little bitter. Just like hummus, tahini can be added to almost any Israeli dish for a little extra flavor that works perfectly with the usual combinations of spiced meats and vegetables.

9. Israeli Salads

vegetable, tomato, salad, pepper, cucumber, oil, onion, parsley
Steven Shaltiel

Israelis love their produce. No matter where you're grabbing a bite to eat, you're almost guaranteed to be offered salad. If you're at a sit down restaurant, expect a variety of pickled vegetables and salads to be brought to you, usually served with delicious hummus and warm pita. These small bowls are brought to the table to share family-style. Just make sure you save room for your main course! Israeli salads are a classic food to try while abroad in Israel. 

10. Dates

date, sweet, candy
Ashleigh Monaco

More than half of the world's Medjool dates are gown in Israel. As you drive through Israel, you'll see pastures of trees just to the side of the road, packed within a few miles. Here, on what seems to be a relatively small farm, hundreds and thousands of dates are grown, harvested, and exported. These sweet fruits make for an incredible snack on their own, or, you can try adding them to smoothies or oats for a sweet kick.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and try these delicious Israeli foods, or get to the kitchen and whip them up yourself! There's nothing quite as good as homemade hummus and pita!