Shalom, Hebrew homies! Each year, thousands of Jewish college students and graduates take the journey of a lifetime — a free trip to Israel, provided by several different agencies. From the second the 11 1/2 hour flight touches in Israel, friendships are made, shekels are spent, and food is inhaled on Birthright.

But are you getting the best taste of Israel’s gastronomy that you possibly can? This list is here to ensure that you’ll be prepared for the many diverse (and delicious) meals, snacks, and drinks that will be thrown your way the second you land in the Holy Land.

Anywhere & Everywhere

Shawarma on Laffa or Pita

Brandon Fishman

Shawarma is a crucial necessity in Israel. Wherever you go, this Mediterranean specialty served in a pita or laffa (a thin wrap) is a consistent source of comfort while on Birthright.

When in Jerusalem, make sure you grab yourself a batch of “Jerusalem Mix,” a special two-in-one blend of sweet chicken and savory steak shawarma. Throw a side of fries on your makeshift sandwich — yes, you can add fries inside the wrap.

Estimated Price: 30 shekels


Just like shawarma, falafel is always there when you need it most. While the thought of eating fried chickpeas may kill your appetite, this delicious vegetarian option is the plug if you’re looking to take a break from shawarma.

Found on basically every cobblestone street and in every crowded marketplace Israel has to offer, falafel is the easiest and safest option for those who may be sketched out by ordering meat from a fast food, roadside stand. Estimated Price: 20 shekels

Ice Chocolate from Aroma Coffee

birthday cake, chocolate, cake
Brandon Fishman

The Starbucks of Israel, Aroma, features many caffeinated drinks that can wake you up after that two hour bus ride from the middle of the desert to Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem. Unlike Starbucks, Aroma features an almost milkshake-like option for non-coffee drinkers, such as myself.

With options ranging from the basic Ice Chocolate or Vanilla to the more elaborate Cookie Cream drink, Aroma will always hit the spot. And to top it off, each cold drink comes with a complementary piece of Israeli chocolate on top of the drink.

Estimated Price: 14 shekels


potato, meat, vegetable
Brandon Fishman

In America, we’re all very familiar with the pleasantly crinkled bag of puffy Cheetos that epitomized elementary school lunchtime. Imagine this beloved childhood snack with a powdered peanut butter coat, instead of the cheesy orange dust that stained to our fingers for what seemed like an eternity.

In Israel, this illusionary snack is a reality in the form of "Bomba." The seven Israeli soldiers that accompanied us on our trip recommended this mid-day pick-me-up, and it is available in nearly every supermarket for just a couple shekel.

Estimated Price: 4 shekels

#SpoonTip: DO NOT disregard the coins you get back as change — In Israel, they can be worth nearly $2.50 in U.S. dollars!

"Elite" Israeli Chocolate

Like Americans, Israelis are loco for their cocoa. While the country has their own version of popular American chocolates, such as Kit Kat and Milky Way, their unique renditions of these bars are what carried my friends and I through the long hours on #Bus34.

This massive milk chocolate bar is laced with the sparkling essence of Pop Rocks. The contrasting sensations of melting chocolate and fizzling rocks is unparalleled in the U.S. unless you’ve casually decided to eat chocolate and Pop Rocks simultaneously. 

Estimated Price: 5 shekels

Israeli Water Bottles

Brandon Fishman

Sad but true fact: at one point during my trip, over half of the kids on the trip were sick. For this very reason, everyone’s water is a must have on Birthright! The more hydrated you are, the better the odds you’ll survive Israel without falling victim to illness, especially if you spend a nightmarish night in the Beduin Tents.

These gigantic water bottles will not only be one of the best friends you make on the trip, but they are also a huge bargain when, so load up when you can.

Estimated Price: 6 shekels

#SpoonTip: Save these water bottles and refill them at hotels or kibbutzes along the way!

Ben Yehuda Street — Jerusalem

Crepes from "Fro Yo"

chocolate, pizza
Brandon Fishman

Holy crepe! While typically a French specialty, Israeli crepes are incredible, and this specific one is a folded slice of happiness. Fro Yo, as the employees call it, is located off to the left side of the downward-slanting hub that is Ben Yehuda Street.

While this hotspot is primarily a gelato shop, they make crepes right before your eyes just outside the store. Just twenty shekels (equal to about four dollars) can get you a little piece of heaven.

Fro yo crepes feature an almost Jackson Pollack-esq smattering of white and milk chocolate, Nutella, Israeli chocolate, candied nuts, butterscotch, Oreos, caramel, and more! Snag your crepe before you spread the word to your squad and avoid the occasionally lengthy line.

Estimated Price: 20 shekels

Sufganiyot & Donuts

cream, cake, ice, chocolate, ice cream
Brandon Fishman

During Hanukkah, these magical jelly-filled donuts are everywhere. From bakeries to even Burger King, sufganiyot are a favorite for the eight magical nights that just so happened to span across my Birthright trip.

Aside from the sufganiyot we ate every night when we sang songs and celebrated the festival of lights by lighting the menorah, Bus 34 was always on the look out for these donuts. Tons of bakeries line Ben Yehuda Street, so get ready to drop some shekels when you hit up Jerusalem.

Estimated Price: 3 for 20 shekels

The Shuks (Markets)

Pomegranate-Kiwi Juice

Brandon Fishman

In America, popular juices include apple juice, orange juice, and green juice for a healthy kick. Israel’s famed beverage stems from the always unheralded and often forgotten pomegranate. 

Vendors thrive on selling both the fruit of the psalms in both juice and fruit form, and you can find it at every fruit vendor in the narrow Tel Aviv markets. Add in some kiwi to perfectly balance out the sourness of the poms and you have yourself a delicious dose of freshly pressed juice.

Price: About 14 shekels


jam, cake, chocolate, bread, pastry, sweet
Brandon Fishman

For those who are unacquainted with rugelach, I send you my apologies. Israel will change that. The shuk is a perfect place to find this dessert in its natural habitat — homemade, fresh ingredients, family recipes, fresh out of the oven — the whole nine yards.

Like most things on this list, there is no specific location that you must go to get the single best rugelach, but I assure you that all of them are top notch. If you have the time, patients, and money, I encourage you to try rugelach from a bunch of different shops and hit me up if you have one absolute favorite!

Price: Varies based on quantity

Dried Watermelon

bacon, salad
Brandon Fishman

Bet you haven’t seen this one before. While it’s the hardest to find item on this list, dried watermelon is legit. In both of the shuks my group visited while in Israel (in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), I saw nearly as many dried fruit and nut stands as I saw stray cats.  Just keep your eye peeled for this rare and almost candy-like gem.

Price: Varies based on weight & quantity