Israel has recently become a popular travel destination, more specifically, Jerusalem, because of its incredible history and enriching cultural experience. Fortunately, I was able to travel there with my family last spring break, enabling me to share my food experience with the Spoon community. Walking through the Shuk, Jerusalem's famed marketplace, I discovered not only the aroma of fresh spices, but also the colorful array of foods down the line of vendors. It is a unique experience, one which I miss dearly.

The multitude of foodie opportunities is amazing and trying several dishes from the Israeli cuisine has heightened my standards for sure. My first meal in Jerusalem changed my world; the chicken schwarma and falafel left me craving the other Middle-Eastern dishes Israel had to offer. The freshness of the food and the range of options creates a foodie environment for everyone from any background to savor.

From falafels in the Shuk to frozen yogurt on the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel embodies the ideal foodie destination. Here is a complete list of some of my favorite dishes and desserts that I ate. 

1.  Marzipan Bakery

Charlotte Silver

As you walk into the famous Marzipan Bakery in Jerusalem, rows and rows of rugelach, babka, and other delicious pastries catch your eye. When my family and I came here for the first time, we were shocked at how delicious these desserts were and were tempted to come back several times after. The rugelach here is like none other—it is to die for! These soft, sweet, chocolatey delicacies will change your world forever and will surely leave you begging for more.

2. Machneyuda

Charlotte Silver

Deep within the Shuk, this restaurant is by far one of the best in the city of Jerusalem. Offering a variety of Middle Eastern oriented foods, there are many dishes to try from. Pictured is one of their most popular desserts which is a vanilla-like pudding in a plastic dish topped with caramel and sugar bread crisps (it may not look so breathtaking, but trust me, you will not understand its exquisite nature until you try it).

Some other popular menu items which also tasted spectacular were the mushroom truffle risotto and the lamb. Not only does Machneyuda offer amazing food, but they also create an upscale, fun scene where friends and family can go to have a good time. If you think you may want to eat here while visiting Jerusalem, make sure to book a table well in advance because it is a very popular tourist destination.

3. Azura

Charlotte Silver

Located in the Old City, this spot is a go-to. On a perfectly sunny day, there is nowhere I would rather spend my lunchtime other than surrounded by the lively scene of the Machane Yehuda Market. This restaurant is the place where my appreciation of chickpeas expanded well beyond my usual Sabra Hummus and pretzels snack. This visually aesthetic image captures the simple yet delicious appetizer that one can simply never go wrong with. The crispy falafel balls complemented the smooth and creamy texture of the hummus. The nutty hint of flavor incorporated in the hummus really makes the difference.

You may believe that all hummus tastes the same, but I am letting you know that this statement is completely false. In Israel, no matter the restaurant, you will taste something unique and different from the hummus you tasted before. Each chef takes a distinct route in perfecting the chickpea spread.  

4. Satya

Charlotte Silver

Satya has a casual yet intimate scene and the people who work there are beyond friendly. The most distinct aspect of this restaurant is its menu options. Not only does Satya offer Israeli dishes such as the "Jerusalem mixed sea" and "Calf Schnitzel" but it goes beyond with dishes like "Cream of Burnt Eggplant" and "Pappardelle Tomato Butter, Shrimps and Beef Fillet." The variety of dishes and exquisite menu provide a cultural and fun experience for any tourist or native to relish.

Pictured above, the sage butter gnocchi with parmesan that I ordered was absolutely magnificent. The sweet yet savory taste of the sage butter left me craving more. Most memorable was its succulent texture and rich center. Some other fan faves off the menu are the braised short ribs and the seafood risotto. 

5. Machane Yehuda Market

Charlotte Silver

Contrary to most classic American delicacies, this Middle-Eastern style dessert incorporates savory and sweet. The famous dish called Knafeh (which can be spelled many different ways) combines different types of cheeses and sweet flavorings to accomplish its shocking and remarkable taste. Although these ingredients do not seem to fit well together, think about it like cheesecake with a twist. I have to admit I did not want to try it at first, but my sister convinced me and I was not in the least bit disappointed.

The Mechane Yehuda Market, also known as the Shuk, comprises of several Israeli favorites other than Knafeh, such as falafel, schwarma, halva and dates. The halva was so delicious and they had a myriad of flavors from Nutella to pistachio. If I had to choose one foodie destination that is a must, it is this market for sure. At night time, this market is even more lively and crowded than during the day. 

6. Anita

Charlotte Silver

Another popular city and tourist destination in Israel, Tel Aviv, is filled with streets of frozen yogurt, but Anita- "La Mamma del Gelato" caught my eye when I saw someone eating it from the outside. When I walked inside, I was shocked by the number of toppings and flavors available—it is basically, a more up-scale Pinkberry. They offer a tart flavor similar to Pinkberry's famous flavor. I ordered the açai flavored frozen yogurt and topped it with pineapple, strawberries, and crunchy Nutella. It was definitely as good as it looks. I apologize for making you hungry, but this is for sure my favorite frozen yogurt in all of Tel Aviv. 

7. Benedict

Charlotte Silver

Without a doubt, the Benedict chain of restaurants has the hottest brunch scene in Tel Aviv, and your taste buds will surely agree. If I had to choose one restaurant in all of Israel that has to be visited, it would definitely be Benedict. Seeing the menu is the absolute worst because it is impossible to choose just one thing to order. Fortunately, I was with my family of five, so we ordered several dishes for the table.

Pictured at the top is the best option off the menu by far: banana pancakes with condensed milk and toasted coconut. Wow, all I can say about these pancakes is that they do wonders to your taste buds. The light and fluffy consistency of these pancakes is similar to the current trend of Japanese-style souffle pancakes on Instagram and throughout the foodie world. I finished these pancakes so fast that my siblings did not even have the chance to try them. The coconut and the condensed milk with the banana flavor made a perfect combo.

Charlotte Silver

Pictured here are the Oreo stuffed fluffy pancakes... yes, my family ordered three different kinds. Besides these banana coconut and Oreo pancakes, I had the pleasure of trying the fluffy white chocolate espresso pancakes as well. These pancakes were so unique because the espresso came on the side and was poured on top of the white chocolate, causing the chunks to melt on top of the pancake stack.

Other than pancakes, another delicious menu item was the spinach egg balls with goat cheese. Unlike most egg dishes in the United States, the eggs came in the form of balls stuffed with spinach, almost like a twist on quiche. The addition of goat cheese truly augmented the dish and created an unforgettable creamy sensation of melted cheese and eggs. 

9. Miznon

Charlotte Silver

This restaurant is the epitome of true Israeli food with a modern twist—sophisticated, yet casual. Surrounded by many stores and other restaurants, Miznon is in a beautiful location in Tel Aviv. Pictured is the one and only head of roasted crispy cauliflower. This was so amazing that even my dad, who hates cauliflower, liked it. This dish is any vegetable lover's dream. Another popular menu item I also ate was the falafel sandwich. They offer many different types of falafel sandwiches, but you seriously cannot go wrong with any of them.

Chef Eyal Shani has up-scaled the classic falafel stuffed pita to a gourmet dish, perfect for any tourist. If you are truly feeling adventurous try the dessert stuffed pita. Yes, I said it. A banana and chocolate filled toasted pita awaits you. This trendy tourist destination has even spread to places such as Australia and Paris. 

10. Sarona Market

Charlotte Silver

Last but certainly not least, this up-scale market is like a Smorgasburg for tourists. This mall of modern food, located in Tel Aviv, features a variety of desserts for everyone to try. Gaining inspiration from La Boqueria in Barcelona, Chelsea Market in New York, and Borough Market in London, the market brings a range of foods from ramen to pancake balls to the Israeli scene. While you stroll this market, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of amazing food offered. The pancake ball stand with options of Nutella and even white chocolate is to die for.

Another favorite is the classic Belgium waffle on a stick from Frost, which is paired with your choice of frozen yogurt and also has a chocolate fountain drizzle as a topping option. You cannot go wrong with this decadent treat or some cookies as pictured above. Soft, which offers ice cream, cookies, and crepes, is not like your average Insomnia. It exceeds the standard warm cookie by adding the option of soft serve on top. From flavors like Kinder to peanut butter cup, Soft's option of soft serve on top contrasts the hot cookie and the cold yogurt, creating the most amazing combination of texture and temperature.   

Visiting any of these amazing places and restaurants across Israel, anyone would enjoy the opportunity to experience the contrast between true Middle-Eastern cuisine and modernized Middle-Eastern cuisine. Traveling to the country was truly an amazing opportunity in which I fortunately was able to enhance my cultural food experience. There is no doubt in my mind that if you indulge in any of these places, you will not be disappointed. So, go out and enjoy the authentic Israeli foodie experience.