Food is one of the many ways travelers are able to expand their horizons and immerse themselves in a new culture. Sampling a country’s street food is arguably the most authentic and affordable way to get a taste of the local cuisine. Should you choose to travel to the Holy Land, here are just a few local favorites you may want to try.
An explosion of flavors and textures, shawarma is among the most popular street foods in Israel. It is made with spiced chicken, lamb, or turkey that is slowly grilled on a revolving spit, then stuffed into a pita with a variety of pickled vegetables and hummus or tahini sauce. While shawarma can be found in restaurants outside of Israel, there’s nothing quite like enjoying one on the streets of Old City Jerusalem. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss.
Made from a blend of ground chickpeas, herbs, and spices, rolled into little balls and deep-fried, falafel is one of the most common Israeli street foods. Its simplicity makes it extremely versatile. Eat it with a side of hummus as a tasty snack, or stuff it in a pita with French fries and salad for a light lunch. Falafel is also a safe go-to for those with dietary restrictions; on its own, it is typically gluten-free and vegetarian.
Best consumed fresh out of the oven, Bourekas are light, flaky pastries typically stuffed with savory fillings such as cheese, spinach, or potato. This delicious finger food was brought to Israel by Jewish immigrants from Turkey and the Balkan states and is available at most bakeries and supermarkets in Israel.
Whether dried or fresh, the streets of open-air markets and the ancient cities of Israel are often lined by vendors with mounds of fruits, olives, and nuts for sale. The Holy Land is well known for its delicious dried apricots, dates, and figs in addition to a wide variety of olives. In the summer and fall, you will also find vendors with pomegranates that you may choose to eat or have pressed into fresh juice.
No cultural experience is complete without a sample of the local cuisine, and we hope that this list will enrich your experience of Israeli culture.