Can falafel, Israel’s fast food, be luxurious? It can in Jerusalem.
Summer has officially arrived in Jerusalem. Tis the season when Israel’s capital fills up with tourists and locals eager to explore Jerusalem’s rich history and impressive innovation. Obviously, with touring comes hunger. In Jerusalem craving that hunger means munching on falafel balls– solo, in pita, or on platters. Jerusalem runs on falafel.
Maybe the city has a few other restaurants and food establishments for tourists but falafel is the certainly the national food. Together with its chickpea cousin, hummus, falafel is uniquely deep-fried treat that breaks pre-exisiting barriers. Falafel is a food that manages to tear down the walls of conflict, uniting Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, native and immigrant. Its price point makes it affordable and enjoyable to all.
Falafel is cheap. It’s healthy. It’s fast food. It’s delicious.
Read up on the health benefits of falafel here.
Falafel kiosks can be found all over Jerusalem, they’re are a dime a dozen in this seriously holy city. Every corner is home to another falafel stand, each selling the Middle Eastern gyro-like dish. While debates on the ratio of salad: falafel content will never be settled, one thing is for sure falafel is guaranteed to be a great meal. The most important ingredient to a good falafel is the actual ball, some places have taken this dish to the next level. They’ve gentrified the fast food meal and transformed it into a tasty, yet modernly elegant, meal that infuses the pita pocket with some luxury.
Here are four Jerusalem establishments that are giving falafel balls an impressive boost of sophistication and elegance without mitigating the flavor and the experience:
4 Ta’amim (4 Flavors)
Bored by the classic falafel? Venturing out from the center of Jerusalem along the light rail, brings a tourist to this amazing falafel joint that packs any pita with some significant punch. At 4 Taamim, diners can choose from four awesome flavors. Sure, diners can go with the classic (chickpeas and spices), but why not test the limits in falafel cuisine with the slightly spicy red, green (parsley and cilantro), or sesame (filled and coated with toasted sesame seeds).
For the indecisive, they even offer a mixed option. It’s like a rainbow of falafel goodness only made brighter by the salad options.
Located right in the center of town, this place is ideal for any tourist. It’s big. It’s fresh and service is excellent. While Arkadish is pretty well known for falafel’s counterpart, shwarma, the falafel here is amazing. What makes this place awesome? Guacamole in a pita with falafel. Yup! Arkadish brings falafel to an entirely new level with this Mexican twist.
Location, location, location. That’s what makes this restaurant awesome. Situated along Jerusalem’s First Train Station route, the trendiest tourist falafel destinations, Beit Hakavan is unique in flavor and design. The former conductor’s station, now two-floor restaurant, is prime real estate for great eating.
In terms of falafel balls, they bring it. Crispy. Tasty. Filled with some of their home sauces (not too spicy), make this place all the more awesome. With prices in a reasonable range, a couple or family can easily enjoy a sit down meal without breaking the bank during their visit.
This classic Iraqi restaurant has been cooking in Jerusalem since 1952. The unique style of cooking is seeing a resurgence as a global movement. Hidden in the back alleys of the famous Jerusalem shuk, Azura boasts its flavor and service that clearly make it a must-visit for any foodie. Their menu is packed with the classic hummus joint and the rustic ambiance makes Azura ideal for a good meal. In classic style, all orders are memorized and the lo-tech style only adds more value to Azura.
Together with their iconic menu, Azura serves some delicious falafel. With such a rich Middle Eastern heritage, the falafel, like all of the food, is delicious.
With these off-the-charts-delish Jerusalem establishments serving top quality falafel, the real issue becomes which one to try first.
The article was written by Mordecai Holtz, Director of New Media for Itraveljerusalem.com, the official portal for all Jerusalem travel information. Join the conversation about Jerusalem travel by following them on Twitter, Facebook or Instag