The Jew And The Carrot

Kosher Traveler: Blending Traditions in Haifa

By Abra Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share
Abra Cohen
Hummus with fava beans at Hummus Said in nearby Akko is not to be missed.

Built on Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean coastline is northern Israel’s capital city and culinary hot spot, Haifa. Unlike Jerusalem where there are distinct Jewish, Arab and Christian quarters, the members of the five religions of Haifa (including two sects of Islam) for the most part peacefully coexist and often intermingle. The diverse population is seen in the city’s art and music scenes and most deliciously in its food.

In downtown Haifa, Arab hummus shops are housed in old Ottoman buildings with small barrel-vaulted ceilings and Arab artwork decorates the walls. These family restaurants are welcoming, featuring signature Arab hospitality. Most offer generous portions of salads like steamed cauliflower covered in fresh tehina, cabbage, beet and carrot salads. Try both warm and cold hummus platters and pitas fresh from the oven. A typical post-hummus delight is the strong coffee spiced with cardamom. When you finish, stroll down the streets and sample various styles of baklava and other sweets in bakeries that bring the neighborhoods together and stop in the outdoor markets, or shuks. Here you’ll find the freshest produce, multiple varieties of olives, fresh fish and cheeses that arrive daily.

The city is also host to several chefs who are reinvigorating local ingredients with modern twists at upscale restaurants.

About 20 miles away and easily accessible by train or car is Akko, a small mixed city that was the capital of the Crusaders. Wind through the small alleyways of the ancient city to find some of the best foods in the area and a lively market.

Because Haifa and Akko are mixed cities, kosher cuisine is not as easy to find as other parts of Israel. The following restaurants are noted which are kosher.

Best Market and Hummus Spot: Hummus Said

Located in the Old City Market, Hummus Said serves up some of the best hummus in Akko — and perhaps in the entire country — to a long line of devotees from opening at 5:30am until closing at 2:30pm. The two room casual restaurant sits opposite a spice store and coffee shop in the Old Market. Everything at Said is made fresh: “everyday all day,” that goes for the creamy and nutty hummus and fresh pitas. Try the hummus plate topped with chickpeas or fava beans and the warm chickpeas tossed with tahini, lemon and garlic. Each order comes with a plate of olives, tomato and pickles turning a snack into a meal.
Old City Market, Akko.

Best Seafood: Uri Buri Fish Restaurant

Israelis and tourists alike flock to this fresh fish spot to try chef and owner Uri Yirmias’s freshest catch of the day. Sitting opposite the Mediterranean in a 400-year-old Turkish building in Akko, this small airy restaurant is well worth the trip. The menu changes depending on what is fresh and available locally. Tell your server any dietary restrictions and leave the rest up to the cook. Many of the dishes are served tapas style, perfect for sharing. On a recent visit, the special was cod with sage and lemon accompanied by cauliflower puree and crème brulee for dessert, paired with Israeli wines. After dinner, walk a half block down the street for Yirmia’s newest delight — an ice cream shop that features home-made ice cream with flavors like rose, date, cinnamon and cardamom. Enjoy the cold treat opposite the shop, overlooking the ocean.
Light House Place, Akko. 04-9552212. Reservations recommended.

Best Salad Bar: Green Salad

Located close to the port, Green Salad serves up generous portions of their namesake. Open for breakfast and lunch, choose from a large selection of fresh vegetables to accompany a big bowl of greens, or add fresh schnitzel to a salad. If you are not looking for salad, they cook up daily soups and sandwiches. For breakfast you’ll find Mediterranean breakfast fare — choose from yogurt and muesli, eggs, cheese, olives and juice.
Haatzmaut Street, Haifa. 04-8664411. Kosher.

Best Bakery/Breakfast: Gal’s Bakery

Known by some as “Paris in Haifa,” Gal’s Bakery located at the top of Mount Carmel sells French-inspired and Israeli treats. The bakery has a laid-back atmosphere and decent service. They offer delicious breakfast pastries and treats suitable for any time of day. Try a croissant and coffee or homemade granola for breakfast and flakey bourekas and fresh-baked cookies for a midday snack. With great outdoor seating, take a break from sightseeing, relax and people watch over a good cup of coffee.
131 Hannasi St. 04-83829228. Kosher.

Best Kosher Chinese: Chinese Restaurant

Located in the Nof Hotel, Chinese Restaurant has an unassuming exterior and is one of only a few kosher Chinese options in the Haifa area. But packed with customers, the food speaks for itself. Try their corn soup and egg rolls for an appetizer; eggplant and garlic with steamed rice or beef schezwan for a main course. For dessert try the fried bananas with maple syrup or fresh lychee.
101 Hanassi Ave., Haifa. Reservations Recommended 04/835-4311. Kosher.

Best Fine Dining: Hanamal 24.

In the up-and-coming port area, located downtown, Hanamal 24 is a quiet break from honking horns and busy sidewalks and is the perfect spot for a leisurely date meal. On the second floor, the restaurant offers impeccable service, an excellent Israeli wine selections (start with the Prosecco) and a menu and atmosphere that carries you to France and Italy. With a French-trained chef, Hanamal 24 is packed on most nights during the week and the restaurant stays open as long as customers are dining. You can choose from a prix fixe or regular menu. For an appetizer, try the terrine of labane (goat sour cheese) and roasted veggies with lemon and vanilla. For the main course, try the fillet of European sea bass or ravioli with mascarpone and dried tomatoes. All of the dishes are served with freshly made bread and dipping sauces. For dessert try the Italian lemon meringue pie with sorbet.
24 Hanamal Street. 05-79442262. Reservations recommended.

Best Shakshuka/Fast Food Lunch: Chili Bar

A combination of Israeli specialties and chicken wings, show up on the menu at this fast food-style restaurant opposite the downtown area. Their shakshuka, an Israeli staple of slowly cooked tomatoes, spices with fried eggs and served with bread, is excellent for a quick meal. If you have a craving for chicken wings, try the sweet chili or Mexican sauce with jalapenos. With generous-sized portions, you will not leave hungry.
27 Haatzmaut Street, Haifa. Kosher.

Best kosher falafel: At David’s Falafel

Located in the busy Merkaz HaCarmel at the top of the mountain, At David’s is a small shop with minimal seating. They serve up simple but fresh falafel with choices of Israeli salads like cucumber and tomato, cabbage and fresh tahina and hummus. Try adding the chips (freshly fried fries) to your falafel sandwich. Enjoy your sandwich while people watching in the outdoor seating area.
1 Hayam Street, Haifa. Kosher.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Kosher Traveler, Haifa

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.