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!
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • 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.