When eating and drinking in Jerusalem, there is one important thing to keep in mind other than the fact that local dishes are delicious and varied. You have to understand that the Jews don’t leave their religion on the shelf when eating. Both diners and restaurant owners strictly observe traditional dietary laws called kosher. Foreign tourists will not be required to observe Jewish laws when eating out but a knowledge of kosher will give them a good idea what to expect and not to expect in a Jewish restaurant.
A kosher restaurant will neither cook nor serve meat and dairy products together. Fruits, vegetables and grains must have been checked for insects and have met certain standards based on Jewish agricultural laws. Kosher restaurants will not serve pork since this type of meat is prohibited. They could serve beef and chicken but only if the cows and chickens were slaughtered following Jewish laws. Kosher can be very complex, and restaurants must be very meticulous or else they will not be certified. The Jewish diner will not eat at a non-Kosher-certified restaurant.
Traditional Israeli foods are some of the tastiest and most varied in the world. And again in Jerusalem, religion is tied with almost everything including traditional meals. For instance, when somebody mentions Shavuot, locals will start salivating for cheesecake and other dairy foods. Shavuot commemorates the time when God handed the Torah to his people in Mount Sinai.
Rosh Hashana or the Jewish New Year, on the other hand, is all about honey, honey cakes and pomegranates to make the coming New Year sweet.
Hannukah or the celebration of lights and national salvation is another popular Jewish celebration known all over the world. When one speaks of Hannukah, devotees know that they will get potato pancakes, doughnuts and plenty of olive oil.
Although Israelites love their traditions, beliefs and foods, Jerusalem has a lot more to offer than just Israeli dishes. There are several restaurants that serve Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Asian, European, and American dishes all over the city, especially near the Central Bus Station and Machaneh Yehuda (the Shuk) market, which is an outdoor market with more than 200 stalls. While walking along these stalls, market goers may enjoy a taste or two of shawarma (shavings of grilled meat), falafel (deep-fried patty balls), fresh fruit juices, meats, and pita bread.
To satisfy a craving for American foods, the most popular joints are Holy Bagel near the Central Bus Station, Angelica Fine Grill at Shatz St., Meat Burger at Hillel St., and Burgers Bar with several branches in the city.
Meanwhile, first-time tourists are often surprised to see several bars, clubs and party joints in the Holy City. There is fun and lively nightlife in Jerusalem, contrary to the city’s reputation as the birthplace of religions, faiths and beliefs. When eating and drinking in Jerusalem, the most popular bars are the Cassette, Prague, Birman, and Stardust, which was named after David Bowie’s hit album. These joints are often packed with partying students, young people, artists, music lovers, beer lovers, and tourists. For classic cocktails and a laid-back stylish dining experience, Angelica is the place to be.