Food & Restaurants in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, being the multicultural city that it is, has food from all countries, cultures, and tastes. Besides the ubiquitous falafel stands, there is European, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern foods. There is also a large ranges in prices, from the ritzy Mamilla and Emek Refaim, to falafel stands surrounding Machaneh Yehuda and the Central Bus Station. A good rule of thumb is to look for restaurants filled with Hebrew or Arabic speaking locals. For falafel, the busiest place is probably the best, because falafel balls become less tasty the longer they are waiting out of the deep fryer.
If you keep kosher, Jerusalem is a wonderful place to visit. In the Jewish sections of the city almost everything is kosher. However you should still check for the kashrut certificate on the wall. If you don't see it and the staff cannot show you it, it's a good sign to move along. The certificate is stamped בשרי ("basari", meat) or חלבי ("halavi", dairy). The current Jerusalem certificates are cream colored for normal certification, light purple for stricter certification ("mehuderet"), and marbled brown colored for strictest supervision ("mehadrin"). Certificates are valid for 6 or 12 months at a time (typically until Pesach or Rosh Hashana) with the expiration date prominently marked. Note it is not unusual for it to take a few days to get the new certificate up. In Haredi areas, the municipal kashrut certificate may be missing, but a certificate from a local Haredi organization will be provided. Also note that only some branches of McDonalds in Jerusalem are kosher. Kosher branches have yellow arches on a blue background, rather than the usual red background.
Despite its name, the "Jerusalem artichoke" has no connection to Jerusalem, and you won't find it used more widely here than elsewhere.
However, there is an authentic Jerusalem food - the Jerusalem mixed grill (me'orav yerushalmi), which was invented in the 1960s at one of the steakhouses near the Mahaneh Yehuda market and has since spread widely across Israel. It consists of a mixture of spicy grilled meat chunks including chicken breasts, hearts, and livers, and pieces of lamb. Nowadays you can get it as fast food wrapped in pita or laffa bread, or as a main course in sit-down restaurants. One famous place is Steakiyat Hatzot, Agrippas street; check out the photos on the wall.
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