In many of our articles, we nod to our favorite culinary stops – go here for breakfast, here for lunch, there for dinner. That’s all well and good, but Jerusalem offers a dynamic dining opportunity that many cities don’t: seamless progressive feasting. To help guide you on your perfect gustatory adventure, then, we’ve assembled our favorites for nibbles and sips. Each destination offers an experience that feeds a never-to-forget evening. Enough banter; let’s dine at these Jerusalem restaurants…
Pre-dinner Vino: The Wine Temple
Nestled in the former German colony within Jerusalem (yes, there was one) sits the century-and-a-half-old wine cellar known simply as The Wine Temple. We like to think of this as a refurbished catacomb – what with the rough stone arches, domed ceilings, and carved alcoves in which wine walls now prominently stand.
While this space is often used for small events – owing to its cozy and exceedingly private setting – it’s also great for a taste of Israeli wine before a meal out on the town. Grab a seat the bar and let the on-staff somms walk you through a wine flight, running the gamut from 101 basics to a full spread of complex reds and whites unique to Israel. You can even get domain-only flights from Galil Mountain, a prominent winemaking region in Israel. Tastings take about 45 minutes (though feel free to linger and sip a while) and cost between 95 and 1000 Shekels ($27-275).
Small Bites: Cheese & Wine Rooftop Restaurant at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
The Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is not what you might think; instead of serving only those of the cloth, it’s actually a hotel complex open to the public. It opened its doors in 1882, primarily to house French pilgrims interested in visiting the city. Since then, it has expanded to serve all visitors to the Holy Land, complete with rooms and suites, a separate hostel, restaurants, and a chapel. If you want gorgeous views of the Old City Jerusalem while you enjoy an appetite-stoking series of hors d’oeuvres, consider the onsite rooftop restaurant, simply called Cheese & Wine.
No surprise that cheese is the centerpiece of the menu, including full platters of dairy goodness themed by country (Italian, French, Swiss, and so on). If you’re a bit choosier, then help yourself to the à la carte options; everything from firm, truffled Pecorino to the veiny Bleu d’Auvergne dots the menu, so you’ll find something that satisfies your cheesy tastes. You can also supplement with a number of non-cheese apps, including the inventive Beef Carpaccio atop tabbouleh and Pumpkin Cannelloni. And since you’re in Jerusalem, why not pair with an Israeli Pelter Chard as you take in the lighted Temple Mount in the distance?
Main Meal: Atalaya
Whatever other adventures you have planned in Jerusalem, please try to make a reservation at Atalaya. This quaint destination restaurant in the hills of Ein Kerem has a charm to it unsurpassed by any other restaurant in the Holy City. Helmed by visionary Chef Atalaya herself, the restaurant is all about bringing people together over a good meal. Keep an open mind come dinner, as Chef Atalaya cooks based on the best produce she can source from Jerusalem markets, nearby forests (yes, she does her own foraging), and her vibrant rooftop garden. Starring dishes might include vegetable sautés, roasted racks of lamb, and fig-topped breads – but don’t set your heart on any one thing. To dine at Atalaya is to soak in the whim of the chef, the orchard-dotted environs of Ein Kerem, and the company of friends and family. Without exception, a meal at Atalaya is an experiential culinary marvel.
Dessert: Babeit Café
Wowed by Chef Atalaya and newly in love with Jerusalem, descend down the mount and head to the city’s Downtown Triangle, where you’ll find beloved Babeit Café. Wood-soaked, clean, and refined, it’s nonetheless a buzzing centerpiece of social life in Jerusalem – not least of all because its waffles are addictive. That’s right; Belgian waffles are on the menu for dessert, piled high with your topping of choice. Go classic with strawberries and whipped cream, or go off-script with applesauce and sour cream. Pair it with a short expresso as you listen to the beat of conversation all around you; this place is open until midnight, and crowds are happily downing their waffles between gab fests until the late hours.
After-dinner Cocktail and Music: L’Drum Room
Not quite ready to call it a night? Sounds like us. If you want a nice capstone to your culinary adventure in Jerusalem, head to L’Drum Room – a destination inspired by the American Jazz Age and the Roaring 1920s. A strange find in the Middle East, perhaps, but dang if this place isn’t electric. Our unfailing recommendation is to order an Old Fashioned – they have both the artistry and science of this drink mastered – and settle in for a set or two or soul-stirring sax. No matter who’s performing, you can bet that the exquisite music plus a masterfully-mixed cocktail will be the perfect ending to a perfect evening in Jerusalem.