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You’ll find the cuisine in Jerusalem shares many similarities with that of other major cities in this Mediterranean region. Though there’s no shortage of good food here in Jerusalem, but these are five food experiences that Forbes Travel Guide editors think you shouldn’t miss:
1. Falafel. The single most iconic delicacy in Israel, falafel in pita is truly a taste of Israel. Most often served with tahini (sesame sauce), hummus and Israeli salad (diced cucumbers and tomatoes), these mashed and fried chickpea balls are on virtually every menu, and are even good at the stands and stalls on the streets or in restaurants like Moshiko. If you like a little extra kick, try the spicy harif sauce; the red sauce is mild hot and the green is hot hot!
2. Prickly Pears. Perhaps the most characteristic fruit of Israel is the prickly pear (or ‘sabra’ in Hebrew), which metaphorically refers to the thick and often prickly outer layer of this country’s people, but always leading to a warm and flavor-filled heart. These fruits are bountiful at markets like Mahane Yehuda.
3. Schnitzel. Grilled, breaded cutlets, known as schnitzel, were originally a European delicacy made with pork or veal. Here they’ve perfected a kosher version with chicken in Israel. In a sandwich at Pinati, with hummus or just on its own, this is a light but still absolutely delicious choice for lunch or dinner.
4. Shawarma. Served in pita bread like falafel, shawarma is the Arab-Israeli answer to the doner kabob of Turkey. The spiced roasted meat — often lamb — is cut off a vertical skewer and wrapped in a pita along with sauce, tomatoes and onions. At an institution like Manah vaChetzi, it’s a mouthwatering sandwich treat for any meat lover.
5. Halva. A dessert delicacy traditionally made of sesame, halva is perfected at Halva Kingdom on Ets Hayim Street within the Mahane Yehuda market. You’ll find 20 flavors of halva or more, from pistachio and hazelnut to chocolate and raspberry. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you sample a few before making a choice.