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Eating seems like a national pastime in Israel, and Jerusalem delights gourmets with a diverse array of restaurants. Chefs who have worked in the best kitchens around the world helm a growing number of restaurants. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you dine at these five places in Jerusalem:
1. Machneyuda. Don’t be surprised if you see Israeli celebrities or politicians dining at this popular new spot that specializes in dishes made with fresh produce from the namesake Mahane Yehuda market. Expect dishes like shrimp in garlic and olive oil, squid ink taglietelle with mussels or semolina cake with tahini ice cream. You’ll need some persistence, or help from a well-connected concierge to secure a reservation.
2. Canela. This sleek and elegant restaurant serves an international cuisine that draws inspiration from the Europe and the Far East (chestnut gnocchi in coconut milk) as easily as the Middle East (a slow-cooked ragout of lamb, eggplant and chickpeas.)
3. Luciana. An exceptional Italian eatery on the bustling Eimek Rephaim Boulevard, Luciana is known for its copious fresh salads and pastas, not to mention their hand-tossed pizzas and breads that smell like they’re fresh out of a Tuscan oven. The beautiful space includes a spacious yard sheltered by tall eucalyptus trees.
4. La Guta. This venerable top table in Jerusalem has a whole new attitude thanks to young chef Guy Ben-Simhon, who trained in the New York at Lespinasse and with Daniel Boulud. Expect dishes like drum fish sashimi with citrus and thyme salad, foie gras with cherry tomato jam and goose thigh in forest berries.
5. Sushi Rehavia. This upscale sushi spot on Azza Street brings delightful Japanese and Asian cuisine to Jerusalem, providing a welcome alternative to the hummus and shawarma. The menu is full of meat, fish and tofu options, prepared raw or grilled, always with absolutely fresh ingredients.