Exploring Israel’s ‘Ethnic’ Cuisine

What exactly is Israeli ethnic food?

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From Givatayim’s renowned Sabich Shel Oved – a simple eggplant-sandwich shop with lines snaking around the corner — to lesser-known places like Chachaporia Georgian cuisine in Jerusalem, the new e-book “Israel’s Top 100 Ethnic Restaurants” provides the English-speaking tourist a window into the delectable, folksy Israeli foods that locals have raved about for years.

Israel has been on the culinary ascent of late, with dozens of food blogs, new high-end restaurants, cooking shows and celebrity chefs, and a fascination with everything foodie. But there’s no need for catchphrases like “local” and “fresh” in a place famed for its bountiful produce piled high in open-air markets, from Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market to Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem.

As noted in the book, which was published by The World Jewish Heritage, a nonprofit that promotes tourism to heritage sites, both markets also house restaurants and after-hour bars in addition to the daily fruit, vegetables and tchochkes they cacophonously hawk.

Many of the tastiest morsels aren’t served up in white-cloth establishments or by rising stars. Rather they are offered at nondescript holes in the wall and unadorned booths by old-school traditionalists, like Savta Eva on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, serving classic Ashkenazi fare such as chicken soup with matzah balls and farfel, or Rita Romano of the Libyan buffet at Rita’s Kitchen in Herzliya.

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