Glatt Kosher Hotels And Restaurants in Israel
It's high season now in Israel and the country is expecting tens of thousands of guests in the next few months, all looking for fun days out, comfortable budget accommodation and great food. And Israel’s really come a long way in the last 20 years - the food scene here is booming, whether you’re a meat eater, a fish-lover, a committed vegetarian or an aspiring vegan.
Whether you’re in the mood for street food (falafel, sabich, shawarma), the great Israeli breakfast - in the form of eggs, jachnun or shakshuka - freshly caught St. Peter’s fish from the Jaffa port or a juicy steak in the Golan Heights, rest assured you’re going to find it in Israel.
Jewish dietary laws in the land of Israel
However, one thing you should note, if you’re not familiar with Jewish law, is that many hotels and restaurants in Israel operate standards of kashrut - that is, laws that pertain to food. If these hotels and restaurants abide by rules, they will be given a ‘kosher’ classification by the Israeli rabbinate.
Not all of these restaurants have this certification but the fact is that Orthodox Jews will always adhere to the Jewish dietary laws which, at their most basic, prohibit the mixing of milk and meat foodstuffs, as well as the prohibition of pork, shellfish and any other animal that does not chew the cud. This means that when looking for somewhere to eat out, they want to be sure the kitchen and foodstuffs are in line with Jewish law, hence this certification.
Glatt kosher - what does it actually mean?
Just as there are different kinds of Christians, Muslims and Hindus, there are different kinds of Jews. Some Jews in Israel (and in the diaspora) are secular, some are Masorti (traditional) and others are ‘Orthodox,’ ‘modern Orthodox or ‘Haredi.’ Depending on how observant (religious) they are, they may want an even stricter certification than normal, which is where ‘glatt’ comes in.
Glatt - more widely referred to as ‘Mehadrin’ in Hebrew and Yiddish - means ‘smooth’. However, when you’re talking about kosher meat, it is an indication that the lungs of the animal are completely unblemished and free of defects - thus adhering to a more stringent level of observance.
Do you have to be Jewish to eat at a glatt kosher restaurant?
Today we’re looking at glatt hotels in Israel that conform to rigorous standards and display a ‘Mehadrin’ certificate on their premises. If you visit one for lunch or dinner (or to stay) you will probably see a fair number of observant Jews (who live their lives according to the regulations contained in Jewish sacred texts) - from the head covering, to black frock coats and fur hats) there.
The good news is that you definitely have to be Jewish (or even a believer in God!) to eat at these restaurants. They are open to the general public - all you need to do is decide, beforehand, if you’re in the mood for meat or dairy, because you will never have both in the same place. Here are a few of our recommendations for glatt kosher hotels and restaurants in Israel…
Glatt kosher hotels and restaurants in Jerusalem
Of all the cities in Israel, it’s Jerusalem where you’ll find the kosher hotels in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat and Northern Israel and the best restaurants which adhere to the strictest standards. These include (but aren’t limited to):
Prima Kings, 60 King George - Close to both the Great Synagogue and the Old City, this 213- room hotel is a comfortable and budget-friendly experience, with chef-prepared kosher meals.
Jerusalem Gardens Hotel and Spa, 4 Vilna Street - Located on their 12th floor, this small, intimate restaurant offers both panoramic views of the city and terrific kosher food. Not cheap, but a true ‘Manhattan-style’ meat restaurant, with artful presentation and excellent service.
Caesar Premier, 208 Jaffa Street - In the heart of the city, this European-style hotel offers comfortable accommodation and a restaurant that can also cater for large events. They pride themselves on their welcoming family atmosphere and their rooftop swimming pool offers separate hours for men and women.
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 26-28 Agron Street - This unabashedly luxurious hotel is just 500 metres from the Jaffa Gate, in Jerusalem's Old City, and offers light bites, afternoon tea and gourmet cuisine, all under the supervision of the Jerusalem Rabbinate. They also offer a lavish Shabbat buffet lunch (pre-payment necessary).
Rimonim Shalom Hotel, 24 Shakhrai Street - Formerly the Rimonim, the Shalom hotel is close to Ein Kerem and the Malka Mall and offers budget-friendly accommodation. Not only does it have a good restaurant, serving buffet meals, but it also boasts a semi-Olympic-sized swimming pool and a convention centre.
The Inbal, 2 Jabotinsky Street - This five-star hotel, located in the very heart of Jerusalem, boasts the ‘O2’ - a meat restaurant which specialises in defining and reinventing Israeli cuisine, courtesy of Chef Nimrod Norman.
Leonardo Plaza, 1 Rabbi Akiva Street - For gourmet food lovers, visit here and enjoy fabulous cuisine in one of their three restaurants, each inspired by different traditions. ‘Primavera’ is essentially Italian, ‘Cow in the Roof’ gives you a taste of French classics and ‘Cardo’ is where they serve their breakfast treats. They also host Friday night dinners and an enormous Shabbat buffet, along with fine wines. All supervised by the Jerusalem rabbinate.
Red Heifer Steakhouse, 26 King David Street - Close to the King David hotel, this upscale meat restaurant offers everything from burgers and meat pizzas to high-end cuts and steaks such as filet mignon. All of their beef is hormone-free and steaks are aged for a minimum of 28 days, on-site.
Tzuba Hotel, Kibbutz Tzuba, Jerusalem Hills - Nestled in the Judean hills, just 20 minutes from Jerusalem, this kosher kibbutz hotel in central Israel offers guests both rich buffet lunch (quiches, local farm cheeses, pastries and desserts) and also caters to larger events, such as bar mitzvahs. Fun fact: they actually run chocolate workshops!
The Four Sephardic Synagogues, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockGlatt kosher hotels and restaurants in Eilat
Eilat welcomes tourists from around the globe but particularly at Passover and Sukkot, many religious Jews vacation here, and are looking for ‘glatt’ options within their hotel accommodation and when dining out. These include:
Dan Panorama, the Northern Beach, Eilat - At this luxury hotel, world-class chefs will prepare you all kinds of culinary delights, including rich breakfasts, varied salads and tasty barbecue meats. Choose from the Dolphin dining room, Marina lobby or Bambou bar.
Herods Palace, the Northern Beach - Meals are a delight at Herods, with not just wow-factor breakfasts (four omelette stations and a dedicated juice bar) but the ‘Four Winds’ dairy lobby restaurant. For dinner, try their gourmet restaurants Tamarind and Tzaparim, which serve delicious, international fusion food.
Hilton Queen of Sheba, 8 Antibes Street - You have a choice of three restaurants here - all good. The Ebony is a pool restaurant and bar that serves grilled meats and cocktails. Makeda serves rich and yummy breakfasts. And their fabulous Japanese restaurant Yakimon, on the 12th floor, offers not just top-quality Asian fare but stunning views of the Red Sea.
Toy Bar restaurant, 1 Kamen Street - Dairy fare here includes arancini (Italian fried rice balls), delicious focaccia, a range of pasta dishes and cheesecake for dessert. Friendly, personalised service and diners recommend their themed cocktails.
Cafe Cafe at the Ice Mall - This kosher dairy restaurant is great both for snacks and main meals, and diners love their Thai noodles and choice of cakes. This particular branch is right next to an ice rink, so you can stop for a milkshake or pizza after you’ve worked up an appetite, zipping around the rink.
Antrikot Steak Houser at the Ice Mall - Well-priced burgers and steaks go down a treat here, and the side dishes (particularly the cauliflower) and tahini are raved about. Tasty food and helpful, friendly owners.
Glatt kosher hotels and restaurants in Tel Aviv and Central Israel
Regina, HaTachana The Station - Nestled in a 19th-century building, full of original features and beautifully preserved, sits Regina. This kosher meat restaurant, in the heart of HaTachana (the old Train Station), serves tasty and appealing food in a charming setting. Starters include beetroot carpaccio, meat hummus and smoked salmon bruschetta.
If you’re in the mood for fish, there is salmon or tilapia (with roasted beans on the side) and carnivores will love the house burger and veal kebab. And fear, not vegans, they have meat-free shawarma and burger made from seitan too. To make the evening go with a swing, order one of their famous cocktails - maybe a ‘Jaffa Special’ or a ‘Regina in the Forest’. Not cheap, but tasty.
Lehem Basar, Hanger 14, Tel Aviv Port - This steakhouse is located at the Tel Aviv Port (Namal in north Tel Aviv) close to the sea. Dishes include roasted eggplant, lamb stew, salmon fillet and a range of steaks. Enjoy a delicious sorbet for dessert whilst overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Alter Nativ - 10 Dubnov Street - Under the supervision of the Hatam Sofer, in Petach Tikva, this kosher dairy restaurant is a great place to grab breakfast, tuck into some fresh fish or enjoy a sizzling hot pizza. Even better, they offer free parking to their guests in the evening.
HaTachana (the old Train Station) in Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Pankina, 39 Gordon Street (corner Dizengoff) - In the heart of Tel Aviv, the dairy restaurant Pankina is so good that eaters there say it’s on par with places in Rome. Dishes include tuna tartar, eggplant con mozzarella, Caprese salad and Fettuccia al Porcino e tartufo. The desserts are magnificent - you can’t go wrong with the tiramisu, semifreddo or millefoglie. What’s their secret? Well, apparently, not only do they import many of their ingredients from Italy, but nearly all their staff are Italian too! Don’t miss it.
Papagaio - 2 Ha Shunit, Herzilya Pituach - This Brazilian-style table restaurant has an unlimited meat=tasting menu, as well as a regular a-la-carte menu. Located in Herzliya Pituach, inside the Arena mall and close to the boat marina, it’s a good option for those who are staying just outside the White City.
Fresh Kitchen - 2 Ha Shunit, Herzliya Pituach - This kosher dairy restaurant is also in the Arena mall. Recommended dishes include salmon, red shakshuka and chocolate cake.
Glatt kosher hotels and restaurants in Northern Israel
Aresto, Caesarea Harbour - This upscale dairy restaurant lies next to the Mediterranean and offers spectacular food in beautiful surroundings, overlooking the ruins of Caesaria. Their focaccia - topped with mozzarella and garlic - is delicious, their salads are bountiful and their eggplant roll is to die for. Pasta lovers will adore the lasagna and gnocchi and the red tuna and Denis filet will satisfy any pescatarian. A little costly but worth ditching the diet for.
Shaltieli, 6 Yohai Ben Nun Street, Haifa - The only kosher restaurant on the beach in Haifa, there are plenty of meat dishes on the menu, with a few vegetarian and vegan options besides. The hamburger and chicken come recommended and Shaltiel also screens sports matches and offers hookahs. Despite its casual vibe, you will, however, need a shirt and shoes to gain entry!
Nir Etzion Kibbutz Resort, Carmel Mountains - This kosher kibbutz hotel near Mount Carmel has a lobby bar Shirat Hayam, which serves a dairy menu (sandwiches, salads and cakes) and hot, cold and alcoholic beverages. The meat restaurant itself is under the supervision of Rabbi Nachsoni and also boasts a private dining space.
Sin Chan, 10 Shimon Dahan, Tiberias - If you’re in the Sea of Galilee area and in the mood for Chinese, then head to Sin Сhan. This excellent Asian restaurant serves great food at prices that are half of what you’d pay in Tel Aviv. The Chicken Szechuan and Pad Thai dishes come highly recommended! Oh, and come with an appetite because the portions are enormous!
Kinar Galilee, Moshav Ramot - Boasting plenty of food, breakfast and dinner are buffet style. All meat dishes have the Mehadrin supervision label on them. There are also fish and vegetable options and plenty of healthy food. Lunch is not served here but there is a bar selling light meals and after an enormous breakfast, that may be all you need.
Yosko Hummus 23 Ha-Nadiv Street, Zikhron Yaakov - Enormous portions are de rigueur with this family business - order one plate for two people. Try the mushrooms and eggplant varieties!
ltos Steakhouse, Golan Heights - With four different meat dishes on offer, as well as plates with grains and vegetables for the non-carnivore, this family-style eatery is close to the Golan’s capital, Katzrin, and a fine place to eat steak. It’s even better if you pair it with one of the local wines on offer.
Sea of Galilee, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana Mats