Taking advantage of the fast eats and street food in Israel is perfect for travelers on the go looking for authentic snacks. While Israel does have a number of international fast food chains, street vendors are our top choice. The options they offer are healthier, and give you a literal taste of local life. We’re here to tell you about our favorite street foods, and the best ways to enjoy them. If you’re interested in a guided introduction to Israel’s food culture, check out our Israel food tours. Some of our top choices include this Tel Aviv food tour exploring Carmel Market with a guide and our Jerusalem food tour that takes you through Machane Yehuda and includes a cooking class.
The country’s unofficial national dish, this delicious snack can be found on almost every street in the country. Whether you’re sitting at an outdoor cafe or exploring the markets in Tel Aviv or markets in Jerusalem, you’re sure to find some of these savory treats. Made with ground chickpeas and an unforgettable and unique blend of spices, these deep friend bites of heaven can be eaten on their own or inside a stuffed pita. We recommend grabbing some at a local kiosk or street food stand for the most authentic experience, and eating it while you stroll the streets. We’ve also made a list of the best falafel in Tel Aviv.
Shwarma is a ubiquitous Middle Eastern dish. There are numerous mixes of meat, spice blends, and origin stories for this fantastic snack. No matter where it’s from or what it’s made of, shwarma is our favorite thing to stuff inside a pita. Made on a spit where it becomes crisp and juicy with basting a long, slow cooking process, this traditional dish is served everywhere from roadside eateries to upscale chef restaurants. It’s usually a blend of chicken, turkey, lamb, and occasionally beef. The meat is sliced and stuffed inside some sort of bread. It’s served with chopped salads, tehina sauce, pickled vegetables, and hummus or a spicy schug.
A flaky pastry created by Turkish Jews, and wildly popular across Israel. While they’re usually filled with a savory filling, including salty cheeses or mushrooms or spinach, you can also find sweet versions in most bakeries. Perfect for a beach picnic or a brunch spread, these are great to grab on the go. They’re small, so we recommend getting a bag and filling it with a selection of different bourekas to taste your way through some of the best street food Israel has to offer. A more modern take on this traditional pastry is the controversial pizza flavor: we’ll let you make up your own mind about this option.
This traditional breakfast dish from Iraqi Jews supposedly gets its name from the SBH letters that make up the main ingredients of this fantastic sandwich. Salatim, or salads, beitzim, the hardboiled or roasted egg, and hatzilim, the crunchy eggplant. The letters could also correspond to the words for morning in Arabic, but either way, you shouldn’t miss this incredible snack. It’s often topped with creamy tehina and tangy amba sauce. This sandwich is a mix of zesty spice, crunchy vegetables, and flavorful additions that melt in your mouth. Our favorite way to enjoy this is on the beach or people watching on Rothschild Boulevard.
A traditional Shabbat morning meal across Israel, this Yemenite Jewish dish has become popular across all of Israel. Made by Yemenite grandmothers for delivery and served in restaurants, this dish is our favorite way to start the morning. A multi-layered and flaky pastry that’s cooked overnight, nestled in a pot with eggs, it’s heaven. Jachnun is commonly served with baked eggs, spicy zhug, and grated tomatoes for the perfect blend of sweet and savory. While it’s not the lightest way to start the day, it’s a deliciously decadent one. Learn more about jachnun in our article all about this savory pastry.
Fast Food In Israel
If you can’t cut fast food cold turkey, you can find common international chains like McDonald’s or Burger King. Be aware that some are kosher and will not sell cheeseburgers. Israel’s favorite burger spots are Ad Haetzem and Agadir, both fantastic fast food options with a local spin. While Domino’s is a popular pizza joint, most locals prefer Tony Vespa in Tel Aviv or Big Apple in Jerusalem. Moses is another favorite serving fast eats and street food in Israel, serving everything from shnitzel sandwiches to Israeli salatim.