Restaurants in Israel
offer a combination of Western and Oriental cuisine, in addition
to the local dishes. Some restaurants are expensive, nevertheless
a high price does not necessarily mean a high standard. Table service
is standard, there are also several snack bars.
Restaurants, bars and cafes catering to tourists
usually have menus in 2 languages (Hebrew plus French or English).
Israeli cuisine is basically a combination of Oriental and Western
cuisine, plus an additional distinct flavour brought by the many
and diverse nationalities which make up the Israelis.
Dishes such as Russian bortsch, Hungarian goulash,
Viennese schnitzel or German braten are found next to Middle Eastern
items such as falafel, humus, shishlik, tahini, kebabs and Turkish
coffee, as well as traditional Jewish dishes such as gefilte fish,
chopped liver and chicken soup.
The wines of Israel vary from light white to dry
red and sweet rosé. Israeli beers are Maccabee and Gold Star.
There is also a good choice of local liqueurs and brandies. Liqueurs
include Sabra (chocolate and orange), Arak (an anise drink) and
Hard Nut (a walnut concoction of Eliaz winery). A centre for liqueurs
is the monastery at Latrun on the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The Hebrew word kosher means food meeting the requirements
of Jewish religious dietary laws. Milk, cream or cheese can not
be served together with meat in the same meal. Pork and shellfish
are officially forbidden, but it is possible to find them on many
menus in non kosher restaurants.
There are discos and nightclubs
in most cities. Tel Aviv has an abundance of entertainment to divert
the visitor and there are rock, jazz, folk and pop music clubs in
all the major cities and resorts. Israeli folklore and dance shows
can be seen everywhere, particularly in the kibbutzim.
The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra can be heard in Jerusalem at
the ICC Binaynei Ha’uma Hall during the winter.
A summer charm is the Israel Festival of International
Cinema is popular in Israel and
many cinemas screen 3 daily shows of international and local films
(all Hebrew films are subtitled in English and French). Tickets
for all events and even films can be bought in advance from ticket
agencies and occasionally from hotels and tourist offices.
There is a wide variety for shoppers in Israel,
and in certain shops, especially in Arab markets, visitors can and
should bargain. Tourists who buy leather goods at shops listed by
the Ministry of Tourism and pay for them in foreign currency are
exempt from VAT and can receive a 25 % discount on leather goods
if these are delivered to them at the port of departure.
Special purchases include jewelry, diamonds and
other precious stones, wines, ceramics, glassware, embroidery, religious
articles and holy books. Cash back on purchased items can be obtained
from the Customs Office at the airport.
shopping hours are Sunday to Friday from 8.00 am to 7.00
pm, some shops close from 1.00 to 4.00 pm and some early on Friday.
Please remember that the shopping facilities are
both Israeli and Arabic, and are therefore governed by 2 different
sets of opening hours and methods of business.
stores observe closing time near sunset Friday evenings before Shabbat
(Saturday) and Arabic stores close on Fridays. It takes a while
to get used to the fact that Sunday is a normal working day unlike
in Western countries.
For shoppers, the Jewish stores are therefore open Friday, Arab
markets Saturday and both are open Sundays when Christian stores
close. Shops in the hotels are often open until 12.00 am.
Israelis are generally very informal but in keeping
with the European style of hospitality. Visitors should observe
customary courtesies when visiting someone’s home and should
not be shy to ask questions about the country as most Israelis are
happy to talk about their homeland, religion and politics.
Often the expression shalom (which means peace)
is used for hello and goodbye. Dress is casual, but in Jewish, Christian
and Muslim holy places, modest attire is worn. For places such as
the Wailing Wall, male visitors are given a smart cardboard yarmulke
(scull cap) to respect the religious significance of the site.
Businesspeople are expected to dress smartly, and
luxurious restaurants, nightclubs and hotel dining rooms may require
guests to dress for dinner. Formal evening wear is usually specific
It is considered a disobedience of the Shabbat (Saturday) to smoke
in certain restaurants and many hotels. There is generally a sign
to remind the visitor, and to disregard this warning would be regarded
as discourteous to Orthodox Jews.
The practice of tipping is less obvious than in other countries.
A 15 % service charge is added to cafe, restaurant
and hotel bills by law.