Latin food in its various forms wasn’t always so available here in Israel, until immigrants from countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina decided to join the Israeli melting potand bring along their scrumptious cuisines.
These days, you can actually be spoiled for choice when it comes to grabbing a great arepa or a Mexico City-style taco.
We’re here to lend a hand. From flautas in Tel Aviv to perfectly aged Argentinian cowboy steaks on Israel’s northern border, these are the best locales in Israel to quell all your Latin food cravings.
Booth #36, Carmel Market, Tel Aviv
Tacos, nachos, mole and flan; plus Mexican soccer culture, sombreros and San Miguel beer, equals a deliciously good time in the Carmel Market at none other than Viva Mexico taco stand. An authentic family-run affair, space here is tight, but the heart and soul that go into their deliciously authentic street food (lunch service only) makes up for it in strides.
Machane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem
A fast-food empanada joint from one of the chefs of Jerusalem’s trendy Hasadna restaurant, Argento is one of the best places to grab a quick (kosher) bite to eat in the heart of Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market.
Situated in the middle of the Iraqi vegetable market, just off the main drag, this is chef Lucas Zitrinovich’s passion project. He opened the handcrafted fast-food spot to celebrate his Argentinian roots.
Handmade empanadas fired up in a brick oven or fried until golden include spicy smoked chicken with cilantro and lemon; Ras-el-hanout rubbed lamb with peanuts and dates; and a vegetarian option with chard, mushrooms and smoked pumpkin.
While their signature empanada is a delicious affair of asado together with olives, onions, hard-boiled egg and sweet paprika, customers should not miss out on the chicharron sandwich with chimichurri and cranberry, and the refreshing sangria served in this hot spot.
11 Shlomtziyon Hamalka Street, Jerusalem
From corn husk-steamed tamales to chilaquiles (a breakfast egg dish) and tostadas, Tacos Luis, open several days a week in Jerusalem’s downtown, is a good choice for an authentic bite of kosher Mexican food in the most unlikely of spots.
Corn tortillas made in house in front of your eyesare used to make legendary tacos that house fried fish, (beef) carnitas, carne asada, and a kosher al pastor (a shawarma-style turkey) roasted on a spit with spices and pineapple.
Die-hard Mexican food fans will be delighted to see fruity agua fresca drinks and freshly fried tortilla chips on the menu.
11 Haegoz Street, Machane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem
Another great Latin spot in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market, Pepito’s is a pan-Latin street food restaurant that serves up kosher arepas, empanadas and other casual yet irresistible fare.
Owned by a married couple hailing from Columbia and Venezuela, among the restaurant’s signature dishes is a variety of meaty deli sandwiches served on ciabatta or tortilla, and arepas –-a South American maize flour bun sandwich, including “La Morena” stuffed with stewed asado meat, black beans, guacamole and salsa verde.
Other interesting bites such as a chorizo salad, yucca chips, and a classic Cuban mojito, go perfectly with the Latin music and bustling shuk atmosphere.
77 Herzl Street, Florentin, Tel Aviv
Starting out as one of the busiest food stalls in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, Arepas was a joint venture of a group of homesick Venezuelan friends.
Now in a new larger location in Florentin- a trendy South Tel Aviv neighborhood — the team can go beyond the arepas they made their name on (although no worries, they are still a signature dish in the restaurant).
Other dishes include Venezuelan empanadas, patacones (fried plantains), and cachapa (corn pancake) topped with variations like salty white cheese and goose breast, and more. An entire gluten-free menu section and treats like cocktails with Venezuelan rum and tres leches cake,satisfy more than just a craving for a meaty bite.
2 Vital Street, Florentin, Tel Aviv
For a taste of authentic Mexican flavors mixed with a few Tex-Mex dishes and served in a lively atmosphere,Tel Avivians know they’ll have to venture out to Florentin’s Mezcal Mexican Bar and Kitchenfor the best of the above.
With a menu put together by creative Chef Roni Pazhar, the small watering hole’s packed happy hour attracts many anew customer, but they come back for the house-made corn tortilla tacos, ceviche, salsa made from locally grown Mexican chili peppers, churros, and a fabulous selection of flavored margaritas.
1 Harishonim Street, Metula
An Argentinian style steak house and butchery in Israel’s most northern town, Hatachana has an aesthetic straight out of the Wild West. Serving veal that has been reared in Israel’s adjacent Golan Heights, the restaurant, which marries Israeli-influenced Argentinian and American steak house flavors, serves special cuts of aged meat along with appetizers like tempura cauliflower, and asado burgers alongside local Golan-brewed craft beer.
3 Eilot Street, Eilat
Off the beaten tourist track of Eilat is a cozy Little Brazil restaurant. Specializing in all-you-can-eat Brazilian Churrascaria-style meat that is slow chargrilled over an open flame on gigantic skewers, this eatery employs pasador waiters who flutter between the tables serving the freshly grilled meats throughout the meal.
Diners who keep their green medallion showing will continue to be offered portions of leg of lamb, chuck steak, maminha (tri-tip roast) and so on, while those who show their red medallion will be shown mercy, or at least a dessert menu, which includes Brigadier (Brazilian milk truffles)with caramelized banana and coconut ice cream, and freshly fried churros with dolce de leche dip.
4 Habarzel Street, Jaffa
Named after the city in Argentina’s Patagonia region most known for Andes mountain hiking, chocolates and wine, Butchery de Bariloche is a uniquely old-fashioned Argentinian steak house experience in Tel Aviv.
Sip on house wine and savor house-made chocolates, then visit the restaurant’s butcher to hand pick which cut of dry aged meat you’d like to dine on (including delicacies like sweetbreads, cuts of lamb and homemade sausages). Dessert’s got to be their homemade ice cream varieties in flavors like alfajores cookies and dulce de leche.
Artist Quarter, Ein Hod
A main reason for many to pay a visit to the artists village of Ein Hod on the Carmel coast, Dona Rosa restaurant has enjoyed a reputation for serving fine aged meats, Argentinian style, since 2003.
Inspired by the family matriarch who was known for serving food to the workers on her family farm in the Pampas of Argentina in the 1930s, the restaurant sits in an old Arab-style house adorned with pictures of Argentinian cowboys. The menu not only includes cuts of meat sold by weight and cooked over coals, but also empanadas, chorizo sausage and whole grilled fish.