There doesn’t seem to be a spot in Israel today without a food cart.
After starting out as a solution to eating out safely and getting some fresh air during the pandemic, mobile food options have become a permanent fixture in areas ranging from a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean to a grove of trees at the edge of a kibbutz.
These days, with no lockdown limitations and a diversity of options, Israelis can pinpoint a food cart or food truck wherever they find themselves or according to the type of menu they prefer.
The best way to do this is through social media pages such as Coffee Trail (Facebook, mostly in Hebrew), where food cart fans enthusiastically share their favorite find and even give tips on other activities available in the area. The Coffee Trail website lists which ones are kosher, open on weekends, have Wi-Fi or overlook a special view.
Tripping in Israel (Facebook, in English) is another place to search for food cart recommendations.
Here are five of ISRAEL21c’s top choices:
You can eat traditional feijoada (black bean meat stew) over rice, acaraje (crispy bean and onion cakes fried in dende oil), pao de quejo (cheese balls), coxinha (chicken croquettes) and drink a caipirinha (a cocktail of cachaça, limes and sugar).
Owner Janine Ferreira Asulin moved from Salvador, Bahia to Israel 18 years ago. After the pandemic put an end to her job in inbound tourism, she decided to open her food cart, which is painted in blue, yellow and green, the colors of the Brazilian flag.
The Boteco Bar cart is set in a grove of trees at the edge of the kibbutz where Asulin lives with her Israeli-born husband. It has become a meeting point for Brazilians in Israel and for Israelis from the surrounding areas of Binyamina and Givat Ada. There is often live Brazilian music with professional samba dancers enticing the crowd in join in.
Ramota sits under shady ficus tree trees outside the community center on Moshav Ramot Hashavim, between Hod HaSharon and Ra’anana.
Even though each of the three partners in this food cart is only 24 years old, they chose to decorate with old vinyl records, postcards and other nostalgic paraphernalia in keeping with the atmosphere of this well-established village founded by German émigrés in 1933. Ben Kushelevich, one of the owners, tells how the trio, friends from high school, had to shelve their plans of a post-army trip when the pandemic struck. Instead, they opened a food cart with the help of some entrepreneurial relatives.
Ramota serves gourmet sandwiches such as camembert with pear, walnuts and honey; as well as salad bowls and juices (beetroot/apple or celery/ginger and shakes). Soft-serve ice cream and pizza are favorites with the kids who come with their parents after activities at the community center or from the adjacent playground.
The partners also give space to wares for sale from other local businesses. When we visited, there were wooden serving boards from a nearby carpentry workshop, potted plants from a nursery and mangoes from an area farm.
The Jachburg food truck parks every Saturday morning on the grass by the playground in Sde Warburg, a village near Kfar Saba. The specialty of Liraz Eliyahu is handmade jachnoon – the Yemenite bread eaten with a hardboiled egg, grated tomatoes and zhug, a fiery Yemenite condiment.
People with a gluten intolerance can pre-order spelt jachnoon. The menu also has malawach (another Yemenite savory pastry) and malabi, a milk pudding topped with sweet rose-scented syrup, shredded coconut and nuts.
4. Most unusual
Greenbus on Moshav Yogev in the Jezreel Valley is a converted Egged bus parked by an asparagus field.
Owner Eyal Heidemann serves pizza, focaccia, salads and stuffed baked potatoes. On Friday mornings you can get an Israeli breakfast with shakshuka (eggs in tomato sauce).
Heidemann is one of Israel’s veteran food truck owners, as he started the business in 2017 after closing down his pub. He got the idea of a food bus after friends told him that Egged buses are taken off the road after 15 years in service and put up for sale.
Most of the seating at Greenbus is outdoors, but there are also a few tables and chairs inside the bus. Other attractions nearby a circus school, which gives performances, and the Adad spring about 1.5 kilometers away.
5. Food and art
Owner Maya Yosefi, a professional chef, set up the food cart six months into corona and it’s clear this is a foodie experience. She serves up a buttery croissant oozing with pistachio cream and garnished with berries.
There is canelé, a French pastry flavored with rum and vanilla with a soft custard center and a golden caramelized crust.
The menu also contains acai and spirulina bowls, tapioca puddings, sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread, salads and pizza.
After having something to eat you can visit the gallery in the arts complex alongside, which also hosts workshops, courses and interesting events.