In Israel, a mention of the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh immediately conjures images of hummus. And for good reason.
Located off the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, it is a favorite spot with Israelis looking for a top-quality meal that often involves the Middle East’s famous chickpea spread.
And yet, Abu Ghosh is also home to plenty of other culinary delights. If you visit this village dotted with mosques, churches and craft shops, you will not lack for great places to eat.
Read on for our recommendations.
The Lebanese Restaurant
88 Hashalom Road
Possibly Abu Ghosh’s most famous institution, the Lebanese Restaurant was founded in 1994 and serves amazing hummus, labneh, salads, falafel and grilled meats. This is what most people imagine when they envision lunch at an Arab-Israeli restaurant.
“Hummus is the No. 1 favorite, there’s no argument about that. And our stuffed vine leaves and stuffed chicken are also very popular – as are our delicious salads,” owner Fauzi Ibrahim tells ISRAEL21c.
The restaurant is immensely popular, and gets crowded on Saturdays and holidays. However, it is very large and service is quick, meaning that you won’t have to wait in line for too long.
If you do want to skip the lines, you can do like many locals and opt for the takeaway option to be enjoyed in one of the many forests or parks in the area.
We personally recommend the mint and garlic labneh strained cheese, the hummus topped with cinnamon-spiced meat and the aforementioned vine leaves.
“I have the hummus every single day,” admits Ibrahim. “If I don’t eat it, I feel as if something is missing from my body.”
56 Hashalom Road
At a first glance, Hisham Coffee seems like a standard little grocery store. Those in the know, however, stop there for the specialty roast coffee that has been delighting connoisseurs for over 70 years.
Visitors to the store can choose from a variety of roasts, either in bean or ground form, and enjoy traditional Arab coffee.
“The most popular option is the house blend. People come from very far for it,” proprietor Hisham Ibrahim tells ISRAEL21c. This house blend includes a few types of beans, to which slightly burned beans are added for extra flavor and strength.
“We also have coffee with cardamon, and what’s special about it is that the cardamon is blended together with the coffee beans instead of being added afterward. We have another black coffee that undergoes a lighter roast and which has a rich crema. It can be cooked on top of a gas stove, or prepared by simply adding boiling water,” he says.
“Finally, we have a coffee that’s not traditional black coffee, but an Italian espresso blend that can be used in a macchinetta for an espresso or americano coffee.”
And if Hisham’s coffee tastes familiar, it’s probably because he provides the coffee for most restaurants in the village.
The Fruit and Vegetable Center
21 Hashalom Road
If incredible fresh produce is your thing, look no further than the Fruit and Vegetable Center. The large store is packed to the brim with first-rate fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts, candies and a well-stocked Italian aisle.
Established some 30 years ago by the father of current proprietor Rushdie Abu Ghosh, the store is always packed with people looking for the very best seasonal produce.
“Our most popular items are the seasonal ones. Cherries in the spring, strawberries in the winter, grapes and watermelon in the summer,” Abu Ghosh tells ISRAEL21c.
The store also sells seasonal foraged greens that are not easy to find elsewhere, such as fresh vine leaves and a local watercress called gargir.
If you come early in the morning, stock up on the delicious kras — homemade flatbread pies with greens, baked by Abu Ghosh’s sister. They usually sell out quickly. And no matter what time of day you arrive, be sure to grab a box of marzipan – it’s the absolute best I have ever tried.
84 Hashalom Road
Established in 2017 by Hashlamon and sesame seed importer Murad Juolani, the little store has become a must-visit. The sesame seeds come from Sudan and India and are toasted in the back room before being funnelled through a huge press.
The halva made from these seeds is nothing like the often cloying and sticky commercial versions.
“Our most popular items are pistachio halva, a halva flavored with citrus peels, and our white tahini,” Hashlamon tells ISRAEL21c. I would add the walnut and cinnamon halva to the top of the list.
Like in an ice cream store, visitors can get free tastes of the flavors, and the service is friendly and personal.
The Village Sweets
67 Hashalom Road
I spent a large portion of my teen years at The Village Sweets Café, eating endless baklava and knafeh and guzzling down the refreshing iced lemon-mint drink.
Owned by brothers Ibrahim and Amjed Abu Ghosh, the veteran establishment was opened 34 years ago, and six years ago moved to its current location in the center of the village.
“Our most popular item is the knafeh, of course,” says Ibrahim, referring to the Arab dessert made of thin pastry noodles or semolina resting atop tangy crumbled cheese, served hot with a good measure of sweet syrup.
And if you’ve previously tried knafeh and found it too sweet, worry not – here it is only faintly sweet, which unfortunately enables you to consume enormous amounts.
Other highlights include the delicious pistachio baklava with a hint of rosewater, as well as the pistachio bird nests that taste even better than they look.
Closed on Sundays, The Village Sweets caters mainly to local Arabs and Jews, but Ibrahim says online recommendations bring in visitors from afar.
All the pastries in the café are fresh and homemade, and vegans will appreciate that the baklava is plant-based.
As for Ibrahim’s personal favorites? “Baklava, of course, and our semolina knafeh rolls.”