Food markets in Israel have become a rather varied affair, ranging from traditional shuks to boutique food stalls and popups. What doesn’t vary, however, is that they all carry absolutely delicious fare, whether in the form of great fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, fun wine bars or fragrant spices.
Whatever form they take, they also provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to get a real taste of the country’s diversity – Ethiopian grain, Russian fish, Arab spreads, Druze bread, Moroccan sweets and on and on.
We highly recommend that you scroll down through the following list of our top food markets, and make sure to visit at least one when you’re next in the country. Don’t forget to come hungry.
1. Machane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem
The undisputed king of Israeli markets, and the inspiration behind countless dishes, cookbooks and even an award-winning Michelin restaurant chain, Machane Yehuda Market is like no other. This is the place to dive deep into delicious kubbeh soup, enjoy a craft beer or two and eat as many rugelach as you can. It’s also a great place to stock up on fresh spices and creamy tahini to take home with you.
2. Old City Market, Acre (Akko)
The Old City Market in this northwest port city is super attractive all year round, but particularly in the summer, when the shaded stone alleyways provide welcome relief from the blistering heat. Marvel at the fresh fish, fresh fruit and vegetables and delicious sweets that dot its winding paths. Pick and choose products for an ultimate picnic at the seaside.
3. Old City Market, Nazareth
Mixing old and new, holy and the everyday, the Old City Market in the largest Arab city in Israel is a great place to procure coffee and spices, and is also moments away from some of the world’s most significant churches. The whole city is a culinary treat, in fact, so we recommend starting at the market and working outward to enjoy the local Arab cuisine.
4. Talpiot Market, Haifa
Still somewhat grungy, Talpiot Market in Haifa is fast becoming a foodie destination. Aside from offering excellent produce, baked goods and fresh fish – usually at a better price than more popular markets – Talpiot is also home to a burgeoning restaurant scene that includes cocktail and wine bars, boutique knafeh, great pizza and fine dining, shuk-style.
5. Wadi Nisnas Market, Haifa
Wadi Nisnas is famous across Israel as the best place to get your hands on seasonal baladi (local) fruit and vegetables, as well as legendary falafel and a whole range of pastries, meats and coffees. It’s quite a tiny market, packed to the brim with goodness and reminiscent of what you imagine to be a traditional market, only so much better.
6. Tarshiha Market, Ma’alot Tarshiha
Tarshiha Market in the Galilean town of Ma’alot Tarshiha is open only on Saturdays, but the one-day market and its green surroundings make the trip north worthwhile. The market is famous for its olives, olive oils, foraged greens and good-quality fruit and vegetables. You can finish off all that healthiness with a generous portion of ice cream from the nearby and famous Buza, whose unexpected flavors also bring you a taste of the Galilee.
7, Ramla Market, Ramla
Ask any Israeli about the Ramla Market in the central city of the same name, and odds are that you’ll hear all about the Indian restaurant and Indian spice shop there. And for good reason, too, since they were among the first places to offer these delicious fares in a country sadly devoid of expansive Indian cuisine. Indian food aside, the place is full of hustle and bustle without many tourists, giving you a sneak peek at an ordinary – and we mean this in the very best way – market in Israel.
8. Hatikva Market, Tel Aviv
Until a few years ago, Hatikva Market in eastern Tel Aviv was rather like the one in Ramla, that is devoid of people from outside the area. But foodies in other parts of Tel Aviv and beyond slowly realized that it is a treasure trove of great produce, authentic Yemenite food, burekas of all kinds and grilled meat establishments, turning it into a must-stop tour in any stay in the city.
9. Hanamal (Port) Market, Tel Aviv
A world apart from Hatikvah Market, this upscale indoor market in the city’s northwest port is home to smart bakeries, coffeehouses, cheese and meat shops and a wine store. But it’s most interesting on Fridays, when small farmers from across the country set up stalls there, selling top-notch and often hard-to-find fresh produce. A stroll there is a great way to open the weekend and stock up for all the cooking or snacking ahead.
10. Levinsky Market, Tel Aviv
Recent years have seen Levinsky Market in South Tel Aviv become the hipster hotspot of the city. Great cafes, a tiny spot selling dazzling sparkling drinks and wine bars all live side-by-side with the traditional spice and condiment stores of the market, including ones selling special Persian wares. It’s a wonderful, even must-have, place to visit both during day and night for two completely different experiences, albeit bound together by that same shuk charm.
11. Carmel Market, Tel Aviv
Last but certainly not least is Tel Aviv’s famous Carmel Market next to the sea. Once you make your way through the throngs of tourists and stalls selling all kinds of unnecessary tchotchkes, you’ll be able to appreciate the great fruist and vegetables still hiding here, fabulous restaurants ranging from hole-in-the-wall to the finest of fine dining and pubs and bars bringing Israelis and visitors from all walks of life together.