More mysterious than hummus, falafel and shakshuka combined, sabich is taking over the Israeli streets. Dare we say it’s the next big thing?
Classic sabich (pronounced “sah-beekh”) contains cooked potato, fried eggplant and slow-stewed haminado (cholent egg), all stuffed in a pita with some salad, doused with tahini and pickled mango sauce (amba) and topped with chopped parsley.
The final product really is the sum of its parts, and everyone has a unique spin on the original.
Sabich, originally a Shabbat morning meal for Iraqi Jews, at some point became the portable lunch that Israelis are crazy for. Traditionalists take theirs only in a pita, while many restaurants offer anything from deconstructed sabich on a plate to “sabich bowls” and sabich inspired salad.
This round-up of the best spots all over the country (in no particular order), blessed by local foodie professionals, will let you enjoy sabich no matter where you go.
- Sabich in a bowl: Sabich Sameach (Happy Sabich), Agas Street (Galil Center, in the Bank Leumi complex), Rosh Pina
Walk into this restaurant in the northern town of Rosh Pina and you may just stumble upon an impromptu Chasidic live music jam. Aside from the upbeat spiritual vibes you’ll also run into a selection of fresh sabich meals.
One of our favorites is “sabich niguv,” which includes all the elements of a stellar sabich, freshened up with the addition of baked eggplant and fresh parsley, served in one wipe-able bowl. Sop up this sabich-hummus hybrid with the fresh pita bread that accompanies it.
- Modern sabich: HaKosem (The Magician), 1 Shlomo HaMelech St., Tel Aviv
The sabich at HaKosem in central Tel Aviv really is magically delicious. Made unique by slices of eggplant that are lightly coated in flour before frying, meticulously stacked salads, and workers who delicately assemble your sabich in a surprisingly sterile way, it is a true treat. “I like that they sneak a falafel ball in it,” says Tel Aviv foodie Keren Brown.
- The Jerusalem favorite: Sabich Aricha, 83 Agripas St.
What is a person to do in central Jerusalem during lunchtime? Head over to what Jerusalemites agree is the best sabich in town, of course.
Says private chef and shuk foodie guide extraordinaire Bracha Arnold: “They use high-quality ingredients and make their sabich with care for the dish and ingredients in it. I also like the atmosphere; everyone is really friendly, and it’s a very homey and comfortable place to be.”
Wash down your Sabich Aricha with Shapiro craft beer from the nearby city of Beit Shemesh.
- Sabich salad: Mifgash HaOsher, 105 King George St., Tel Aviv
With sabich having its moment in the sun, you had to know that someone would make it into a salad. Trendy Mifgash HaOsher, the brain child of Chefs Bentzi Arbel and Omri Kravitz, pairs the obligatory fried eggplant with curried chickpeas, fresh vegetables, fluffy bulgur wheat, a dark stewed egg, a healthy smear of sour labaneh, and a few falafel balls for good measure.
Also out of this fast-food haven is cauliflower sabich, a version that replaces the eggplant with curry-spiced fried chunks of the meaty white vegetable. This was nominated “dish of the week” by Time Out Tel Aviv in August 2016.
- Gourmet sabich: Hummus Bardicef, 1 Wedgewood Boulevard, Haifa Carmel Center
Come to this Chasidic hummus joint and local favorite, and you’ll get more than just great hummus and fresh inventive salads. One of the restaurant’s most popular items is its gourmet sabich.
Made up of baked eggplant, cubed potatoes, chickpeas and tangy preserved lemon, served on a plate on a bed of light creamy whipped tahini, it will guarantee you a pass from the usual sabich-eating blunders of sauces running down your arm, and bits of salad crashing down to the sidewalk.
This sabich takes the freshness quotient up a notch, and elevates the classic dish to appropriate date-food status– a sabich that this Haifa-based foodie can get behind.
- Sabich with a history: Beit HaFul (The Bean House), 55 Herzl St., Old City, Beersheva
A Beersheva establishment since 1952, this fourth-generation family-run hummus joint has a famously secret recipe for mouthwatering sabich, made with care and topped with the house brand of tahini.
Megan Turner, an American transplant who helps introduce other immigrants to the culture in this southern desert city, says Beit HaFul’s Egyptian inspired recipe “is to die for!” and we tend to agree.
- Sabich fit for a king: Sabich HaMifanek (The Pampered Sabich), 13 HaBanim St., Hod HaSharon
If you really want to pamper yourself, head over to Sabich HaMifanek and ask owner Moshe — dubbed the “king of sabich” — to make you one of his sandwiches. Featuring eggs that have been slow-cooked according to the tradition, fried eggplant handled with a light hand, and fresh salads, this sabich is the crowning jewel of this central Israeli town.
- Ultra-healthy sabich: Panda Pita, 17 Yom Tov St., Tel Aviv
Leave it to hipsters to update a classic, and have crowds going crazy for it. Newly established Panda Pita in the authentic Yemenite neighborhood of Kerem HaTeimanim, adjacent to Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel, offers a healthy, yet no less addictive, alternative to the original fat-laden sabich.
Professional foodie and food tour operator Tahlia Berger says: “They make a mean sabich comprised of steamed eggplant and grated egg, plus all the other yummy components, just lightened up. It’s super fresh and delicious.”
Pita Panda is open only on Fridays for now. We hope it becomes a permanent fixture on the Tel Aviv food scene, for all of our sakes.
- Sabich with a show: HaSabich Shel Oved (Oved’s Sabich), 7 Sirkin St., Givatayim
Calling all eggplant enthusiasts, who like a dose of local charm with their sabich: HaSabich Shel Oved in Givatayim is what you have been looking for.
Here, customers enjoy the friendly atmosphere while owner Oved makes the mundane task of stuffing a pita into a performance. But the sandwich itself still steals the show.
Ynet writer and food personality Lin Levy loves it for a different reason: “The pitas at Oved’s sabich stand are the perfect vessel for all the elements of the sabich to come together. The bread is relatively thin, allowing you to get a bit of all the components with each bite.”
With all the classic elements done well, HaSabich Shel Oved has been dubbed a must-visit for tourists by the locals who love it.
- Sabich V’Falafel Eyal, 58 Moriah Boulevard, Haifa
Created to fill a need in a city that was at the time lacking in sabich options, Eyal’s famous sabich stand in upper Haifa satisfies the cravings of his line of regular customers, who surround the stand come lunchtime.
A combination of perfected individual recipes and secret spice blends, paired with fresh, handmade ingredients, it is the natural choice for anyone passing through Haifa, and a personal favorite.