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Chow Down: Epic Eating In Israel

The smell of scorched char purls up from the grill. It penetrates the senses with a heady mix of smoke and tar. This is a good sign that a kitchen is opening for its first ticket order. Our little group of bloggers gets fired up, as we sniff and eat our way through Israel.

As far as falafels and shawarmas go, this little gem of a place on the southeast corner of Sheinkin and Allenby Streets, aptly named Sheinkin Shawarma, can deliver the goods! Not only is this falafel shop a stone's throw from Carmel Market, as well as the Tuesday and Friday street fair of Nahalat Binyamin, it is also nearby the indie stores of fashionable Sheinkin Street. The service at this place is nifty like a sideshow, but the real attractions are the hot balls of falafel and the succulent slices of lamb stuffed into your paunchy pita.

Sheinkin Shawarma - 2 Sheinkin Street, Tel Aviv, Israel, Tel. No. 03-5252704

While still in Tel Aviv, our group is treated to sophisticated Country Mediterranean fare at Kimmel restaurant. The tasting menu includes starters of cured salmon with dill and lemon; aubergine with pesto, sheep's cheese, olive tapenade, and cream sauce; mushroom stuffed with goose liver in plum and fig sauce; mushroom risotto with shaved Parmesan; sheep's cheese ravioli with sage, cream, sweet potato, and mushroom; chicken liver pate in Calvados, honey, and spiced carrot jam; beef carpaccio. The mains include: ostrich filet grilled with lemon and garlic; chicken in teriyaki, sesame and eggplant on fettuccine; beef filet in ginger sauce. The desserts, served with either coffee or mint tea, are as decadent as the rest of the menu.

Kimmel - 6 HaShahar, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, Tel. No. 03-5105204

In the ancient port of Yafo (Jaffa), it is a pilgrimage to Dr. Shakshuka, an authentic eatery that comes highly recommended by Food & Wine magazine. Of course, this is shakshuka mecca--home of the traditional Israeli breakfast dish of poached eggs! We can't resist hovering over fiery pans, as the expert cook artfully cracks eggs into a tomato inferno. But when the skillets are laid on the table, we eagerly sop our crusty bread into the communal red mush, which happens to be superb!

Dr. Shakshuka - 3 Beit Eshel Street, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Tel. No. 03-6822842

The Formica tables and plastic chairs at Abu Shukri restaurant may be a bit tired, but the jovial atmosphere keeps this place humming all day long. No doubt that the kebabs and falafels here are spledid, but it's their hummus that takes the cake! Whether or not you get the proverbial menu from the brisk servers, the staples that should be on your table are hummus with whole chickpeas in olive oil or hummus with fresh-roasted pine nuts (which is the best I've had!). Don't forget to ask the guys to bring you a bowl of their spiced tomato salsa (yummy)! After you have satiated yourself, you can form your opinion and see whether it agrees with the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and even Playboy, naming Abu Shukri as one of Jerusalem's top restaurants.

Abu Shukri - 63 Al Wad Road (corner Via Dolorosa), Jerusalem, Tel. No. 02-6271538

*Read my fellow blogger Janelle Nanos' take on Israel's most popular egg dish at National Geographic's Intelligent Traveler blog.

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Chow Down: Epic Eating In Israel + trip