The Uniqueness of Israel
Latin Food in Israel
When you think about food in Israel, it is highly unlikely that Latin food will spring to mind. However, thanks to increased immigration from countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina, you can now find some excellent and authentic Latin food right across the country.
Those who are based in Tel Aviv and want some Mexican flavour should head to Booth #36 at the Carmel Market. You will find tacos, nachos, mole and flan, together with Mexican football culture, resulting in a delicious and enjoyable time. It is a family run place and very small; however, it is definitely worth stopping by for lunch one day.
If you are spending your gap year in Jerusalem don’t worry as you can head to Argento Empanadas in the Machane Yehuda Market. This fast-food empanada stall is an excellent place to grab something to eat while shopping. Chef Lucas Zitrinovich opened it in celebration of his Argentinian roots. You will find handmade empanadas including spicy smoked chicken with cilantro and lemon, Ras-el-hanout rubbed lamb with peanuts and dates, and a vegetarian option with chard, mushrooms and smoked pumpkin.
Also in Jerusalem is Tacos Luis on Shlomtziyon Hamalka Street, right in the centre of town. There you will find some excellent kosher Mexican food such as tamales, chilaquiles and tostadas. The place makes the corn tortillas right in front of you and these are then used for tacos such as fried fish, carnitas, carne asada, and a kosher al pastor roasted on a spit.
Back in Tel Aviv, you can head to Arepas on Herzl Street in Florentin. A group of friends from Venezuela who were feeling homesick started what became one of the busiest food stalls in the Carmel Market. They have now moved to a larger location in Florentin and have expanded beyond the arepas that they became known for. You can now enjoy Venezuelan empanadas, patacones (fried plantains), and cachapa (corn pancake) topped with variations such as salty white cheese and goose breast. They also offer a gluten-free menu as well as various Venezuelan style drinks.
If you are spending some time in Eilat then you can head to a small restaurant called Little Brazil. The place specialises in all you can eat Brazilian Churrascaria style meat that is slowly grilled over an open flame on large skewers. The restaurant uses pasador waiters who go from table to table serving the freshly grilled meats throughout the meal. You can enjoy lamb, cuck steak, maminha, and more, followed by deserts including Brigadier (Brazilian milk truffles) with caramelised bananas and coconut ice cream, fresh churros, and more.
Back in the Machne Yehuda Market in Jerusalem is Pepitos, Latin Street Food. It serves up a variety of dishes including kosher arepas, empanadas, and more. It is owned by a married couple from Columbia and Venezuela, meaning the food is certainly authentic, and they also serve a number of meaty deli sandwiches served on ciabatta or tortilla. You will also find options such as a chorizo salad, yucca chips, and a classic Cuban mojito.
In short, you don’t have to spend your gap year eating falafel, shawarma, sabich and shakshuka, you can also enjoy some authentic and excellent Latin food as well.