Bread and baked goods are an integral part of the ever-evolving Israeli menu. Traditional and modern, sweet and savory, Israel’s bakeries are as much creating new standard as they are preserving time-tested traditions. This list is by no means exhaustive, but a great checklist for your upcoming trip, not to mention, some of my absolute favorite spots.
Lachmanina, Tel Aviv
Until this bakery opened up shop across from Habima Square, you had to be in the know to find its goods hidden away in central Tel Aviv. It is best known for its “nelson” bread, which is dense, chewy and studded with nuts and seeds — you’ll feel so virtuous eating a slice you won’t think twice about slathering it with creme fraiche and smoked salmon.
Lachmanina has two locations in Tel Aviv, details on its website.
Adon Shifon, Tel Aviv
Adon Shifon translates to “Mr. Rye,” and the man of grain in question is Oren Hajaj, a former architect who switched jobs to become a baker. Not only has he championed the use of rye and other ancient grains in his breads, Hajaj has set out to ensure you eat your vegetables: Stop by the bakery on Fridays and holiday eves for loaves infused with spinach, sweet potatoes or the popular roasted beet. Soft enough to tear it apart by hand, pick up an extra loaf for the walk back home.
Le Moulin, Tel Aviv
Riding the most recent wave of French Jews making aliyah, this bakery joins a number of new French-owned/inspired restaurants on Bograshov Street. Le Moulin is a block from the bustling Dizengoff Center, and I would stake my reputation on its crisp baguettes and croissants as being the best in the city. Get there early for the heavenly smell of fresh baked goods, and the few available tables from which to spend a morning drinking coffee and sampling each and every one of Le Moulin’s baked creations.
72 Bograshov Street, Tel Aviv
Bakery, Tel Aviv
Supplying the baked goods to the prestigious Hotel Montefiore, Delicatessen, Brasserie, Coffee Bar, as well as their own eponymous storefronts across the city, Bakery is the hearth of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. Their latest outpost teams up with the neighboring ice cream parlor to ensure no baked good goes unadorned with the summer necessity. Show off your Tel Aviv street smarts by stopping at one of the branches an hour before closing, and be rewarded with “Buy One Get One” of their freshest offerings.
Bakery has five locations throughout Tel Aviv. Details on its website.
Invited to Shabbat dinner in Jerusalem, and tasked with bringing challah? Do as the locals, and stock up at at Pe’er. Soft and cake-like, its whole-wheat challah is outstanding while its sweet challah will leave you greedily finishing the compact loaf before leaving the storefront.
33 Eitz Chaim Street, Jerusalem
Ja’far Sweets (Confectionery Jafar), Jerusalem
The Old City has no shortage of places to enjoy mouth-watering desserts, such as the apple strudel at the Austrian Hospice or the unique mutabak and anise sticks at Zalatimo’s. But my absolute top choice is the knafeh (an Arab pastry) at Ja’far Sweets. Like baklava and pita, knafeh is a baked good that everyone in the Levant claims to have invented. Warm, chewy, and dripping with butter and syrup, the fluorescent orange slices of goodness turn the bakery’s black-and-white formica tables into a multi-sensory indulgence.
40 Beit HaBad St, Jerusalem
Al Alsadaqa Sweets, Nazareth
Arabic for “friendship,” Al Asadqa is worth a trip to Israel’s largest Arab-majority city for coffee and a variety of sweet goods swelling with honey, nuts, and warmth. Expand your palate beyond the pistachio-filled baklava and try the basbousa, a semolina cake drenched in perfumed syrup and studded with blanched almonds.
Pronounced: a-LEE-yuh for synagogue use, ah-lee-YAH for immigration to Israel, Origin: Hebrew, literally, “to go up.” This can mean the honor of saying a blessing before and after the Torah reading during a worship service, or immigrating to Israel.