Eilat's: An Authentic Date with Culinary Delights
עודכן: 20 בספט׳ 2020
The inviting beaches, the sense of freedom in the air and the flawless weather Eilat, Israel's southern resort city, offers appeals to tens of thousands of tourists who visit it every year. The city is a favorite especially for tourists seeking an escape from the harsh winter in their homelands, and its warm and fair weather is always welcoming to all
Traveling to a resort city always entails sampling a smorgasbord of culinary delights, and Eilat's hotels and world-class restaurant are sure to satisfy your every craving. But for those seeking the authentic experience, we thought we would recommend some local eateries – the places the residents frequent with family and friends. These popular spots await you in no other than Eilat's main street, Hatmarim Boulevard, not in the hotel district or near any of the usual tourist attractions.
Hatmarim Boulevard is the first main street to be built in Eilat, back in the 1950s and for years, it was one of the only main boulevards to grace the city, built as an oasis in the middle of the desert. Walking up and down the boulevard, you can still see some of the original homes standing proudly next to their contemporary counterparts and attesting to the strides the city has taken over the years, on all fronts.
This is the vibrant city center: Eilat's most successful mall stands at its entrance, not far from the city's main bus station and the now-closed local airport. The boulevard is lined with an eclectic array of stores, eateries and restaurants, some of which have been around since Eilat's inception in 1952.
Food-wise, the boulevard offers something for everyone. Omnivore, carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, if there is one thing we're sure of is that a stroll through Hatmarim Boulevard will not leave you hungry. So if you are looking for recommendations that will satisfy your appetite and give you a taste of authentic city life without breaking the budget, these are the places to visit.
Shall we begin?
Stepping away from the crowded beach and teeming tourist attractions you will find Omer's – a sandwich lovers' paradise. Hidden in an old building adjacent to a Yemeni synagogue, this is where Eilat's residents go when they are really hungry, knowing that chef Tal Hershkovitz's creations will surely put a smile on their face.
For several years now, Hershkovitz has been putting together tempting sandwiches of all kinds. The relatively easy part is choosing the bread, and diners can pick between soft pitas, prana bread, or sourdough bread. The hard part is choosing what goes in it: Will you go for the classic schnitzel, hamburger or kebab, or opt for one of the unique dishes, like overnight beef stew or the asado special. Throw in some onion rings or an order of potato/sweet potato fries and you have one of the most delicious and affordable meals in town.
A tip from the locals: Eilat may be a tourist destination, but if you want a bite out of one of the tastiest places in town, it's worth making your way from the hotel district and the promenade to the city center. The trip is definitely worth it, especially if you order the egg-entrecote sandwich.
Address: 83 Hatmarim Boulevard, Eilat
Link to Waze: Omer's
Business hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11:00-21:00. Closed on weekends.
The Blue Falafel Boutique
This is Eilat's oldest falafel stand and the story behind its inception is almost as enticing as the delicious items on the menu. This eatery was set up in a canteen erected by the military in the 1950s to offer soldiers arriving in the city free refreshments.
Over the years, the premises underwent several incarnations, housing a photography store, a watchmaker, a shoemaker, and a newspaper stand. In 1970 the Biton family, who immigrated from Morocco and operates the eatery to this day, made it into Eilat's most iconic falafel stand. As for the name – that was inspired by the building itself, which is covered in blue tiles.
Owner Itzik Biton says the recipe was created by his mother and it remains a family secret to this day. The menu offers the classic crispy deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas, a stunning veggie patty, Israeli street food staples such as shakshouka and sabich, and a delicious schnitzel, all made to order.
A tip from the locals: This is one of the locals' favorite places so don’t be alarmed by the line outside the door. The staff always works at record speed and you are always just a few minutes away from the best falafel around. If you look closely, you'll also see the attention paid to arranging your course, so that it stays juicy until the very last bite.
Address: 107 Hatmarim Boulevard, Eilat
Link to Waze: The Blue Falafel Boutique
Business hours: Sunday-Thursday 08:00-22:00, Friday 08:00-14:00. Closed on Saturday.
If you're looking for proof that Eilat is a draw for people from all over the world, look no further than "Il Pentolino," an Italian restaurant and American bagel bakery that offers a dining experience like no other.
Owner Ezra Avraham earned his bagel-baking stripes in London and after mastering this elusive art he returned to his hometown of Eilat and opened the Easy Bagels Bakery – right inside this Italian hotspot.
Diners can feast on a menu featuring fresh pasta that is a celebration of kosher dairy Italian food, with a bagel twist. Chef Jacob Alfasi runs an open kitchen that allows diners to see how the dishes are cooked; and the rich selection of pasta in all shapes and sizes, ciabattas, pizzas, salads, soups, and fish dishes, will make your head spin and your mouth water. And did we mention the amazing bagels?
The authentic menu includes many options for vegetarians and vegans alike, so no matter your preference, Il Pentolino has something delicious in store for you.
Hungry for more? Spice up your meal with the breathtaking views of the desert mountains that can be seen all around the restaurant. Diners have a choice between indoors and outdoors seating, which is one of the reasons Il Pentolino, whose name means "little pot," is a favorite among the locals.
A tip from the locals: Have you heard about the bagels? Order them with butter and cream cheese because that's all they need to go from scrumptious to unbelievable. Follow that with the famous four-cheese ravioli. Pure pleasure!
Address: 112 Hatmarim Boulevard, Eilat
Link to Waze: Il Pentolino
Business hours: Sunday-Thursday 07:30-23:00, Friday 07:30-15:00, Saturday – sundown to midnight.
The Wide Heart
The Wide Heart ("Ha'lev Ha'rachav") steakhouse is nothing short of an Eilat institution that rose from the humblest of beginnings.
In 1978, as Israeli and Egyptian leaders were toiling over what would become a historic peace treaty, one that would eventually turn the small blue-collar border town of Eilat into one of the hottest domestic and international tourist destinations around, local resident Momi Bendahan decided to open a falafel stand.
The place was made famous by its 30(!)-spices shawarma special, as well as for the fact that it served diners an empty pita pocket and allowed them to fill it to their hearts' content. The eatery was nameless for the first few years of its existence, and its name was eventually chosen by its patrons, who were inspired by the owner's generosity.
The Wide Heart offers a simple setting and hearty meals. Everything is made fresh daily, and their take on hummus, tahini, and zhoug – an extra-hot sauce originating in Yemeni cuisine – are a must, as is the fragrant falafel that you won't be able to stop eating.
A tip from the locals: The elderly woman working the cash register is the family matriarch, Batsheva. Nothing gives her more pleasure than seeing the hustle and bustle of diners who frequent the family business established over 40 years ago.
Address: 41 Hatmarim Boulevard, Eilat
Link to Waze: The Wide Heart
Business hours: Sunday-Thursday 10:00-23:00, Friday 11:00-14:30. Closed on Saturdays.
At the heart of a fairly mundane commercial and residential area in Eilat is a magical garden with a few tables and chairs. Across from them, behind a large window, sits an ancient flour mill and when you approach the nearby door, you are immediately enveloped by one of the most comforting, tantalizing and uplifting aromas known to man: Freshly baked bread.
Welcome to the Broitman Bakery, a fantastic little bakery that lets you see the process of baking the sourdough breads and pastries as you sip some excellent coffee and gobble up one of the delicious and unique sandwiches offered on the menu.
Owner Yuval Ziv comes from a long line of bakers. So long, in fact, that his grandmother, an outstanding cook in her own right, cooked for Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir! In Yiddish, "broit" means "bread" so the place is literally named "Bread-man."
The designer bakery offers mini sourdough bread, an array of rustic rye breads, chia bread, and cherry tomato and Kalamata olives bread, as well as brioche pastries. All baked goods are sugar- and food colors-free, and are all made from natural ingredients.
The locals like to come here to relax in the garden, among the fig trees, tomato and spice bushes, and grapevines, as they indulge in a cup of coffee and the highly recommended tuna or egg salad sandwiches. Yummy!
A tip from the locals: On Thursday evenings, starting at 18:00, the bakery hosts an "aperitivo," a magical Italian-style event complete with wine, tapas laden with fresh produce, and a fun, festive atmosphere.
Address: 17 Almogim St., Eilat
Link to Waze: Broitman Bakery
Business hours: Sunday-Thursday 07:00-22:00, Friday 07:00-15:00. Closed on Saturday.