The growing artisan restaurant scene in Jerusalem opened its doors to the world recently in the fourth annual Open Restaurants Festival. Exploring the city’s comprehensive food, wine and brewing scene, the event looks to draw together everything culinary with tech, art and music in the hope of establishing Jerusalem’s own brand rival to the likes of SXSW.
Spreading across the breadth of the ancient city, Open Restaurants Jerusalem invited the region’s most accomplished and innovative chefs to share their own personal takes on Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine. Starting with a buffet tasting deep within the Cave of Zedekiah near the Jaffa Gate, the festival schedule included foodie-friendly events at local hot spots stretching from the city’s outlying suburbs to the heart of the Old City.
Since much of the region’s fair historically relies heavily on what today is considered vegetarian or vegan cooking, many of the sample menus explored meatless variations on standards such as hummus or falafel. However, looking to vary experience, festival attendees had a chain to explore everything from an outdoor winery to a French Patisserie hidden away in a Jerusalem industrial park run by Paris-trained Chef Confectioner David Laor.
The featured restaurants highlighted during the festival included the fresh meat and fish of Satya from Chef Ilan Grossi, the outdoor sandwich cafe of Rachel in the Avenue from Chef Rachel Ben Elul, the combined Parisian brasserie and Mediterranean touch of Medita and the wholesome Kosher dishes of Olive and Fish.
Finally, a day/night tour of the Mahane Yehuda Market lets festival-goers explore the ripe tradition of Israeli street food and ingredients.
Planning for the fifth edition of Open Restaurants is already underway with efforts aimed at further blending the constantly evolving tech and arts scene with the proud Israeli menus.