Gluten Free Israel

Nov 22, 2020

Here at Pomegranate, for better or worse, we have a wealth of knowledge about living and travelling Israel gluten free.  Not just one, but two of our longest standing office team, have children who are celiac, so at least a couple of us live the reality of Gluten Free Israel on a daily basis.  The good news is that with just a little bit of knowledge, Israel is fairly easy to travel gluten free.  And combined with our complimentary concierge service for all Pomegranate clients, it's a doddle!

Touring

Please let us know well ahead of time if one of your party is gluten free, or whether there are any other allergies or dietary restrictions in your group (our booking form has a place for this information!).  Our guides will then be fully briefed and will ensure that there are suitable places for you to stop for lunches and refreshments.  Lunches while touring are usually a casual affair which fit in with the touring schedule as there is simply so much to see and do in Israel, so your guide is likely to find you laid back cafes or even market street food lunches which suit your dietary needs.  Of course, if longer, more formal GF lunches are important to you, just let us know and this is something we can schedule around ahead of time.

Hotels 

Nearly all the hotels we work with are able to provide excellent gluten free breakfasts, and our operations team will be more than happy to coordinate this with the hotels ahead of time.  For example, see pictured one of our celiac Pomegranate children enjoying a fabulous 100% GF breakfast at The David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem.  She is enjoying pancakes, fresh fruit and kiddie cereals – she was also served yogurt and omelette – needless to say she was overwhelmed by choice, felt thoroughly indulged, and didn’t finish half of it!  Again, it is important that we know about your requirements well ahead of time so we can fully brief the hotels, and arrange a meeting between yourself and the hotel chefs at check-in.  The hotels also usually ask that you phone down to the breakfast area half an hour ahead of arriving there so that they can prepare your GF meal in a timely fashion.

Gluten Free Breakfast at The David Citadel Hotel

Restaurants

Restaurants fall within three categories:  (1) those which are 100% gluten free (mostly in the Tel Aviv area), (2) those which are not 100% gluten free but have dedicated gluten free menus or gluten free options clearly marked on the menu, and (3) those without a specific gluten free offering but which can prepare gluten free food upon request.

100% Gluten Free restaurants:

– Gluteria (Arieh Dissentchik St 5, Tel Aviv-Yafo):  Located outside of central Tel Aviv, but not too far in a cab, this is a casual cafe/ restaurant serving excellent pizza, pasta, schnitzel, salads and more.  They also have what are probably the best GF cinnamon buns in the world (see cover image!).

– Lelo (Hei be-Iyar St 12):  Located in central North Tel Aviv, this is a great coffee shop-restaurant serving delicious borekas (salty pastries), pizzas, pastas and more.

– Arepa’s:  Venezualan street food located in the Carmel Market – delicious!

Restaurants with dedicated Gluten Free menu or clearly marked menu:

Tel Aviv

Street food:

– Johnny’s Falafel (Tchernikhovski St 2) – falafel stand in central Tel Aviv

– Pizza Garage (HaHashmonaim St 96, inside TLV Fashion Mall) – dedicated oven for GF pizzas, central Tel Aviv, located in a mall so not the most scenic, but a good fix if you’re craving pizza

– Bretonne Creperie (Ibn Gvirol 52) – savoury and sweet crepes, street food style, central North Tel Aviv

– Golda Ice cream (Olei Zion 9, Ben Yehuda 110, Jabotinsky 110, Suzanne Delal Centre/ Neve Tzedek, Dizengof 245, HaYarkon163 and more) – Golda ice cream chain is one of the best in Israel, and has plenty of GF options.  Please check in each individual store, but in our experience they strictly use separate scoops for each ice cream flavour which means no cross-contamination.  They also have a fabulous frozen yogurt where you can pile on as many toppings as you would like, and if you ask them they will give you toppings from new bags sealed inside their store cupboards rather than from the display which is subject to cross-contamination.  Please also remember to ask the servers to change their gloves before serving you.

Casual:

– Giraffe (Ibn Gvirol 49) – family friendly, relaxed Asian restaurant serving various noodle and rice dishes and sushi with a wide selection of clearly marked GF dishes, central North Tel Aviv

– Moses Burger (Rothschild Boulevard 35) – well know burger chains with good GF options including buns and dedicated GF fryers for french fries (please always double check about the dedicated fryer when in the restaurant)

– Susu & Sons (Dizzengoff 166, & Hertzl 6) – another well know burger chains with good GF options including buns and dedicated GF fryers for french fries (please always double check about the dedicated fryer when in the restaurant)

– Mexicana (Bogroshov 7) – Mexican food, corn tortillas, nachos, salads and more, all clearly marked on menu

– Cafe Xoho (Gordon 17) – sandwiches, salads, GF options clearly marked on menu

Atmospheric:

– Meat:  Hudson – entire meat lovers menu (in the area of Ramat HaHayil, a business district outside city centre but not far in a cab)

– Mediterranean:  Cafe Yaffo (Olei Zion 11) – atmospheric restaurant in Jaffa, great for dinner, meat fish and vegetarian main dishes and delicious deserts

Jerusalem

Street food:

– Ayesha Falafel (HaTapuach 11) – street food falafel stand in the Mahane Yehuda market

– Pepitos (Agripas 117) – Latin American street food in the Mahane Yehuda market with clearly marked GF options on menu

– Tacos Luis (Queen Shlomzion Street 11), Mexican fast food joint, gluten free corn tortillas

– Golda Ice cream (Alrov Boulevard – Mamilla, Agripas 72), please refer to comments above in Tel Aviv section

Casual:

– The Quarter Cafe (Tiferet Yisrael 11,Old City), overlooking the Old City, buffet style restaurant but well used to catering GF

– Cafe Rimon (Yitzhak Kariv 8, Mamilla Promenade), café serving GF pasta and toasts

– Tmol Shilshom (Yo’el Moshe Salomon St 5), classic Jerusalem bookshop and café with plenty of GF options clearly marked on the menu

Atmospheric:

– Adom (David Remez 4, Old Train Station), meat and Mediterranean brasserie able to cater GF

– Jacko’s (Agripas 74), fun meat and Mediterranean brasserie in Mahane Yehuda market area able to cater GF

North & South

North

– Marinado (Kibbutz Ein Gev, Sea of Galilee) – meat restaurant with clearly marked GF options.

– Elements Cafe (Kikar HaMeginim 5, Zfat) – Vegetarian and 100% GF café serving pizzas, pastas, salads etc (reservations required at least one day in advance)

– Uri Buri (HaHagana Street, Acre) – One of the best fish restaurants in the country.

– Helena (Caesarea Port) – upscale and delicious fish restaurant with plenty of clearly marked GF options on menu

South

– Hotels in the Dead Sea and Mitzpe Ramon areas are able to cater gluten free when provided advanced notice

– Me Casa Italian restaurant in the Judean desert, near the Dead Sea, is able to provide GF pasta, advance notice recommended

Restaurants able to cater for Gluten Free:

The majority of restaurants are able to cater for gluten free, but it is always worth checking options ahead of time.  Our operations team are happy to phone restaurants on your behalf to specifically check what is possible.  This means with a little bit of planning you should be able to eat at a wide range of restaurants, including our favourites outlined in our city dossiers which you will receive before you travel with us.

Important notes about eating in restaurants gluten free 

– Aside from the dedicated gluten free restaurants, you should expect your waiter or waitress to give you the standard disclaimer that their kitchen is not gluten free and while they will make every effort to meet your needs, they cannot guarantee a gluten free meal.  This is important to note, however reflecting on our personal experiences we have never had problems with our celiac children at any of the restaurants listed here.

– When it comes to ordering french fries or other fried food, please always double check in-situ whether the restaurant uses a dedicated GF fryer.  One of the most popular foods in Israel is schnitzel which is deep fried and definitely not GF, so it is important to check for cross contamination.

– The celiac society of Israel provides this restaurant card in Hebrew which explains about the dietary requirements of celiacs and may be useful to carry https://www.celiac.org.il/images/pdfs/hebrewRestaurantCard.pdf.  However in practice, English is spoken in the vast majority of places, and most establishments are used to catering gluten free meals.

– Some restaurants in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, are kosher which means they are closed on Friday afternoons and Saturdays and Jewish holidays, so if you’re relying on a particular restaurant for your GF planning best to check opening times.

Snacks & Packaging

By law any product containing gluten must state this on its packaging, and in practice the vast majority of products which carry cross contamination risk also state this on their packaging.  Often  the allergy statement is in Hebrew, Arabic and English, but where it is just in Hebrew the word for gluten in Hebrew is the same as in English (pronounced a little more elongated, more like ‘glooten’) and spelt ‘גלוטן’.

On the other hand, if you see this on packaging  ללא גלוטן  it means gluten free, and is pronounced ‘Lelo glooten’.  Your tour guide will always assist in reading packaging for you, and you will find people in shops incredibly helpful in reading packaging for you too.  You may also see the sign pictured here of a red and yellow flower on packaging, and this means gluten free, but it is not universally used and there are plenty of GF products out there which don’t show this sign.

Israel produces well loved national snacks, and the good news is that many of these are gluten free!  Some of our favourites are pictured below and include Apropos (like chips which are corn based) and Bamba (peanut puff snacks which Israeli kids go crazy for – please be sure to buy the GF packs and not the regular packs).  For our ice cream recommendations please see above under street food categories of restaurants.

Gluten Free snacks and signage

Our raison d’etre is to make your Israel journey meaningful, thoroughly enjoyable, logistically easy, and low hassle.  This includes how and what you eat.  It is our pleasure to assist with gluten free travel, and with other dietary requirements.

Why Pomegranate?

  • Tailor made itineraries
  • Deep Israel knowledge
  • Expert guides
  • Outstanding style & service
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