I’m driving down a long stretch of road with a group of great individuals. We don’t know where to go eat lunch, but our stomachs are howling that they would be happy with wherever the car stops at next.
All of a sudden, the car comes to an abrupt stop and we find ourselves in front of a tent. A passenger of the vehicle turns to me, a smile quickly spreading across her face, and says, “this is the place”.I step outside of the car and my excitement begins to grow: in front of me is a beautifully laid out tent, there are chairs surrounding big round tables for customers to relax on, and an herb garden is found surrounding the humble plot of land.
I didn’t know what to expect. I was already out-of-my-mind excited about the cozy, warm, and cute atmosphere of this tent-restaurant (if one could call it that), but did not know what kinds of foods would be offered. I did guess it would be authentic Israeli cuisine, but was not sure what that would entail.
There was no menu and there were no extravagant seating arrangements as you might find at a restaurant – and I think that is what made this experience so priceless. Before being seated, our orders were given to the man in the tent.
“Bread with labneh and zatar, please!”, said the person who knew what she was doing.
I happily agreed.The man told us to be seated and to relax and enjoy the view as he made us our meal.
I was happy, truly and utterly happy and content. The weather was perfect, the wind blew slightly, the air was clean, and the landscape was beautiful.I didn’t think the relaxing could get any better until the man brought us some tea, courtesy of the fresh herbs in his own garden. The smell of the tea was unlike any that I’ve smelled before: hints of lemongrass wafted to my nose, there was a slight whiff of mint, and the smell of the other herbs came together in such a harmonious blend that I didn’t know what was what.As I was enjoying my tea, our meal was brought out and it looked amazing!
The main meal was Druze pita with labneh (a tart, white, and creamy yogurt cheese with a similar consistency as heavy Greek yogurt) and zatar (a spice mixture predominantly found in the Middle East).
With our main meal came an Israeli salad, a side dish of what I believe to have been cabbage, and olives.It felt like a true home-cooked meal. It was not grandiose like something you might find at a restaurant, yet it still had a very delicious taste.
Next thing we know, the owner of the place is bringing us free falafels with tahini (what a guy!). And, of course, we all dig in right away
(I mean, what else did you expect?)The falafels were crispy on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside: a great combination! The only problem? Not being able to stop eating them.
All in all, this has been my favourite food experience up to now. I cannot wait to experience more amazing places such as this one in Israel during my time here.
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Where can I experience this in Israel?
There is no set location for these tents, they can be found in parks or on the side of the road. Keep your eyes peeled for them!
How expensive was it?
I paid 15 NIS ($5.40 Canadian) for the entire meal. I have heard from others that at most tents, the bread with labneh and zatar is 15 NIS and you have to pay extra for the drinks, salads, and side dishes.
Would you recommend this to someone traveling in Israel?
Absolutely! It gives you a whole new feel of Israel and you’re able to try some truly delicious Israeli cuisine.
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What has been your most memorable food experience? Let me know in the comments below!