The Israeli breakfast best in the world? I expected to be enthused by the Israeli culinary scene, but I never expected to be excited by “breakfast”. I’ve never been a breakfast person … not until I arrived in Israel. Unlike my husband, I have never woken up eager to run into the shower and head down to the hotel dining room to enjoy my breakfast. But I know that travel which involves touring from early morning to late into the evening requires a substantial breakfast before setting out for the day.
Our recent trip to Israel, however, was transformative. The very first morning, I was awestruck by the magnificent and wide variety of choices – – healthy and fresh choices – offered up at the breakfast buffet in the restaurant of our hotel, the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel. It took just that one morning to provide me with that special ah-hah moment. I had become a “breakfast person” too. Indeed, all of the other large hotels we stayed in during our two-week tour of Israel, including the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, the Scots Hotel in Tiberias, all provided breakfasts that tantalized my taste buds and gave me the energy to enjoy a busy day of touring without weighing me down.
Of course I’ve had “healthy” breakfasts before. I’ve enjoyed light and flavorful Japanese and Chinese breakfasts, and tried smoothies. With the concept of “healthy” out of the equation — I’ve eaten many a marvelous traditional English breakfast renowned for its farm fresh eggs cooked with butter, gammon bacon, home-made sausage, grilled tomato and mushrooms, and fried bread. And of course, many a time I’ve savored freshly baked croissants and café au lait in France. But for me to have the feeling of sheer enjoyment in the morning and get-up-and-go energy after eating, top of the list and far above the others is an Israeli breakfast.
So what is so special about an “Israeli” breakfast? First of all, in the larger hotels it’s traditionally served buffet-style which allows me to do a walk-about to check out all the offerings before selecting what I want. Plus I love buffets because they light up my senses, allowing me to see, smell and even taste foods before I actually pile them onto my plate. And I simply enjoy watching the chefs and cooks at the made-to-order stations perform their artistry as they prepare individual orders.
Secondly the array of foods displayed includes a wide range of Israeli, Mediterranean and European offerings. After all, Israel – like the U.S. – is a melting pot of people from many countries around the world, but their lifestyle is indeed Mediterranean. We all have heard about the “healthy” benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and I can simply attest to the fact that I felt more energized and infinitely more satisfied after enjoying a breakfast in Israel than I have ever felt post-breakfast elsewhere.
Thirdly, the aromas of the fruit and veggies in an Israeli breakfast buffet talk to me. Honestly, they beckon me to sample them as I walk by – they are irresistible. I first had this experience when we moved to France in 1974 and shopped at a huge outdoor farm market. The sights and smells of all that wonderful fresh produce were so exciting and so inviting. Most assuredly, like the French, the Israelis must use a system of crop rotation and fertilization that provides the ideal soil base for producing such aromatic and delicious produce. How they have transformed their desert land into a rich, well-irrigated farmer’s delight is a miracle which enhances my enjoyment.
So what are the wonderful foods included in an Israeli breakfast buffet? Let me take you on a tour …
Israeli salads, surrounded by magnificent fresh produce, including artisanal lettuces, varieties of tomatoes, fennel, mushrooms, bean sprouts, pickles of various types, assorted olives and tapenades. I found that tapenade was the perfect topping for a lightly toasted bagel when I was pairing it with some smoked fish.
Fresh seasonal fruits, with a focus on oranges and grapefruits, and freshly squeezed citrus juices.
In addition to traditional omelet & eggs-to-order and waffle & pancake stations, there’s a whole array of smoked and marinated fish, along with their accoutrements including capers, lemons, onions, olives, tapenades and cream cheese. While I enjoy a good omelet, I became seriously addicted to the fish along with fresh salads and fruits in Israel.
Of course there is the legendary Israeli hummus accompanied with pita bread as well as baba ghanoush … an eggplant dip which means “pampered papa” or “coy daddy” in Arabic. These dips are a staple in Israel and a perfect complement to most any meal.
One of my best discoveries for “breakfast” is the Boureka station … serving up a flaky pastry garnished with sesame seed and stuffed to your liking with feta cheese, tomatoes, mashed potato, hummus, parsley, tahini, roasted red pepper sauce and finished off on the grill. Indescribably flavorful and very satisfying with some fresh veggies and fruit. Not every hotel offers this station, but the Dan Tel Aviv does.
Artisanal Israeli cheeses and yogurt rival some of Europe’s finest.
Artisanal breads for you to cut to your taste and light airy bagels are displayed along with traditional loaves and home-made jams besides a toaster for you to heat or toast the bread to your liking.
The neighboring station offers up a panoply of freshly baked croissants, plain & chocolate, pain au chocolate, and other sweet rolls. Plus, to satisfy your craving for sweets, there are dates and other dried fruits, and always a traditional cheesecake or Shabbat cake typically flavored with citrus, dates, cinnamon or poppy seed.
Assorted coffees & teas are usually available at the buffet but waiters will come around to refill your cup at your table. After drinking a large glass of the sweetest, most delicious orange juice I have ever had, I always moved on to a pot of green tea with my “main course” and then finished up with a double espresso to accompany a slice of cake for “dessert”.
Fodor’s calls the Israeli breakfast “legendary”. I just call it the “best in the world”!
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for our writings about our Israel trip as well as for more Countries of the World as we share our joie de vivre from around the world. Luxury escapes, cruises and city breaks to Quebec City, New York, Washington, Buenos Aires. In Europe, places like Paris France, Nice France, Provence and the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), Tuscany and Florence in Italy, Rome, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast. In Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal and so much more!
Rachel Heller says
I’m so enjoying your posts about Israel. I’ve been there quite a few times and discover something new every time. I love the breakfasts as well, especially the fresh orange juice. And I love Israeli hummus and baba ganoush any time of the day!
The bounty of the Israeli table is amazing…and dessert for breakfast is always a good idea. So glad I read this post AFTER breakfast!
Judy Freedman says
This sounds amazing and is making hungry and making me want to push Israel higher on my #lifeafter50 travel bucket list. What tour would you recommend for a first timer?
Helen Cohn says
Israel definitely should be high on your list., it has great cuisine and wines in addition to fabulous tourist attractions. I would love to help you plan a visit.
I recommend taking a 10 or 13 day guided bus tour. You will see the most important sites and travel in comfort with a certified tour guide. I recommend also flying with El Al for the best security, food and comfort. Plus, as they say, your vacation in Israel starts the moment you get on the plane… It will be one of the best holidays of your life, guaranteed!
Carol Colborn says
Wow, thiis breakfast has everythnig! That boureka sounds heavenly and the cheese station must have been great. And you have figs and dates! That really is a breakfast to die for!
Wow, I’d want to stay there all morning! That photo of BOUREKAS looks especially delicious and I love the idea of salad at breakfast.
Janice Chung says
OK, I’m not really a breakfast person either and I really didn’t expect the extensive selection that you showed! No wonder you’re now a breakfast person. I would be too! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen so much food for breakfast. The breads look heavenly.
Well! You have convinced me! When I read the title, I thought to myself (may have even said it out loud) “Oh, please!” But after seeing that spread, I not sure that I would want to leave and see any sights. Wow. Let it be said, “I am an unabashed breakfast lover.”
Carole Terwilliger Meyers says
WOW! Love those pictures! I agree, those Israeli breakfast are fabulous. I stayed at the Dan, too, and remember that breakfast room in particular. Loved the coffee barista.
Catherine Sweeney says
OK, I believe you that Israel has the best breakfasts! I love the wide variety of options — all those veggies along with the really tantalizing ones for me like cheese and desserts. But the thing I can’t wait to try sometime is Boureka.
Donna Janke says
This breakfast looks fantastic. So many choices. Olives, artisan cheese and fish for breakfast – I love it. I’m not a big pastry eater but the ones in your photo look irresistible.
Linda Fairbairn says
You hooked me with the intrigue that you became a breakfast convert as I too wouldn’t do a back flip for that meal of the day… until that was until I read what a legendary Israeli breakfast consists of LOL
All those wonderful savoury healthy dishes – Yum 😀
Sand In My Suitcase says
We always used to think the hearty English breakfasts were the best — grilled tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, eggs, the whole lot! But your Israeli breakfast beats that. After fruit, eggs, hummus, yogurt and all those flaky pastries, you wouldn’t need to eat again — until breakfast the next day :-).
Motti Bembaron says
You won’t be able to wait until the next morning when you pass a falafel stand during the day 🙂 or a bakery lol.
The GypsyNesters says
Wow! We are not really breakfast people either, but it looks like you could easily do breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the buffet.
Kay Dougherty says
Those breakfasts look fabulous! I have to confess that I wouldn’t have had high expectations for food in Israel but I may need to reconsider after reading this.
Food in Israel is amazing.
Food in Israel is actually quite good, everywhere you go, Bad food is not tolerated!
So you have the standard israeli breakfast.
now think how frustrating it is for an Israeli to visit the US and have “breakfast” and “coffee”. just. meh.
funny enough, Pandora bread’s the only place with a descent espresso. and what you’ve eaten normally here, is a ‘specialty’ at Pandora’s.
Sue Reddel says
Wow!! I can understand why you’d be anxious to get down to this huge assortment of breakfast taste treats. Makes my breakfast of eggs, english muffin and grapefruit seem quite ordinary. Now I want a plate of bourekas. They look ridiculously good!
Karen Warren says
What an amazing selection of food! I remember the fresh vegetables at breakfast when I was in Israel many years ago, but it looks as if Israeli cuisine has moved on considerably since those days.
Grey World Nomads says
So, I learned something today – now I know what an Israeli breakfast is. Looks healthy and delicious.
Billie Frank says
I can see why you loved those Israeli breakfasts. They look so fresh and delicious. I love to start my day with fresh foods,
Naomi stanley says
Yes, great food. Correction needed in the paragraph about how good the fruit and veg are and its a testimony to the greening of Israel.nYou wrote “dessert” which is a pudding. Needs a change to “desert”
You are so right. How did we miss this? Thank you so much for the correction.
Fresh & HEALTHY …????? What are all these “HEALTHY“ cakes on display for breakfest ????? What´s so healthy …. ???? Yes, I LOVE (these) cakes… BUT Healthy ?? For Breakfest ??
paul james says
while we were in ISRAEL for 2 weeks, we fell in love with the hotel’s buffets . we tried many foods. some we loved and others we did not care for. all in all, we loved it and the hotels were very nice and most people were very nice to us. waiters, not so much though. can not wait to go back. GOD bless ISRAEL and his wonderful Jewish people.
The food in Israel is generally amazing especially breakfast as you say . I have two favourite places ,the first is the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem where you eat breakfast on a terrace overlooking the walls of the old city and the second is the Cramim hotel in Abu Ghosh where you can eat an amazing breakfast until 12 pm on a terrace overlooking the Judean Hills .the Cramim is a spa hotel so it’s great to be able to still eat breakfast after your 7 am morning hike ,your exercise class,swim and massage !
facebook_Motti Bembaron.999784120058246 says
And where the heck is a photo of a Shakshuka????
Israeli breakfast is the best in the world, bar-none! I have been saying it for years. I have traveled to many countries in almost all continents and have lived in Canada for the past 30 years with many, many trips to most parts the US and Canada. Nowhere in the world you can find breakfast as varied, delicious and plentiful as in Israel.
Than again, Israeli food is the best there is. When people from all over the world came to Israel they brought their cuisine with them. Being an Israeli means you never settled for what is a given and always try new things.
Two generation later and the kids, and grand kids, of those immigrants blend food from a Moroccan father with an Iraqi mother or Turkish mother and a Tunisian father (with Italian grandfather and Moroccan grandmother, that’s me), Polish and Libyan, Russian and…well, you got the point, and made Israeli food what it is today.
All is all, food is excellent in our little country.
The food looks delicious! I’m now hungry and craving for Israeli breakfast.
I could definitely become a huge fan of the Boureka station. The cheeses look heavenly too.
That is one massive breakfast buffet. I bet everyone could find something that they like there. Looks delicious!
Charles McCool says
that is a fantastic looking breakfast. Great start to any day!
Oh thats so mouth watering, i dont know much about Israeli food and i think i wanna try it too
Allan Daly says
Great photos! They tell a lot about the food safety standards and how some of the restaurants seem to be following them and some definitely are not following them. We see the self-service bread cutting station all over Latin America, even at top hotels, until we point out the issues with that practice, and then they stop doing it. You either want to be the first person who touches that bread or you really hope the person in front of you washed their hands after they went to the bathroom. It may look fancy, but bread in restaurants should be sliced in the kitchen, not by guests.
I just found your blog and I can’t wait to read more of your adventures. Let me know if we can collaborate on some posts in the future. We are brand new. Thank you for doing what you do!