Yes, Tel Aviv is on the coast and Jerusalem is inland in the Judean hills far from the water, but that doesn’t mean that you should only expect to eat great seafood in Tel Aviv.
If we’re talking about seafood in Israel, however, take into consideration that kosher restaurants won’t serve you some of the traditional seafood you’re used to back home. No shrimp, prawns, crab or lobster — none of them are kosher. What you can find among the kosher fish restaurants is a surprising array of options — ranging from classy white linen place sserving gourmet mouthwatering fish dishes, to a simple fish and chips stall in the market where two people can have dinner for less than $25.
At the high end, there’s Olive & Fish, a sophisticated, intimate fish restaurant that has options for the meat-lovers in your party too. Located across the street from the Inbal Hotel and a five-minute walk from the King David Hotel, Olive & Fish has an ever-changing menu of creative fish dishes that feature both local (St. Peters fish, sea bream) and exotic (mostly salmon) fish flown in fresh from Scandinavia. Look for the daily specials that highlight the chef’s creativity.
Over at the popular Machane Yehuda market at the western end of Jaffa Road, head for the appropriately named Fish and Chips, which is at the Agrippas Street end of the closed alley of the shuk. The smell should lead you there. The menu is short and simple (and not written in English — ask for advice from the server) and focuses on cod and french fries and a couple of other fried fish dishes dependent on what’s fresh that day in the market. The fish and chips are cooked up fresh for every order, so take a seat at one of the nearby tables and enjoy the people-watching while you await what are possibly the best fish and chips this side of London. Served with a tray of assorted sauces and ketchup, the large portions of perfectly battered and fried fish and crisp french fries will leave you spoiled for any other.
A more upscale, but friendly neighborhood fish restaurant is Beni Dagim, a Jerusalem institution. Known for serving up perfect portions of freshly grilled whole sole, trout, St. Peter’s fish, and bream, together with their signature toasted pita bread and humous to start, Beni Dagim is a civilized place to dine with family and guests. Your choice of rice or french fries and a glass of good Israeli wine make good accompaniments to the bountiful fish. The atmosphere is bright, clean and pleasant at this centrally located restaurant not far from the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall.