Gluten free? Israel’s the Best Place to Be!

May 27th 2016

One of the hardest parts of traveling abroad is finding places to cater to your specific dietary restrictions. Whether it’s kosher, halal, vegan, or some other requirement, getting a meal around the world is sometimes easier said than done (and that includes speaking in a foreign language!).

Fortunately, gluten free travelers have nothing to fear when crossing the ocean to the culinary Land of Israel. Are you wheat-wary? Make sure you review this gluten free guide to Israel:

Israel’s Gluten Free Culture

Don’t you hate it when you go to a restaurant, ask the waiter if the chicken Kiev has gluten in it, and he looks at you like you have three heads? This happens a lot in countries less familiar with the current dietary trends and health requirements, but it will almost never happen around Israel. The entire culture understands and respects the gluten free way of life, they know what it means, and they’re familiar with the restrictions so you never have to have another conversation that goes like this again:

“Does it have gluten?”
“Is it made with wheat?”
“Is there flour in it?”
“Wheat flour?”
Blank stare.

Not only do Israelis understand what it means to be gluten free, as well as the associated health risks for someone who is gluten-intolerant or allergic to gluten, but the society has embraced the lifestyle. You’ll find five-star restaurants with full menus of gluten free delicacies, the wait-staff will know exactly what you’re talking about when you ask questions, and chefs are more than happy to oblige any requests. What a relief!

Additionally, there are loads of gluten free snacks that are pretty much an essential component to the typical Israeli diet. Things like Bamba (a peanut snack), chocolate spread, and Apropo (a corn snack) are eaten by the truckloads every day in Israel, so you won’t be left hungry at the end of your day of travels.

Hot Spots for Gluten Free Goodies

Israel is covered from one border to the next with restaurants, cafes, and bistros that cater to the gluten free crowd, so you’ll never feel like the odd man out, nor will you have to compromise on quality and taste because of your dietary choices.

Here are some of our favorites that you’ll have to try the next time you’re here:

Achoti – A lovely Italian restaurant in Tel Aviv
Orna & Ella – Another Tel Aviv great
Ben Ami – A delightful Jerusalem-based dairy restaurant that is as delectable as it is lovely
Tandoori – In the mood for Indian? Hit up Tandoori in Givat Ram for some good eats
Pastory – Gluten free and in Eilat
Cafe Louise – A sweet cafe in Haifa that serves up some delicious salads, natural juices, and other GF treats

If you’re looking for gluten free chains, here are a few that you can find across the country:

Aroma – A nice coffee shop/cafe with GF bread always available
Burger’s Bar – Some of the best burgers in the world are made at Burger’s Bar, and they have great gluten free bread you would never even realize was without wheat

We’ve even got gluten free-stocked grocery stores for your at-home convenience. Visit The Natural Choice or Beit Teva in the Mahane Yehuda shuk or Teva Net on Agripas for all your gluten free needs.

(*This list is by no means the full extent of Israel’s offerings, but just a few highlights. Come over to Israel, and you’ll see the streets are lined with restaurants with gluten free options waiting to serve you!)

Passover, the Holiday Made Just for Celiacs

If you haven’t booked your tickets yet, you might want to consider visiting Israel in the spring, around Passover time. This is the absolute best time to travel to Israel if you are gluten free because the country basically goes GF. That’s right, regardless of your regular food intake throughout the year, for one whole week, Jews of all walks of life abstain from eating bread products in honor of this special holiday.

Lest you should think that these poor Israeli citizens starve for a week, we can reassure it’s nothing of the sort!

Israelis are the most industries people in the world, and they’ve come up with the most delicious bread substitutes to satisfy those carb cravings during this long week. From potato flour rolls, bread loaves, and pitas to cereal, pasta, and even pizza, you can have it all, or at least as much as your stomach can take. And it’s all 100% gluten free. How’s that for accommodating? (Okay, matzah definitely has gluten, so make sure you stay away from that, but loads of restaurants whip up batches of fluffy potato or corn bread rather than serve you sandwiches on cardboardy matzah. If you’re celiac, make sure you ask before you indulge.)

Here’s an even more comprehensive guide to gluten free Israel travel. Now that you know you can find all the food you can eat and more within the borders of Israel, all that’s left to do is book a ticket!