As a private tour guide in Israel, I take my clients to such places as the Old City of Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea, Galilee and its beautiful lake (the Sea of Galilee) and the Negev Desert in the south.
I recommend places to stay such as the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the Scots Hotel in Tiberias and the new Beresheet Hotel in Mitzpe Ramon. True, these hotels are not suited to everyone’s budget, so I have to be able to suggest alternative places to stay while still demanding customer satisfaction – no easy thing.
The same goes for where to eat. Eating in a foreign country should be one of the most enjoyable things one does. How many times have I heard, “I’m on vacation. I’ll go back on my diet when I get home.” I know I say it!
A good tour guide should know where to go to eat.
Here are a few steadfast rules:
1. Don’t go where you see lots of tour buses. Mediocre food, high prices and spotty service will be the norm. Be careful of restaurants that only cater to foreign tourists. That goes for any country.
2. Does the staff speak English? This is not a problem in Israel. Even the smallest falafel stand will be able to communicate with you, but be wary.
3. Does the establishment have menus in English?
4. Does the establishment take credit cards?
5. Finally, my acid test: how clean are the restrooms.
Now, I know that there are exceptions to the rules. For instance, the best restaurant in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, the “Cardo Café,” caters almost exclusively to foreign tourists, but is quite good (they also have the cleanest restrooms in the Middle East)!
So, in the next few installments, I will recommend some eateries that I frequent.