We don’t know which cliché is more played-out: The one that says, “There’s nothing good to eat in Eilat – everything is stuck sometime in the 1990s,” or the one that says, “What are you talking about? The Eilat of today isn’t the Eilat of yesterday. There’s a wide range of options.”
If you ask us, the truth is a combination of the two. Eilat has quite a few restaurants that look as if they were frozen in time, and we won’t deny that these have a certain charm. But during our last visit, we discovered more than a few interesting and delicious places that not only feel relevant, but are also in accord with dining trends all over the country.
Perhaps it was the pandemic that prompted a burst of improvement, but Eilat really does offer better culinary options than dinner at a hotel, as good as it may be. So good that we were surprised by how long our recommendation list became. So, we divided it into two articles. This week will feature restaurants that serve full dinners or lunches, and the next will focus on the city’s most delicious street food.
It’s hard not to have fond memories of the old Leviathan restaurant, which was a unique culinary gem in Eilat. However, after paying a visit to its newest iteration, after the pandemic necessitated an overhaul, we can say that we really like the new version as well. It’s now a hamburger joint, but every detail has been given meticulous care – from the burgers themselves, to the toppings and the beverages served with them.
There’s a lot choose from. We went with “La Big Mess,” in which the usual patty is replaced with shredded beef asado covered in barbeque sauce and cheddar cheese, at a cost of 75 shekels. It’s both tasty and, as the name suggests, messy. The Frenchie (70 shekels), with caramelized onion and Gouda-style goat cheese, was only a little less messy, but equally delicious.
So was the Chickburger (45 shekels), an excellent local version of a thick crispy chicken sandwich. But ultimately, we fell in love with the Shrimpburger (75 shekels) – a juicy patty with lots of breaded shrimp that was not only delicious, but unique.
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Then there are the intriguing toppings, such as fried gyoza stuffed with shrimp and ginger, Buffalo wings, fried artichoke and more. It’s a veritable paradise for burger lovers.
Whale Burger, Derech Pa’amei Hashalom (under the Herod’s Hotel), Eilat. 08-920-9393. Sunday-Saturday, 1 P.M.-10 P.M. Not kosher.
There’s no shortage of Italian restaurants in Eilat, but we think Pastory is the best of them. Its menu offers a mix of classic Italian dishes that everyone is familiar with, along with more unique offerings. Coupled with a large and unconventional wine list (it seems the owners are wine lovers), the menu makes it one of the best Italian restaurants in the entire country. Where else in Eilat could you find rotolo (58 shekels) – a scrumptious roulade of pasta with a spinach and ricotta filling? Or ravioli nero (72 shekels) – black ravioli stuffed with a shrimp and mascarpone filling, served with goat-milk yogurt? Forget what you think you know about boring Italian restaurants, and Pastory may well become a regular stop every time you visit Eilat.
Pastory, Tarshish 7, Eilat. 050-924-1100. Sunday-Saturday, 1 P.M.-4:30 P.M., 6 P.M.-10:30 P.M. Not kosher.
Until a few years ago, this was just a small sandwich shop, but it’s now a large restaurant with a menu that is all about meat and vegetables, and with the superb sandwiches from its previous incarnation still a main focus. We enjoyed the terrific “beef stew” sandwich (59 shekels) with slow-cooked beef asado, root vegetables and salsa verde, which was big and delicious; an excellent hamburger with massive and marvelous homemade onion rings (51 shekels); tahini-filled kebabs (69 shekels), which were brilliant, and much more.
This place is a favorite among locals and practically anyone you ask in the city will recommend it. Yes, the restaurant is kosher, so vegan versions are substituted for cheeses and dairy products, such as on the hamburger or in the vegan tzatziki that comes with the kebabs – so just be aware of that.
Omer’s, Sderot Hatemarim 26, Eilat. 08-652-1646. Sunday-Thursday 12 P.M. – 10 P.M. Closed Friday-Saturday. Kosher.
If we had to describe Ginger in a nutshell, we’d probably call it Eilat’s Soho restaurant – and that’s a compliment. What you’ll find here is a large Asian restaurant with a huge menu on which nearly everyone can find something they like – from noodle dishes to bao steamed buns, grilled entrees and sushi. In the last couple of years, some dishes that are a bit less conventional have been added, and although you won’t find the same level of precision here as at restaurants specializing in specific cuisines, the level here is quite high and there are plenty of gems to be found, such as a pair of pad kra pao banh (59 shekels) that combine Chinese bao buns with a dense Thai pad krapao, or the Japanese-style sirloin steak in a tasty beef sauce (132 shekels).
Ginger. Derech Yotam 3, Eilat. 08-637-2517. Sunday-Saturday, 12 P.M. – 11 P.M. Not kosher.
A good Indian restaurant in Eilat? Now this was a real surprise. At the entrance to the restaurant, we were a bit disconcerted by the sign that said “Pattai Restaurant “– but we soon learned that this was just a remnant from the Thai restaurant that previously operated here, although a few items from that restaurant’s menu have been kept in order to please its longtime faithful clientele. We focused on the Indian section of the menu, which includes all the usual suspects.
For a first course, we opted for a platter of fried appetizers (44 shekels) that included two good samosas, several crispy pakora pancakes, and two balls of mashed sweet potatoes that were the real standouts. The chicken tikka masala (66 shekels) was juicy, with a rich, tasty and perfectly seasoned sauce, but our favorite dish of all was the malai kufta (65 shekels), soft cheese balls in an incredibly delicious curry sauce that’s a touch spicy, a touch sweet and thoroughly addictive.
Tikka Masala, Ha’orgim 2, Eilat. 053-9414775. Sunday-Friday, 12 P.M. – 9 P.M. Closed Saturday. Not kosher.
Among all the restaurants aimed at tourists, it’s a pleasure to find a restaurant like Amos’s, which focuses on homestyle food – the type one isn’t always looking for during a brief and pampering vacation, but that is always a delight to eat.
Here you can find homemade couscous and dishes like kibbeh beet soup, kibbeh hamusta, meat patties with peas and potatoes, or chraimeh (fish in spicy tomato sauce), but we went for the beef cheek stew with chickpeas (70 shekels, the most expensive dish on the menu), which turned out to be a hefty portion and was accompanied by a mound of homemade couscous with broth and vegetables. The meat was very soft and tender, with a deep beefy flavor and a sauce that’s a bit spicy, a bit sweet. If you’ve got a hankering for good homestyle food, this is the place for you.
Amos’s Kitchen, Barnea 48, Eilat. 08-631-8881. Sunday-Thursday 11 A.M. - 4:30 P.M. Friday, 9 A.M. – 3 P.M. Closed Saturday. Kosher.
Pedro is another restaurant that has been around for a while, but it recently changed direction from being a fish restaurant to a market restaurant with an eclectic menu comprised of meat, fish, seafood and vegetable dishes. When a restaurant covers such a wide range, it doesn’t always bode well, but everything we ate was good.
The Caesar salad (44 shekels) is served in highly original fashion – with two boats of lettuce seasoned with a classic Caesar dressing and covered in crispy bread crumbs with bottarga, which makes this salad an especially enjoyable first course. We also enjoyed some good shrimp with a blue cheese sauce and black pasta (52 shekels) and whole roasted sea bass, which was juicy and delicious (the price varies).
Pedro, Sderot Ye’elim 38, Eilat. 08-637-9504. Closed Sunday. Open Monday-Friday 6 P.M.-11 P.M., and Saturday 2 P.M.- 11 P.M. Not kosher.
Like Amos’s, Lalo is also a small gem offering homestyle food amid the glut of tourist-oriented restaurants, one that has been on the scene for a long time. The menu here leans toward Moroccan cuisine, and includes dishes like homemade couscous with meat or fish patties (59 shekels), a terrific beef stew with soft okra (59 shekels), and a real winner – meatballs in Tunisian pkaila sauce (59 shekels), one of the best things you’ll ever eat, a stew of spinach that is cooked for hours until it is nearly black, mixed with soft white beans. Usually it is served with roast beef, but here it comes with tasty meatballs. Don’t miss it.
Lalo, Hahorev 7, Eilat. 08-633-0578. Sunday-Thursday 12 P.M. – 5 P.M. Closed Friday-Saturday. Kosher.
For years, this was the most famous fish restaurant in town, but it, too, has undergone a facelift. Now a bistro with an eclectic menu, the emphasis here is on fish and seafood, but not only. The restaurant is trying to appeal to a wider clientele. We had a wonderful bruschetta (59 shekels) of shrimp in lemon butter, asparagus and peas on bread from the excellent Broitman Bakery (more on that in an upcoming article), and a filet of sea bream with green risotto (118 shekels), which, while not particularly innovative, was certainly enjoyable. It also offers unusual breakfast options that are worth forgoing the hotel buffet for, with things like poached eggs with lamb pancetta, an asparagus sabih, and even the same shrimp bruschetta found on the evening menu. But our stomachs were still quite full the next morning.
Pago Bistro, Mishol Hamayim 99, Eilat Marina. 08-637-6660. Sunday-Saturday, 12:30 P.M. – 11 P.M. Not kosher.
As the name implies, Fish Market is a fish restaurant of the sort you will find all over the country, where they start you off with a wide array of salads that are included in the price of the main course. But what would a vacation destination be without this kind of restaurant? This is an excellent example of this kind of establishment, one that illustrates why they are so popular. The salads that fill the table could be a whole meal in themselves, and the main courses are huge, too. The main course options included all the classics, like whole tilapia or mullet (99 shekels) or shrimp in a wide variety of sauces (119 shekels). It’s hard to leave here hungry or unsated, and that’s the whole idea, right?
Fish Market, Almog Beach Shopping Center, Eilat. 08-637-9830. Sunday-Saturday, 12:30 P.M. – 11 P.M. Not kosher.
This longtime Eilat hamburger joint continues to be one of the most popular places in the city. Whenever you come to this diner, you’ll find lots of young people and families scarfing down all sorts of decadent-looking hamburgers. The menu offers more than 20 different hamburgers, such as the Jerusalem (74 shekels) with lamb bacon, fried eggplant, hot pepper and tehina sauce; or the Australian burger (66 shekels) with pineapple, onion jam and pork sausage. But like always, we especially loved the classic bacon cheeseburger(66 shekels) with melted gouda and crispy bacon.
Barbis, Tarshish 19, Eilat. 08-634-2404. Sunday-Saturday, Noon to Midnight. Not Kosher.
The Last Refuge
You can't talk about veteran Eilat eateries without mentioning the Last Refuge. While it probably is what a lot of people have in mind when they say that Eilat is stuck in the 1980s or 1990s, it’s hard to argue with its popularity. Bottom line, the food is very good, even if it’s amusing to see that for an additional five shekels, you can order a creamed version of most dishes.
Customers keep coming back to eat whole or fileted grilled fish (95-115 shekels), or shrimp in a variety of sauces, such as the classic garlic and cream sauce (115 shekels). Sometimes, nostalgia is really fun, especially when it’s a little creamy.
The Last Refuge, Almog Beach, Eilat. 08-637-2437. Closed Sunday. Monday-Saturday, 1 P.M. – 10:30 P.M. Not kosher.
Eddie’s Hideaway is another example of a veteran Eilat establishment about which a good number of stories and urban legends have been woven, of varying degrees of accuracy. Here, too, the menu, which is comprised mainly of steaks and seafood, has hardly changed in the restaurant’s 43 years, and includes several items that sound practically impossible these days, though each of them has a large following of devoted adherents – such as the steak filet baked in brown sugar and mustard, brulee-style (160 shekels), the Hawaii filet mignon with pineapple, potatoes and toasted nuts (160 shekels), or the Eilat-style filet mignon with cream, mustard, mushrooms, curry and brandy (160 shekels).
If you ask us, the cordon bleu (99 shekels) alone is reason enough to come here – an enormous chicken schnitzel stuffed with lots of cheese and bacon. There are certain winning classics that this city is never going to give up on.
Eddie’s Hideaway, Hamasger 2, Eilat. 08-637-1137. Closed Sunday. Monday-Thursday 6 P.M. – 11 P.M. Friday, 4 P.M. – Midnight. Saturday, 2 P.M. – 11 P.M. Not kosher.