We first visited Itzik Hagadol in Jaffa, Israel back in 2011.
We were walking back to our beachfront hotel – the David Intercontinental, after spending the afternoon in the famous Jaffa flea market. We loved the restaurant so much that we’ve since made going back there a family tradition of sorts.
As you come up David Raziel Street from Tel Aviv’s beachfront, you will find the restaurant in a nondescript old building dating from the turn of the previous century. The display of different meats in the window reminds you that this is mainly a steak house.
The two rooms are decorated sparsely with long dark wood tables close to each other for a cozy atmosphere. Patrons who are a mixture of tourists and locals all know to come here for the food rather than the ambiance.
Unless you have made a prior booking, service is first to come first served. Often there are long lines of people waiting for a table. If you or your child are unable to wait for a long time, it is recommended that you call ahead to reserve a place since it does tend to get crowded in the evenings and weekends.
Even though the restaurant prides itself on its meat, we go there for the 20 or more salad selections (many vegetarian and gluten free) on the menu.
They have a superb appetizer platter that includes tahini, carrot salad, eggplant made three ways, falafel, Israeli chopped salad, cabbage salad, egg salad and an assortment of tomato salads.
Our favorites are the spicy Moroccan, the cold minced chicken liver salad and the roasted eggplant salads that never cease to leave us craving for more.
The refillable salad spread (that you can get as your main course or as an accompaniment to any of their meat dishes) comes with a Laffa – flat bread, fresh and hot out of the stone oven. We wash the meal down with a pitcher of nana (mint) lemonade that they squeeze and prepare daily on the premises.
The menu selection is long and varied, and it usually takes my son several minutes to choose and…come to the same decision each time; he likes their mixed grill skewer platter, which features a combination of chicken, beef and lamb.
I usually order the Romanian kebabs unless I feel adventurous (yes, I know the calories…) and order the grilled goose liver.
They do offer ribs and steak as well as cooked fish, but this is a place that most come to for the excellent meat skewers.
If you still have space for dessert, which you probably never will – don’t leave without trying their Malabi, a light and creamy rosewater pudding with a refreshing and delicate flavor.
Over the years, we’ve found the servers to be courteous and friendly; they even remember our son by his name.
Last time we were there and, as usual, couldn’t have any dessert the server packed a malabi to go for us to enjoy in our hotel room later.
The Jaffa restaurant originally opened in 1996 by a father and son duo with a space that accommodated less than 60 people. Since then, it has expanded to two larger dining rooms that can seat many more guests.
Because of its reputation and success, in recent years, the family has opened a second location in Encino California too.
When you visit Itzik Hagadol (Translated as ‘Big Itzik’) it is recommended that you walk to the restaurant or catch a taxi as parking is not easy to come by, particularly in the busiest times since Jaffa is a bustling city and space is a commodity.
Autism Travel Tips
- For any sensory issues, this place is best enjoyed off hours when the noise level is reduced.
- If your child is sensitive to the smell of cooking, ask for a table away from the kitchen, which shouldn’t be a problem.
- If your child gets antsy while waiting for their food, you can take them to the front of the restaurant and let them watch how the Laffas bread area is freshly baked.
3 David Raziel St, Jaffa,Israel