Dining at Jaffa’s Itzik Hagadol Restaurant

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.

Dining at Jaffa's Itzik Hagadol Restaurant salads


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.

Dining at Jaffa's Itzik Hagadol Restaurant mosaic

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.

The Food

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.

Dining at Jaffa's Itzik Hagadol Restaurant lemonade
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



Guide to Cruising with Allergies

One of my readers contacted me this week asking for my tips when traveling with children with autism that also have food allergies. As spring break and summer are fast approaching, I thought I’d share some tips to use for your next cruise or all-inclusive resort stay.


cruising with allergies ship ship view

 Planning stage

Contact your company and ask the representative
All cruise lines in the USA have a special needs department known as Access or the Disability Desk
Royal Caribbean

Make sure you contact them as soon as possible and have the representative tag your booking as ‘special needs ‘so they can be aware of your particular circumstances.

  • Follow up with a detailed email or phone call.
  • If you call do write down the representative’s name and his/her extension.
  • Verify with the cruise line whether you can bring any drinks, snacks, prepackaged foods on board for use and if your cabin is or can be equipped with a refrigerator.
  • Print out a detailed but simple list of allergen foods since everyone is a little different.
  • Make multiple copies of your list to use on board and consider translating into different languages to use on shore excursions.
  • Get your doctor to write a letter specifying your needs along with the diagnosis and other pertinent information.If you want to bring pre-packed snacks (many countries will not let you bring any open foods ashore) on shore excursions, you might have to translate this letter too.
  • If your traveler with autism is young and nonverbal, you might want to check using temporary tattoos to inform temporary babysitters or caregivers (kids clubs) about his/her allergies.

    cruising with allergies promenade view

    Packing stage


  • Pack the foods and drinks you have cleared with your cruise line Don’t forget snacks for the shore excursions.Two good websites to look at http://www.minimums.biz/ and http://www.picnic.com/
  • You might consider bringing, at least, one (two if the child is young) set of bed sheets, pillow and a thin blanket to avoid any contact allergy from the industrial soap the hotels and cruise lines use.
  • Bring your laundry detergent, soap, and shampoo to prevent unnecessary complications.
  • Do not forget the medicines to treat the allergies, including those in the time of an actual allergy attack.
  • Pack everything you need for your allergy traveler in your hand luggage and do not let it out of your sight.
    cruising with allergies food

       On  Board


  • Notify your cabin attendant of your particular needs, including the fact you do not want your home provided sheets washed with the general load and whether certain detergents should not be used in the cabin while you are occupying it.
  • Make sure the cabin vent is not directly over the person’s bed.
  • Talk to the Main Dining Room Maître D’ and give him/her a copy of the food allergens. Ask for a small table that should be cleared of gluten products (even crumbs) especially if you have the late seating or anytime dining.
  • If not already suggested by maître d’, ask to speak to the chef and coordinate how you can be accommodated. Most cruise lines will ask you to preorder the GFCF meal a day in advance so make sure you order at least two viable options for your traveler with autism, especially if he/she is nonverbal and young.
  • Tell the dining room servers what foods to be avoided, and ask for fries or a veggie platter to be ready on your table in case the GFCF food is later than other dishes, so your autistic person will have something to nibble on.
  • If you intend to eat at the Buffet, then go and have a quick chat with the chef about your autistic globetrotter’s preferences. Ask to double check labels as many products appear GFCF but are no such as salad dressings and pre- mixed sauces.
  • For those highly allergic, ask the staff about the different dishes and methods of preparation to avoid cross contamination was much as possible. While helping yourself to food in the buffet area substitute the set thongs with a clean fork or ask the staff to bring a fresh set from the back.For foods prepared before you such as omelets insist on the cook using a new pan and utensils.Be extra careful with cross contamination when you eat off the soft ice cream or yogurt machines if cones are offered.
  • FAMILY TIPS Quantum of the Seas,allergies kids club

Kids’ Clubs

Inform the general manager as well as the daily staff what items are forbidden.
If possible, give your printed food allergens page each day to the caregiver in charge, in case the prior one got misplaced.

Shore Excursions Desk

Let them know that you wish to bring food on trips, so it does not become a point of contention and misunderstanding the day of the actual trip when everyone is anxious to go sightseeing, and your family is perceived as keeping everyone back.

cruising with allergies cabin


If you or your family member are on a GFCF diet or suffer from allergies, how do you keep healthy and safe while cruising?
                                                         Revised October 17, 2015.

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