Israel used to be a practical, early-to-bed and early-to-rise country, but in Tel Aviv, and increasingly elsewhere, late dining has become the trend. For travelers who want to get an early start in the morning, or want to take in an evening performance, Israel has become the land of the luncheon special -- in many restaurants, the fabulous weekday lunch specials last until 5pm, or even later! Once the lunch deadline passes, the cost of a meal can double or even triple!
For those in a rush, or on a tight budget, the local falafel and shwarma sandwiches, stuffed breads, and the Iraqi-style sabbiyah are healthy and filling. In general, tip waitstaff 10% unless a service charge has already been added to the bill. When paying by credit card, leave the tip in cash so it can be picked up directly by your server.
Nonsmokers should be aware of the fact that lighting up is not nearly as frowned upon in Israel as it is in North America. This practice is gradually changing, but there are plenty of restaurants that won't even have a nonsmoking section.
If you have a hotel room with a fridge and keep kosher, or just want to have some food for Friday and Saturday, plan to shop for supplies on Friday, as shops and supermarkets will be closed for the Sabbath. A selection of nonkosher restaurants in big cities will stay open on the Sabbath.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.