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Canela, Jerusalem

8 Shlomzion HaMalka Street
Tel: 972 2 622 2293's insider take:

First opened in 2005 and set behind a wall of street-front windows in downtown Jerusalem, Canela got a major overhaul in late 2008 with the arrival of young chef Lior Haftzadi. He has given the contemporary Mediterranean bistro a lighter, fresher touch, focusing on seasonal ingredients and top Israeli wines. Now considered a leader in Jerusalem's culinary upswing, Canela is luring both young Jerusalem professionals and more adventurous religious types. Like most Jerusalem restaurants, Canela is kosher: Its meat-based menu eschews all dairy products. Instead, you'll find unexpected touches of Asian and Middle Eastern flavors on the menu. An appetizer of chestnut gnocchi, for instance, arrives colorfully spiked with chives and bathed in a sauce of coconut milk. Grilled chicken livers—an Eastern European classic—are surprisingly sweetened with dates, while raisins add texture and taste to a hearty beef stew. Book a window seat to watch the downtown Jerusalem bustle, an urban tableau ranging from skater kids to ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

Open Sundays through Thursdays noon to 4 pm and 6 pm to midnight, Fridays 11am to 3pm, and Saturdays after sundown to midnight.

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