By Naomi L. Baum
Whether you are a first-time visitor to Jerusalem or you make your permanent home here, Bitemojo’s tasting tour of Jerusalem will help you discover a Jerusalem you never knew. Start by downloading the Bitemojo free app to your cellphone. After signing up, decide which gourmet tasting tour you would like, pay the fee (around $30, or NISÂ 100, per tour), and you will be able to access your route, including maps, points of interest, and, most important, your “bites.”
The “bite” is Bitemojo’s secret to success. When you begin your self-guided tour, you will be directed to various eateries around Jerusalem. You will be given clear walking instructions, a map, a picture of the place, and some background on the proprietor, the building, or the place. Upon arrival, you click on the bite displayed on your phone and present it to the proprietor or waitress. Then, all you have to do is wait–and prepare to be surprised.
On a recent tour, we started with a “bite” consisting of a generous plate of creamed gnocchi in beetroot sauce at the upscale Luciana’s restaurant in Mamilla. Sitting in this restaurant decorated in Tuscany style, it was hard to stop from ordering more food, but we knew that we had better save some room. Next we stopped off for a glass of boutique Israeli beer at Birateinu on Yanai Street, where we not only enjoyed the beer but were entertained by the knowledgeable owner and learned about the burgeoning home-brewing scene in Israel. After that we headed up to the famous Machane Yehuda market, where we were treated to chili con carne and a chaser of beer at Beer Bazaar, and a delicious half of a South American Sandwich at Pepitos. All this was had for less than the price of a meal. We saved the Belgian waffle for another day; we were stuffed!
There are a variety of tours available at Bitemojo, ranging from a Machane Yehuda tour (veggie option available), a Jerusalem nightlife tour, a pub crawl, and more. Most tours are strictly kosher, although you should definitely double check when you make your reservation.
One of the great pleasures of the Bitemojo tour is its self-guided nature. You decide your pace, how much you want to eat, and whether you want to take detours or not. You can start the tour one day and finish it the next. The app provides background information on the places you will visit, as well as some historical facts and interesting stories. You can choose to follow the walking tour, or just focus on the bites. Another wonderful feature is that most of the proprietors are primed to not only feed the Bitemojo guests but also to chat with them, allowing you an opportunity to get to know some of the real folks in Jerusalem.
This is a tour for people who like doing things on their own, love food, and enjoy going off the beaten track. Many longtime visitors to Jerusalem will be pleasantly surprised to discover a side of Jerusalem that is new to them.
Naomi L. Baum, Ph.D., is a psychologist who consults worldwide in the field of trauma and resilience. She likes to spend her spare time traveling with her husband and scuba-diving and hiking with her children and grandchildren.