IGLTA President/CEO John Tanzella names his favorite spots to wine and dine in Israel and Jordan.
In Tel Aviv, Israel's most liberal city, the
mayor has said, "One of the most important communities in the city is the gay community, which has made Tel Aviv-Yafo a center not only in Israel, but in the entire Middle East. We are proud to be a gay-friendly city and recognize its potential as a destination for gay travel."
Tel Aviv also has a vibrant dining scene. Some great non-touristy choices include: the affordable Italian wine bar Piccola Pasta, which serves light meals in a cozy atmosphere lined with books and bottles of vino; upscale Toto, which fuses Middle Eastern and Italian fare; and Assif in the hip Neve Tzedek neighborhood, where an attractive staff serves seasonal dishes in an art-lined space.
In Jerusalem, don't miss having a cocktail on the roof of the new Mamilla Hotel, an oasis of marble, stone and glass with views of the old city. For a moderately priced meal, visit Zuni, an airy restaurant/bar open 24 hours a day with great service and an eclectic continental menu.
Amman, Jordan is home to Books@Cafe, a friendly, quaint gathering place in a quiet neighborhood where gay and straight locals mix comfortably. Downstairs is a bookstore and coffee shop; upstairs is an expansive bar with outdoor patio. Madian, the owner, is an amazing resource for LGBT visitors to Jordan.
Russell Lord of Kenes Tours, left, and IGLTA's John Tanzella, right, with the owner of Books@Cafe in Amman.