How appealing does fresh, flavorful ice cream sound on a hot and dry afternoon? The heat in Palestine was almost unbearable at times, reaching 39 degrees celsius (102 fahrenheit) 🔥, but ice cream was always a cure to my sticky and impatient strolls through the balad.
That and of course, I had to buy something with all the single shekels weighing down in my pocket. So, in Ramallah - (my favorite part of Palestine) I tried a few different places...and returned to the same ones because they were so delicious in different ways! Palestinian ice cream shoppe reviews were requested by wonderful PaliRooters, so we came to deliver (referenced in no particular order).
1. Gala Palestine Gelato Boutique
The elegance of the title, “Gala” makes it worthy to take a seat inside the two story and spacious boutique. In my opinion, this was the classiest sweet shoppe in Palestine. There are contrasting tiled floors, velvety seating booths, and plenty of LED lights for photo worthy shots. Everything was themed towards greenery, so the plant decor near the dining area added so much life to the space!
Gala’s menu is made up of plenty of flavors. They offer crepes, milkshakes, coffees, and more in addition to their ice cream. Their gelato is made frequently in house and can be easily noticed by their mountainous displays. Flavors of gelato include Pistachio, Cheesecake, and Lotus amongst the total of 24 choices. The dessert that caught my attention was the frozen yogurt! The toppings in Gala aren't standard, which I was pretty skeptical about. Where was the cookie dough or fudge brownie bites? I forgot I was in a different country - because their authentic and rich chocolate sauces and fresh granola proved to be much tastier. Overall - Gala was a 4/5. Off to a pretty good start!
Be sure to visit and follow Gala on Facebook and Instagram! @GalaPalestine
2. Rukab’s Ice Cream
If you live in Palestine and haven’t heard of “Boozet Rukab”, you must be living under a rock! Rukab’s Ice Cream has been around since 1941, when it opened up as a cafe and the location has been the same ever since! And to continue with tradition and simplicity, most of the tables are striped black and white while the chairs are bright red. There’s barely any space with the overflowing amount of people eager to get a bite, so most customers are typically in and out.
Rukab’s Ice Cream is the most traditional when it comes to stretchy, gooey, and unique Palestinian ice cream. It’s not gelato, and it's nowhere near softserve. The texture of Rukab’s Ice Cream is thanks to the secret ingredient of Arabic Gum. Pretty self explanatory. But in all, Rukab is known for their classic 5 scoops - lemon, pistachio, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. Because I was there to have a bit of nontraditional fun, I always went for the ice cream flavors of Coffee, Caramel, and Mars (inspired by the chocolate bar!). A small cup that can include up to 3 flavors averages about 10 shekels, about $3 and 11 cents - and in comparison to the US, not too much of a difference. On my scale of stars, I’ll give Rukab a 4.
3. Baladna Ice Cream
Two brothers opened up the sister shop of Rukab, called Baladna, in 1992. To this date, they’ve opened additional locations (two in Ramallah specifically) and provide their ice cream in many supermarkets and mini marts. Out of 48 flavors, I’ll tell you first hand, it was hard to choose! Baladna also has soft serve and sorbets. And because their classic ice cream is also created with Arabic gum, they use fresh powder milks to enhance the thickness and stretch. I personally went for the flavors Knafeh and Lemon + Mint. I had never seen those flavors anywhere else within my month-long stay in Palestine, so I stuck with those everytime I returned to Baladna! Rating: 5/5.
4. Artoos Ice Cream Parlor
Located in Rawabi City, this cute dessert shoppe offered my cousins and I the tastiest Nutella crepes and classic gelato! The staff was incredibly welcoming and considerate and let us sample a few flavors. I went with the fabulous White Chocolate Hershey’s while my cousins loved their edition of Wild Berries. I rate this shoppe a 3/5!
5. Vienna Cafe
This is a NECESSARY bonus. However, it's not actually ice cream. In Palestine, they call these ‘soft waffle balls’ covered in chocolate “fashafeesh”. Nobody really knows why it’s called that, but besides the point, these are heavenly and feel like air (with lotus crumbs on top!). It’s pretty easy to eat a handful before you know it. Vienna is located on the corner of the intersection of Mazra’a al Sharqya. It is is a quick stop for cars passing by to pick up a coffee or a smoothie. Sahib al mahal (the owner) is a kind and hard worker, so definitely pick up some of these treats with a side of hospitality! 6/5 - must try!