Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Tel Aviv ....Zion's Culinary Capital
Tel Aviv is nothing short of being the culinary capital of Israel. Local restaurateurs travel the world, train to become top-tier chefs, and bring their knowledge back to this side of the Mediterranean, offering a range of flavors from across the globe
Influenced by the rise of fusion cuisine in the 20th century, local Israeli chefs have become known for their proclivity to combine tastes, flavors and ingredients from the Middle East, upgraded by French and Italian cooking methods and vice versa. The result is not only mouth-watering but also exceptionally original.
Restaurants dot Tel Aviv's streets from north to south, with a large concentration around Rothschild Boulevard, Ibn Gvirol Street and the bustling, though off-the-beaten-track, area of Ramat HaChayal. Many of the places are moderately priced and most restaurants offer a fixed lunch "business" menu. Unlike other locations in the country (such as Jerusalem), the majority of the restaurants are not kosher, and therefore are open throughout the weekend, including Saturday. It’s best to make reservations, especially when it comes to dinner or if you’re after a meal at the high-end places in town.
Middle Eastern Food
Leave your cravings for pizza and french fries at home. As international as Tel Aviv is, with its sophisticated cultural scene and haute cuisine standards, your experience of Israel is not complete until you try some local, simple and delicious fare.
This earthy, creamy blend of chickpeas, lemon and tahini is perhaps the king of classic Israeli foods. Originally from Arab lands where it is eaten as a breakfast food, hummus consumption is now reportedly twice as high in Israel as it is in its Arab neighbors. Recommending “the best hummus in Israel” is a tricky business – Try it for yourself at Abu Hassan.
Abu Hassan, 1 Dolphin St, Jaffa
Brought to Israel by Iraqi immigrants, is the mouth-watering treat Sabich. All wrapped in pita is salad, egg, eggplant, tahini, hummus, various greens and an array of spices to tempt the palate. Grab one at the famous Oved Sabich in Givatayim.
Oved Sabich, 7 Sirkin St, Givatayim or Sabich Frishman 42 Frishman St, Tel Aviv
Tahini condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds, with a consistency similar to peanut butter. Tahini is used in Lebanese, Armenian, Greek, Cypriot, Iranian, Israeli, Turkish, Iraqi, Levantine, and North African cuisines. Tahini is served as a dip on its own or as a major component of hummus, baba ghanoush, and halva.
To make tahini, sesame seeds are soaked in water for a day, then crushed to separate the bran from the kernels. The crushed seeds are put into salted water, where the bran sinks, but the kernels float and are skimmed off the surface. They are toasted, then ground to produce their oily paste. There are two types of tahini, light and dark, and the light ivory version is considered to have both the best flavor and texture.
Tahini is most closely associated with the Middle East, where it is eaten as is, and often used in making hummus (mashed chickpeas, flavored with lemon juice and garlic), baba ghanoush (a purée of eggplant, lemon juice, garlic, and oil), halvah (a confection that includes honey or cane syrup), and other traditional dishes.
The king of Israeli fast food, falafel are balls made of mashed chickpeas, fried and usually eaten in a pita with salad and sauce. Almost every corner in the city has a small kiosk claiming to prepare the best falafel in town, offering all kinds of sides and salads included in the reasonable price. Since 1946, falafel lovers have been flocking to Gabai Falafel (and actually waiting in line) for their perfectly crispy options.
Gabai Falafel, 25 Bograshov St
Resembling huevos rancheros and eaten with bread, Shakshuka is a simple but tasty concoction of poached eggs with tomatoes, cooked in a medley of onions, peppers, and spices. Try authentic Libyan tastes at the famous Dr. Shakshuka.
Dr. Shakshuka, 3 Beit Eshel, Jaffa
Yemenite Jews brought with them jachnun, a rolled, thin, sweet pastry slowly cooked for 10 hours and eaten with hard-boiled eggs, grated tomato and hot sauce. Both jachnun and its pancake-like cousin malawach are beloved by Israelis.
Mama's Jachnun, 34 Yitzhak Sade St
Tel Aviv is a city of culinary trends. While last year tapas ruled the culinary kingdom, this year market restaurants are grabbing all the attention. Fresh, colorful and often with an open kitchen helmed by happy chefs, these restaurants bring the bustling market vibe to otherwise ordinary streets, and the markets' fresh tastes straight to your plate.
From a wicked medley of Arabic music playing overhead, to the nonstop action happening in the open kitchen, La Shuk manages to bridge the authenticity of the organized chaos of the shuk with the fun, boisterous atmosphere of a trendy, big city restaurant and bar.
La Shuk, 92 Dizengoff St, 03-6033117
Located in Tel Aviv Port's indoor market, at Kitchen Market find dishes such as fresh salad with homemade cured tuna, pizza margarita with buffalo mozzarella and cheese tortellini served on aubergine cream fillet of cod with vegetables – all while rubbing elbows with some of Tel Aviv's most trendy clientele.
Kitchen Market, Hangar 12, Tel Aviv Port
Top restaurateur, tomato fanatic and local celebrity chef Eyal Shani helms Abraxas North, one of Tel Aviv's most talked-about restaurants. The food here is innovative, smart and inspiring.
North Abraxas, 40 Lilienblum St, 03-5166660
Mizlala highlights everything that made Chef Meir Adoni a star: the use of excellent ingredients handled in a way that merges traditional home-cooking approaches from the best cuisines all over the world with updated techniques. With lovable reviews from the New York Times, the extensive bar offers a selection of cocktails and an excellent wine list.
Mizlala, 57 Nahalat Binyamin, 03-5665505
A perennial favorite since it opened, Brasserie's sleek decor, Parisian-inspired dishes and round-the-clock availability make it a hot spot.
Brasserie, 70 Ibn Gvirol St, 03-6967111
Chef and owner Victor Gloger presides over this gourmet eatery that enjoys a stellar reputation. The chic design and romantic ambience are a great setting for an excellent meal.
Chloélys, 16 Abba Hillel St, Ramat Gan, 03-5759060
Seafood, meat dishes and plenty of fresh produce serve as the main staples of award-winning chef Yonatan Roshfeld’s sizzling kitchen. A new, kosher branch just opened in Herzylia as well.
Herbert Samuel, 6 Koifman St, 03-5166516
Ritz Carlton Hotel, Herzylia Pituach
This modern Mediterranean bistro is equipped with balconies overlooking Tel Aviv’s coastline. The menu includes breakfasts, fixed-menu lunches and a varied dinner selection. The place is also well-stocked with a wine and cocktail bar.
Gordo, 2 Gordon St, 03-5206100
Don’t be fooled by the name: Coffee Bar is actually a lively restaurant featuring Italian-influenced fare and upscale comfort food that far exceeds its simple name.
Coffee Bar, 13 Yad Harutzim St, 03-6889696
When Neve Tzedek’s NG opened several years ago, it introduced succulent cuts of meat that had never been savored in this city. Try everything from appetizers to desserts – it all tastes incredible, down to the veggie options.
NG, 6 Ahad HaAm St, 03-5167888
With its mix of highly accomplished Italian dishes, excellent seafood and smart diners, Toto is especially loved by local in-the-know gourmands. Chef Yaron Shalev helms the restaurant, creating colorful and tasty dishes that exude quality.
Toto, 4 Berkowitz St, 03-6935151
Located in the restored historic Palatin House, Tel Aviv’s first hotel, this French – influenced restaurant is all about that succulent cut of meat we like to call steak. Kosher.
L'Entrecote, 28 Ahad HaAm St, 03-5163703
Kalimera is located at the Jaffa Port, right on the sea, at the foot of Jaffa's old city. From the day it was opened, Kalimera received excellent reviews from all over. The eatery boasts the combination of a beautifully designed location, fun music and well thought-out food – delicious yet inexpensive.
Kalimera, Jaffa Port, south entrance, Warehouse 1, 03-6823232
Right on the Mediterannean Sea, this restaurant’s long veranda is a great place for fine dining while enjoying the stunning view. The specialty here is gourmet seafood.
Manta Ray, Alma Beach, 03-5174773
Tapas Ahad Ha’am
With a bustling kitchen, this lively joint offers dozens of tapas every night, made from the freshest raw materials. A gathering spot for young people and culinary enthusiasts, every Monday features seafood dishes inspired by Israel and abroad. Chef Yonatan Roshfeld promises an exciting redefinition of the concept of tapas.
Tapas Ahad Ha'am, 27 Ahad HaAm St, 03-5666966
Tapas Ahad Ha'am.
Dining Room (Heder Ochel)
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes with a twist of European flair. Moderately priced and delicious.
Dining Room, 23 Shaul HaMelech Blvd, at the Performing Arts Center complex, 03-6966188
Makom Shel Basar (A Place for Meat)
Serving the finest cuts of house-aged meat in the city. Kosher.
Makom Shel Basar, 64 Shabazi St , 03-5104020
This ancient Latin word "popina" means "kitchen," and this chef's restaurant certainly holds true to its namesake: located in an ancient building with retro stained – glass windows, open stone walls and an expansive garden. The menu is categorized by different creative preparation techniques and allows for full taste exploration.
Popina, 3 Ahad Ha'Am, Neve Tzedek, 03-5757477
This charming Italian restaurant and wine bar is welcoming with its imported European decor and its quality local and Italian imported ingredients. Fresh Italian pizzas straight from the brick oven, imported Italian wines and deliciously authentic Italian starters and dishes.
Piazza Dizengoff, 99 Dizengoff, 03- 5274488
This seafood and wine bar is one of the latest culinary additions to the historic Jaffa Port’s up-and-coming market. Fresh crab bisque, fish & chips, calamari – all you could want from the sea at nearly market prices!
Rokach Yam, Hangar 1, Jaffa Port, 03-6294141/2
Cassis is a coastal restaurant offering Mediterranean cuisine along a beautiful beach which combines old world Jaffa with modern style. The restaurant’s design of white and turquoise colors create a relaxing atmosphere for you to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner or private events year round.
Cassis, Givat Aliya beach, Jaffa, 03-5753745
SuzannaSuzanna specializes in Mediterranean style eats, with a variety of hot and cold apps, entres and desserts. Located in Tel Aviv’s upscale Neve Tzedek neighborhood, one will find quite a magical environment, filled with Ficus trees, sea breezes and a fantastic perch from which to see and be seen. With a paired wine menu to boot, Suzanna allows for classic local fare, outdoor terraces and a first-rate dining experience.
Suzanna, 9 Shabazi St, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, 05-79443060
Messa’s impressive white-on-white dining room – and black-on-black bar evoke the style of New York or London, while its menu of luxe-Levantine dishes by Chef Aviv Moshe evokes flavors of the Middle East.
Messa, 19 HaArba’a St, Tel Aviv, 03-6856859
Capitalizing on the Israeli predilection for breakfast, a young group of restauranteurs opened Benedict, a place serving breakfast day and night. The menu is vast and features meals inspired by breakfast tastes and traditions from around the world.
Benedict, 171 Ben Yehuda St, Tel Aviv, 03-5440345
29 Rothschild Blvd, Tel Aviv, Open 24/703-6868657
Ramat Yam St 1, Herzliya, 09-9580701
An established bistro and bakery, dessert at Dellal is a romantic affair, catering to seasoned diners. Take a seat outside on the patio, surrounded by greenery, or cozy up inside in a leather quilted booth. Dellal sprawls over a number of beautiful rooms and spaces surrounding a central stone courtyard that has been lightly modernized and refurbished in a style honoring the original architecture of Neve Tzedek’s quaint neighborhood.
Dellal, 10 Shabazi St, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, 03-5109292
Offering completely local and organic fare, Meshek Barzilai caters to the health-conscious food lover. With full Israeli-style breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, gift baskets and more, this cozy hot-spot even has a delicious children’s menu that any kiddo will love. Offering baking workshops, lectures and events, this delicious eatery provides high-end menu offerings featuring focaccia, shakshuka, pancakes, punjabi, fuyu yazi, swiss chard, and more.
Meshek Barzilay, 6 AhadHa’am St, Tel Aviv, 03-5166329
Anita invites you for an enchanted experience in a cozy atmosphere. This home-made Italian ice cream shop offers heavenly cold treats, sugar-free sorbet, organic milk ice cream, frozen yogurt and delicious sauces.
Anita, 42 Shabazi St, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, 03-6838730
Reviva & Celia
The clean, sleek and delicious space of Reviva and Celia represents the best of Tel Aviv’s restaurant culture. With items ranging from espresso drinks, a fresh selection of pastries, carpaccio and fish-of-the-day, this is not only a place to be seen, it is a place to please your tastiest of desires.
Reviva & Celia, 24 Ha’Arbaa, 03- 5618517
10 Nissim Aloni, 03-5466090