Although I have written a post with a general guide to Tel Aviv, I thought it was necessary to share a separate post on the Tel Aviv food scene. Fortunately, I have sampled a great variety of excellent food and drink during my visits!
In addition to tasting the exciting culinary delights, the food scene is also entertaining. In fact, the set-up of many restaurants as a central bar with seating around the kitchen seems to be typically Israeli. Therefore you can watch the chefs prepare the food with style, and see what the other guests are having. Eating out is also one of the main cultural and social highlights. It is a time to chat and laugh with friends and colleagues. And it is a good opportunity for people watching and for listening to local music.
This post highlights just a few of my favourite places, and what I found special about each place. They are in no particular order as it is too difficult for me to rank them! Enjoy the food porn from the Tel Aviv food scene.
North Abraxas was one of my favourite restaurants for the food and atmosphere. The sign was only in Hebrew so I had to ask if it was the right place. I had the artichoke with garlic sauce, grilled beetroot carpaccio with yoghurt sauce, a spicy burger, glass of Israeli red wine and honey tart. The plates are cardboard so they can be thrown away. And the kitchen is in the middle of bar seating, so I could watch the preparation. In addition, the music was lively and it was a fun atmosphere.
I had a great time at a cooking class at the Abraham Hostel. We made shakshuka (tomato and poached egg dish), grilled aubergine and cauliflower with olive oil, garlic and paprika, and fresh salad. We prepared Tahini, one mixed with water to thicken and the other mixed with yogurt. The salad had tomato, cucumber, red onion, parsley, mint leaves, lemon juice, olive oil, sumac and zatar. For those who have not tried zatar, it is a mix of sesame seeds, oregano and thyme. Everything was delicious and it was great to meet an Israeli chef and friendly visitors.
Ouzeria is a cosy, casual restaurant. The food and wine were excellent and beautifully presented. I had beetroot ravioli which was thinly sliced beetroot stuffed with goats cheese. Very tasty and light, and definitely the highlight of my meal! I had a glass of Israeli red wine with my sirloin steak slices on pita with tzatziki sauce and tahini. And for dessert I had the semi-freddo almond brûlée with amarena cherries.
A work dinner at Igra rama was a big treat, since we could order many dishes to share. In fact, we mostly had a pescatarian meal with fish and vegetables. The fried feta was a tasty delight. And the pumpkin knaffe was unusual and delicious, in a special sauce. We also had fresh sashimi and couscous. Fresh herbs and greens complemented the dishes. The settling was lovely in the garden terrace dotted with lights.
George and John is located in the Drisco Hotel. I enjoyed a gourmet dining experience in the classy restaurant with two foodie friends from Tel Aviv. My favourite dish was the dessert, because who doesn’t love pistachio profiteroles? However, the entire meal was a delicious mix of flavours, with an emphasis on seafood and fresh veegtables. The tartare cones were impressive with the paper-thin crispy cone filled with tuna tartare.
There are a number of restaurants in and around Tel Aviv by the same chef, Moshe Segev. I went to the one near Hod-Hasharon just outside of Tel Aviv. My work colleagues chose it because it has great good and is also relatively quick. What they didn’t mention is that the portions are large, so I ordered a main course and dessert. Needless to say, I was a little sleepy for the afternoon, but feeling very satisfied.
Manta Ray is a popular restaurant / bar right on the Charles Clore beach. It is great for an outdoor cocktail or other beverage, and there is a casual bar on one side of the building. There is also a more formal dining area with an ocean view.
I was impressed by their chocolate mousse ball with cookie crumbs on a tangerine sauce. It was decadent and rich!
Dallal was the recommended favourite of work colleagues, and I dined here a few times during my trips. The restaurant and the bakery, slightly down the road, are both incredible. Fresh fish, vegetables, and desserts were all beautifully presented. The restaurant is classy with both indoor and outdoor dining.
My friend Caleb and I shared a lunch with small plates. These included hummous, pitta, pickles, falafel, fried cauliflower, lentils, fried potato cakes and smoked aubergines. Lots of food! Also had fresh lemonade for a refreshing coolness, needed in the Tel Aviv heat. Casual, buzzing, communal and fun place to eat lunch!
A tiny, cosy restaurant that would be easy to walk by, but I am glad we found it. We loved sitting at the counter watching the chefs at work. They were preparing some gorgeous dishes that smelled and tasted delicious. The homemade fresh pasta in butter sauce sounded simple but managed to be packed with flavour and richness. The salad had an unusual mix of greens which added crunch. And the dessert finished the meal on a sweet, creamy note.
When in Tel Aviv, definitely have shakshuka for one of your meals. The Israelis typically eat this for breakfast and the Cafe Birenbaum version did not disappoint. I felt like I was having a big lunch to start my day with the tomato egg dish, salad, and fresh juice. All delicious and healthy!
We had a feast of salads and seafood while dining outdoors at HaBasta. Each dish was seasoned to perfection and tasted so fresh. The service was friendly and helpful though a little slow, so be prepared to enjoy a relaxing meal not in a rush.
To finish off the meal we were given a shot of Israeli Aquavit by Jullius.
The Carmel market is full of ingredients, food, and other goods for sale. It is lively and busy, and filled with delicious smells. It’s fun just to walk through and take a look around.
I recommend trying the Jerusalem bagels, falafel wraps, pastries and fresh fruit juices. You can also buy local spices.
Anita Gelato and its sister shop with frozen yoghurt (Fro-Yo) were sweet treats in Tel Aviv during the hot summer days. They have a big variety of flavours, some typical and others more unique such as pavlova and mille-feuille. The ice cream comes with a wafer cookies printed with “Anita”. My only recommendation would be to eat it quickly or it may drip down your hand like in my photo!
The gelato from Arte tasted very natural and had more traditional flavours than some other shops. The gelato may not have been as colourful but I appreciated the nutty pistachio and fruity fig flavours. A great combination that I had never tried before! I still did not learn my lesson and eat fast enough to prevent it dripping down my hand in the sunshine!
To round off my top 3 ice cream / gelato places in Tel Aviv is Golda Glida. I found it by chance on my way from dinner to a concert. The gelato looked too tempting not to stop. Very creamy and fresh with a waffle cookie to top it off. They also squeezed a lot into that little cup. It was melting slower in the evening.
And a few last recommendations…
Choco Lulu for dessert and a fruity mango shake
Cafe Nordoy for breakfast if it still exists?! I could not find a current website. The breakfast here was divine in a classy setting. I had a poached egg and salmon toast with salad, madeleines and cream, and fresh orange juice.
The venue for my friends’ wedding had amazing food, especially the artistic dessert table which they created live. Not sure if you can just turn up and eat or if it needs to be a special event but if you get a chance, try Beit Hasmachot