Eurovision 2019: Where to eat in Tel Aviv

The best places to sate hunger and quench thirst in Israel’s liveliest city

Shelley Rubenstein
Monday 13 May 2019 14:35
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Food in Tel Aviv

There’s plenty to like about Tel Aviv.

This 24-hour city has the largest collection of Bauhaus architecture in the world, as well as the greatest number of vegans.

Influenced by the population of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and post-war Europeans and their offspring, Tel Aviv appeals to all the senses, from the intoxicating smells and sights of its spices and herbs piled high in the colourful markets to the sounds of traditional music and the calls to prayer.

Its charms are at their most accessible through its food scene, which runs from upscale Mediterranean restaurants to potluck dining experiences.

If you’re in town for Eurovision, here’s where to eat and drink.

HaSalon

HaSalon is the zippiest joint in town, created by chef Eyal Shani. He embraces the mix of “drama between the passion and dedication to food, with the madness of the audience dancing on the tables like there’s no tomorrow”. Diners come for his venerated whole roasted cauliflower, as popularised in his international Miznon restaurants.

Reserve a seat at the bar for a bird’s eye view of Shani’s artistry in motion.

A plain office block conceals the entrance to this Narnia-esque world of creative culinary delights, where chef Moshe Segev ensures there’s wow factor in the presentation of every dish.

The deceptively simple spicy sprout salad remains one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes: it contains a slew of fresh zingers, including beansprouts, radish, kohlrabi, ginger and coriander, all in a chilli sauce.

Dinings

Sitting atop Tel Aviv’s classiest hotel, The Norman, is the only branch outside London of Japanese restaurant Dinings. The Norman’s owner was such a fan of the original London restaurant that he persuaded them to open their second outlet in Tel Aviv, and flies in sushi masters from London to oversee it.

Pull up a chair for a fix of the finest sashimi, nigiri and ceviche, as well as pairings including yuzu kosho-infused white fish ocha-duke and seared beef fillet tataki, served with jalapeno ponzu, cress salad and crispy buckwheat soba tea. Wash it all down with the Sakepolitain, a cocktail of gin, sake and cranberries.

M25

M25’s signature dish is Arayes, a lamb kebab 

Located in the heart of Carmel Market, M25 is a haven for meat lovers, with its superb cuts supplied by the adjoining butcher. The signature dish, Arayes, is a lamb kebab in pitta bread, grilled on charcoal, served with tahini and spicy tomato salad.

OCD serves a tasting menu for just 18 guests 

An open kitchen surrounded by 18 seats is the ultimate experiential dining experience in Tel Aviv. Chef Raz Rahav, previously of London’s Michelin-starred Kitchen Table, dazzles with innovative daily tasting menus.

His current fascination is ”studying vacuum and fermentations”, and ”experimenting with green garlic, artichokes and lime”. Combinations include Jerusalem artichoke gnudi with strawberries and allspice. Booking is essential.

Bellboy

Bellboy‘s Ariel Leizgold trailblazed the cocktail scene in Tel Aviv with this emphasis on obscure and innovative ingredients.

This hip prohibition style bar, behind the front door of the tiny Hotel Berdichevsky, serves concoctions including the popular Holy Water, which includes several Bible-friendly ingredients: eucalyptus syrup, myrrh and frankincense. Drinks are served from prams and a secret garden ensures the raucous fun lasts long into the night.

Imperial Craft Cocktail

A speakeasy hidden away in a modest hotel bearing the same name, Imperial Craft Cocktail is a regular feature on the world’s best bars lists. Owner Bar Shira attributes the Imperial’s popularity to its unerring ability “to take our guest on a journey of flavours, meaning that from the point of entry we will try to evolve with each drink and provide a logical route from start to finish”.

In liquid terms, that results in cocktails such as the Scottish Girl from Ipanema: 10-year-old Glengoyne single malt, coconut cream, passion fruit, almonds, lime and Angostura bitters. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

Mashya

Mace, the translation of Mashya, is the spice that inspired Yossi Shitrit’s Moroccan influenced restaurant in the funky Mendeli Street Hotel, moments away from the beach. Come for its breakfasts such as oven-baked 18 Spices taboon frenna, tahini yoghurt and spicy matbucha.

Beit Kandinof

Since opening in 2018, Beit Kandinof has been a much welcomed addition to the growing dining scene in Jaffa, the ancient Arab port city. The smaller spaces off the main dining room in this historical 20th century building host exhibitions and talks, designed to “provide something for people who don’t normally consume art”.

Beit Kandinof serves small-plate reinterpretations on Middle Eastern classics such as jajik, a mix of steamed greens on sheep’s yoghurt and dill, which scans like a glorious deconstructed tzatziki. Plus, it stays open until the last customer leaves.

Ha’Achim

Ha’Achim, aka The Brothers, is named after the siblings who preside over all aspects of this perennially busy restaurant on one of Tel Aviv’s main roads.

The menu epitomises modern Israel, serving local classics, creamy hummus, grilled challah bread and feta-laden fattoush salad, and an inventively seasoned tahini with pistachios and green onions. There are many crossover dishes popular with both vegans and carnivores, who flock here for its party vibe.

Carmel Market is one of Tel Aviv’s most exciting foodie spots

Where to stay in Tel Aviv

The new 43-room Fabric Hotel pays homage via its moniker to the area’s local industry. Thoughtfully designed with an urban elegance, the hotel also serves one of the best breakfasts in town, which alone is worth a stay. Hotel guests are fast-tracked to the beating heart of Tel Aviv’s social scene at the in-house Bushwick Bar, which is run by the Imperial team (see above), so expect excellent cocktails.

Rooms from $140, B&B

Poli House has an excellent pool

A lobby lined with bright pink egg chairs is the first sign this is no ordinary bland chain hotel. Designer Karim Rashid’s hotel is playful, cool, comfortable and practical.
Rooms from $250, B&B

Both its name and decor were inspired by the Market House Hotel’s proximity to the neighbouring Jaffa flea market. Bedrooms are stylish and those with balconies offer views of the Al-Bahr Mosque, while there are archaeological ruins of a Byzantine Chapel below the glass lobby.

Luxuriate over breakfast, which is served until a very civilised noon.

Rooms from $190, B&B

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