For your next trip to Tel Aviv, you might want to try some of these places. Nowhere near a foodie guide to the white city (we would need a few years to eat enough), this post summarizes the places we ate at and loved, although you could sit pretty much anywhere in town and have great food. As a rule of thumb, the busiest (with locals, not tourists mind you!), the noisiest, and the casualest – the better!
1. OasisOASIS, Tchernikovsky 1, Tel Aviv, Israel (Facebook)
A few minutes walk from the HaCarmel Market we found Oasis. Not our first choice as the menu was very global with a strong pan-asian influence. We came here to eat middle-eastern food, but it looked nice and friendly enough (and the only decent place we found open during shabbat near our hotel). We started with some grilled fake porcini (king mushrooms marinated in truffle oil & porcini essence) with grated parmesan. Delicious!
Then an absolutely mind-blowing aubergine fritters on burned tomato gazpacho. The fries melted just like vanilla ice-cream in the sun. We asked for their secret, which turned out to be the aubergine type used: baladi aubergines! Those fatty & ugly boys are common here, but good luck finding them back home :( Definitely one of the best dish we ate in a while!
We then took a healthy serving of Asmara, which is an Eritrean specialty with grilled beef, king mushrooms, and lentil salad on a fluffy pancake! Absolutely stunning! The awesome chef Rima Olvera told us that the beef is marinated in a garlic & black pepper paste, which was a common way to conserve food without a fridges.
2. Port Said
PORT SAID, Har sinai 5, Tel Aviv, Israel
Definitely by locals for locals (as in Hebrew-only menu), a very casual place to sample some solid Israeli food. We had a potato salad served in a paper bag (simple and great), a bread salad (tomatoes, onions, toasted bread, cucumber, parsley, loads of lemon – super refreshing), some super tasty fresh livers with tahini and grilled spring onions (heavy duty stuff). Finished with a marinated herring, which was delicious, but quite oily, salty, heavy, oniony & fishy, so not for everyone!
3. Cafe Mezada
CAFE MEZADA, 83 Hayarkon St, Tel Aviv, Israel
Behind its tourist trap appearance, this absolutely central terrace became our daily go-to refuge for a coffee/juice/snack! Overlooking the beach, they offer freshly pressed juices and very decent food such as burned aubergine with lentil salad on tahini (delicious!!), kuku sabzi (a persian omelet filled with herbs, you might try this “less herby” version as well) and great shakshukas. Not the most authentic place in town, but definitely loads of Israeli and international food.
4. ShtsupakSHTSUPAK, 256 Ben Yehuda, Tel Aviv, Israel
At the end of Ben Yehuda lies Shtsupak, a very casual seafood venue that will satisfy all your sub-aquatic cravings. A great selection of delicious mezze, ranging from the ubiquitous tahini (with yoghurt), to pepper (hot) & pepper (black) pickles, to icra (roe with fresh onions), and freshly baked pita will help you browse through the menu (or fill you up already).
We got a grilled sea bass, which was delicious although a bit overcooked and some awesome seafood fritters (shrimps & calamari) which came with an amazing dill-based tartare sauce. If you’re not into fish, you won’t find much more on the menu (unless you’re into deserts), nonetheless it is an absolutely great place with simple, delicious, and honest food. Did we mention the mezze selection is on the house?
5. Wineberg Wine barWINEBERG, 106 Ben Yehuda, Tel Aviv, Israel
A relatively new place in town, you will find here a great and friendly atmosphere, packed with locals sipping good Israeli wine and cocktails and delicious snacks. The tapas were decent, but you’ll need to eat quite a few of them to fill up. We had marinated figs in white sangria filled with crème fraîche, caramelised livers with salty toffee on a bruschetta (umami-packed and crunchy, excellent!), green salsa with tahini and crisps, and grilled peaches with cambozola in salad (classic winning combo). Definitely the perfect place to digest your dinner with a great drink and meet friendly locals.
6. Café @ TLV88
TLV88, 88 Hayarkon St, Tel Aviv, Israel
Not sure it’s the right name, but it’s the terrace of the boutique hotel TLV88 and literally across the street from café Mezada. They offer kosher food for decent prices. We were a bit disappointed because they didn’t have all the things on the menu which we wanted the most, but it was worth trying some dishes such as the salmon and apple carpaccio or burnt eggplant with Nile perch.
I’m sure there are many place we missed while there, but we’ll be back! As you can tell, our favourite ingredient right now is tahini, so if you have a delicious recipe with tahini, please tell us about it!!