From the historic alleyways of Jaffa leading north all the way up toward Herzliya, Tel Aviv pulses with energy. The sights and aromas in the shuks and cafes reveal influences of cuisines from throughout the region and around the world. (In this global melting pot, even the most popular breakfast dish in the country, shakshuka, has its roots in Tunisia.) Thanks to gifted chefs, bakers, bartenders and baristas, visitors and locals can eat and drink well through the city all day and late into the night. Exploring this beachfront destination, travelers can gather the culture, creativity, vitality and hospitality of Tel Aviv one bite and sip at a time.
Named for its address, like many Israeli cafes, Herzl 16 is an all-day spot offering a relaxed atmosphere. Located in a neighborhood full of businesses and boutiques, Herzl 16 also has workspaces, a gallery and an events space upstairs, so locals love to hang out in the lush courtyard. The menu features Asian flavors (from tandoori chicken and samosas to gyoza and yakisoba) and a cucumber and watermelon salad with chili that’s spicy and refreshing. At night, cocktails (including the Geisha, made with passion fruit liquor, sake and bitters, garnished with rosemary) flow, and DJs and bands help continue the party.
Located in Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhood, Jaffa, the majestic Beit Kandinof sits in a grand historic building and combines a restaurant, art gallery and event space. With a menu featuring farm-to-table ingredients, Beit Kandinof serves up whole fish with scordalia, citrus-glazed chicken with fermented red cabbage and other inventive Mediterranean-influenced dishes. Smoked eggplant and ricotta dumplings are served in yogurt with mint and chili butter. Desserts focus on comfort, with choices like dark chocolate mousse with cardamom or coconut malabi with orange coulis. Surrounded by art in the main room and the intimate private dining rooms, diners will enjoy meals in a romantic, candlelit haze.
Like so many places all over the world, there’s a tradition of sitting in cafes and drinking coffee in Tel Aviv. Over the past decade, newer and younger establishments have joined in the conversation about what coffee means to daily life. Nahat originally opened cafés in Dizengoff Square and in the Herzliya neighborhood, and earlier this year expanded to open a roastery and café in Hatachana. In September the coffee community gathered for a Coffee Festival with their friends and colleagues from around the city including Ada Hamina Café, Cafelix and HOC.
Ida Skovmand and Aviv Meshulam in collaboration with Shira Petel of Shaffa opened Dama in the heart of Jaffa. They fill their café with local flea market finds and serve specialty coffee drinks in cups made by ceramicist Nur Minawi. Baked treats include Portuguese natas, cardamom buns, cube-shaped canelé and small cakes. Their signature breakfast is a chilled shakshuka made with a Moroccan tomato paprika salad topped with a fried egg. Dama is also a wine bar with special daily menus—for example orange wines with corresponding colorful bites—and it aims never to be boring.
The Library Bar at the Norman Hotel
Not only offering boutique accommodation, The Norman Hotel near Rothschild Avenue is also a cocktail and culinary destination in Tel Aviv. To the right of the entrance, past a Batman sculpture, is the The Library Bar where the cocktail menu focuses on classics. Their signature gin and tonic is made with the gin specially crafted for them by Jullius, a local distillery that makes botanical spirits and eau de vies. Chefs Omar Shadmi and Daniel Tzur also create the soulful menu at the hotel’s restaurant, Alena—a wonderful spot for dinner after (or before) your drinks.
The first indoor market and food hall in Tel Aviv, Sarona Market opened in 2015 and has become a destination for locals and visitors. The building features dozens of choices by some of the country’s most celebrated chefs. At Eyal Shani’s Miznon, try his fluffy and pillowy filled pitas and sides of cauliflower, eggs and eggplant. Continue the food adventure with falafel and hummus by Hakosem, ramen by Yuval Ben Neriah, sandwiches by Rachel Ben Elul and hamburgers by Meat Bar. Along the way, there are shops filled with spices, nuts, cheeses, pastries, tea, coffee and more.
From the same people who turned Herzl 16 into a local favorite, Hotel Montefiorie is known for being a gathering spot for artists and creatives. The 1920s building, at one time a private residence, has been transformed into a boutique hotel filled with the work of contemporary Israeli artists. The restaurant is focused on French cuisine with Vietnamese influences, while bartenders make cocktails with locally sourced herbs in their cozy bar.
Housed in a large multi-level historic building constructed in 1867, Beit Romano (in the laidback and trendy Florentin neighborhood) now pulses with performances, restaurants and bars but originally housed a torah center and yeshiva. Music, comedy shows, film screenings and more take place in the central courtyard alongside Eyal Shani’s Teder FM, Romano, Nuweiba record shop and Mirage x Jazz Kissa. A three-minute walk away, is Levinsky Market—another essential. Filled with small bakeries, cafes and shops, the market is perfect to wander on your own or with a guide (who can pre-order dishes to ensure you taste the best of what’s on offer). Highlights include Gazoz from Café Levinsky 41, Persian stew from Sabzi Gourmet, Georgian cheese bread from Khachapurim, goat-cheese-stuffed peppers at Yom Tov Deli, flaky bourekas at Bourekas Shel Ima, pastries at Pizza Liyela, local brews at Beer Bazaar and decadent eggplant and egg pitas at Sabich Frishman.
Ask a chef where they like to eat on their night off and many will recommend HaBasta. Located at the west corner of the Carmel shuk, some of the most creative and delicious food in the city is served at HaBasta, an eatery recognized as one of the Middle East North Africa 50 Best Restaurants. Chef Elon Amir champions local ingredients with his inventive interpretations of Israeli classics that incorporate influences from around the globe. There’s also a focus on fresh fish and seafood. The menu changes often with offerings of aged beef, sweet breads and house made pastas. At this relaxed restaurant, the dining space spills out into the open air on the edge of the Carmel Market.
Hero image of Beit Kandinof