After a longer period of time of cooking at home I started dining out more in Tel Aviv and stumbled upon a couple of amazing places I'd like to share with you. Tel Aviv really has a lot of things to offer and we should take advantage of it. I really think these are rather eating experiences than just places and of course as always value for money is one of the more important indicators. Let's get started:
Breakfast and Brunch experiences
Mashya, Centre TLV
This is a chef restaurant led by Yossi Shitrit located in the lobby of a boutique hotel on Mendeli Street. I also had dinner there a couple of weeks ago and I must say that I was absolutely amazed by the great meal we had. This place feels like Israel’s first steps towards its own distinct cuisine. However, I’d like to mention it at this point for its breakfast. On the weekend it’s a little hard to get a reservation but during the week you can come between 10-11 am when the amazing breakfast buffet opens also for guests outside the hotel. Listen, it’s nuts. Dozens of different kinds of cheeses, salads, breads, salmon and herring; followed by cakes and fruits. You can order egg dishes which range from 88 and 98 NIS including the buffet or go for the solo buffet which will cost you 70 NIS. The quality is outstanding.
Mendeli 5, Tel Aviv
Maybe you've heard about the genius chef's Raz Rahav (age 26!!!) restaurant OCD located in the Noga neighborhood in Yafo which he named after his own Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In the evening they have a 9-11 course menu in the worth of..... buckle up.... 315 NIS. Yes, this is a little bit much for most of us. I dreamt of going there for a while however my cheap gene didn't let me to make the call - until I heard that the OCD hosts a monthly brunch on every last Friday of every month. It's a 6 course brunch costing 180 NIS. This made a bit more sense to me and I made a reservation on the first open Friday. It's a huge bar seating 20 people having a simultaneous dining experience. While you sit there and enjoy little fried tapioca snacks and beef tartar in chicory you see immediately the OCD in every corner of the establishment. I've probably never seen such dedication to every detail in gastronomy. Every course is prepared in front of you making it to a real exciting experience. After the amuse-bouche we got grouper carpaccio, trout Wellington followed by a duck terrine as a main course. The desert was a phenomenal honey parfait with berries and homemade ice cream. Corking fee is 65 NS per bottle and they really don't make you feel weird about bringing your own wine. If your group is 4 and more then you pay a onetime corking fee of 40 and can bring as many bottles as you want (also in the evening apparently).
Tirtsa 17, Tel Aviv
Tel: 03 - 5566774
Asian food expiriences
Fifi's Asian Food, Florentine
Fifi is a lovely young lady who has a tiny place in the Florentine neighbourhood. She used to operate like a normal restaurant, however she changed her format a couple of weeks ago and focuses now on food festivals and cooking courses. I was super lucky to try her restaurant food two days before she closed her regular activity and changed to the new schedule. I was mind blown. This level of Asian food I have not encountered much in Tel Aviv. It was colourful, fresh, simple and full of amazing tastes and sophistication. The Asian corner in my cooking repertoire is pretty modest and her food made me want to focus on this kind of cuisine in the coming weeks. (Just by the way i found this amazing site where I want to learn from).
Back to Fifi; we had an amazing Tuna tataki in a coconut sauce, a Chinese workers dish and a yellow fish curry. Everything to die for. Although you can't order from a menu anymore she still opens every week and cooks one favorite; such as a Thai steamed milk bun with different fillings or other insane things. You can find out about her cooking festivals on her Facebook page.
Zvulun 5, Tel Aviv
Hong Kong Dim Sum, Centre TLV
This place I found actually when I was craving for Fifi but she has already closed her normal operation and at this specific day was no festival. This Chinese Dim Sum shop came absolutely perfectly our way. It's so not Tel Aviv. You feel you are in a different country when you come in here. Opposed to many other wanna-be-asian places in the Holy land this one is actually run by Chinese and they totally give you the full Chinese experience including all misunderstandings and awkward moments. I loved it. They have probably over 15 different kinds of Dim Sum and of course like in every proper Chinese restaurant all of them are proudly caring a Number. On top of that I also heard many people praising their soups which I didn't try though. We ordered 4 different kinds of Dim Sums and the winner was the amazing Xiao Long Bao aka. Number 12. These were the best Dim Sums I had in TLV for sure. (Fifi also makes Dim Sums but I have not tried them yet :). Prices for every portion of Dim Sum are 28 NIS and 35 NIS for the soups. I really wanna go back try the Gyoza style Dim Sum (Wo Tip aka. 24) and the soups. It's a great fast meal for a fair price and awesome quality.
Ben Yehuda 9, Tel Aviv
Open form 1230-10 PM
Saro, Centre TLV
Eran and Ido is a duo who is importing amazing quality wines from the Balkan countries to Israel. Why does it matter? Because they are performing wine tastings in Eran's house for mixed groups up till around 14 people. Who doesn't love wine tastings? Eran lives in a borderline cute apartment with his wife Jackie, a dog and two cats (which are closed in the bedroom during the tastings). Normally we try around 7 +/- wines which are accompanied by a very generous amount of great cheeses from the Carmel market, fruits and a freshly baked Balkan pie filled with Bulgarian cheese. Eran is from Balkan descent and used to have a Balkan restaurant with Jackie in New York. All the wines are of amazing quality and I learned so much about wine generally as well as about the region where they are from. These guys are very professional and knowledgeable about their business which makes it every time a treat to come there. They charge 100 NIS for the entire event (around 1 1/2 hours) of which 50 NIS are a voucher in case you want to take a bottle or two home. My absolute favorites are Halozan and Kobal Sipon.
Stand 10, Tel Aviv
For bookings please contact Ido: 0544929289
or Eran: 0522963822
Mano Vino and Ben Gurion Boulevard
Every decent person should have a decent wine dealer. Mine is Mano Vino. I love this store because it makes it very simple to always have great wine. In the middle of every store is a big selection of wines where you can either get 3 wines for 100 NIS or 2 for 100 NIS combining different bottles. All of these wines are of great quality and are rocking the value for money game. The owner Emanuel seems to simply have a great taste and loves affordable products. Of course they also have a wall with wines of higher class; this selection also reflects sophistication and grace.
Oftentimes I stop by Tiv Tam and get (unkosher) cold cuts and cheeses, hit this store and get there a bottle or two and sit on the Ben Gurion Boulevard on one of the picnic tables watching the people passing by. They also provide you happily with ice and sometimes with glasses which I bring back of course because they operate until 11pm. Or you buy them for 11 NIS each in order to be a decent person who owns decent wine glasses.
They also have sometimes excessively generous wine festivals with looots of bottles and huge parmigiano and pecorino cheeses where nobody looks into your glass.
Shenkin 53, Tel Aviv
Dizengoff 149, Tel Aviav
I'd love to hear about your ideas and experiences for original and exciting dining and drinking in Tel Aviv. Please share your thoughts either here or send me a mail. I'd love to try out new things and experience your favorite experiences!
If you need more info about Tel Aviv's hotspots then please don't miss Maria's amazing blog about how to get around in TLV, the best happy hours, Carmel market guides and much more. She writes in Russian and English.