I love the buzz of Tel Aviv. It’s a city that seemingly never sleeps, with an energy generated in large part by its sunny disposition and subsequent outdoor lifestyle. It has a thriving restaurant and café culture, and a cuisine that has undergone something of a renaissance over the past twenty years. Today, it is one my favourite cities to eat in across the world.
I always start my visits to Tel Aviv with a trip to Abu Hassan in Jaffa, which has, in my opinion, the best hummus in town, and arguably the whole country. This is a topic of much-heated debate that could go on all day, so let’s just agree that it’s definitely worth the trip to Jaffa for it. I go for breakfast, which some may think of as odd, but I can eat hummus at any time of the day.
For lunch, Miznon is an obligatory pit stop whenever I’m visiting, as much for its crazy atmosphere as for its excellent food. Enjoy all sorts of wonderful and unusual ingredients stuffed inside a pita whilst Israeli people shout at you (and each other) in a language you probably won’t understand. Cauliflowers, like the customers, seem to come and go, and you can’t help but leave having eaten well and feeling you’ve experienced a genuine, authentic taste of Tel Aviv. M25, situated 25 metres from the Carmel market (the clue is in the name) is actually quite hard to find, but another great lunchtime option.
But if there were one place that for me most typifies Tel Aviv, and why I love the city so much, it would be Port Said. The restaurant spills out onto the street in a chaotic and seemingly disorganised manner, some people sitting, some people (usually tourists) standing around not knowing how the system works. In truth, there probably isn’t a system. But the food is outstanding, reflecting the best of new Israeli cuisine, and the place is always heaving until late at night with the young and hip enjoying Tel Aviv’s nightlife.
For higher end, more refined cooking, try Mizlala, owned by celebrity-chef Meir Adoni. The cooking is technically outstanding, but the prices are reflective of this – it’s not a cheap eat by any means.
For cheaper food, Tikvah Market is off the well-beaten tourist path and has great street food options that cost next-to-nothing. Sabich Tchernichovsky serves the best Sabich in the city – a legendary sandwich consisting of fried aubergine, egg, Amba sauce and tahina. I never leave Tel Aviv without visiting at least one, often five times.