When we say we’d return to Tel Aviv just for the food, we’re only half joking.
Healthy Mediterranean food in the form of Jewish delicacies and mezes (small appetizer or sampler plates similar in size and occasion to Spanish tapas) is only part of the story; the big-city culinary diversity of the glimmering White City is the true magnet. We’ve visited Tel Aviv together three times, and while our scope is confined just to the most central neighborhoods, we have found plenty there to thrill us. These eateries don’t just qualify as our favorites in this city; they are some of our favorites worldwide.
Here are our top picks for the best places to eat in Tel Aviv (click on the names to visit their websites):
Our opinion might be skewed by the spectacular view (the restaurant is right on Alma Beach), the inventive mezes, or the cleanly decorated and light-filled venue. Either way, it’s the one we tell our friends about when they head this way.
I wasn’t kidding when I said that Tel Aviv offered culinary diversity. While we won’t be going into every ethnic variation available here, we definitely want to mention Thai House. This is a fine dining establishment, not a hole-in-the-wall eatery, and the food is superb. Unfortunately, many others think the same so it is critical to book a table in advance. There’s usually a line out the door for the first come, first served seats at the bar.
*Tip: In Tel Aviv, reservations are made in increments. Don’t be surprised if you are offered a table “from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. While American visitors won’t find this quite as unusual, European visitors used to lingering at a table all evening will be in for a rude awakening.
In a city where everybody has an opinion about the best rugelach and challah, it might seem rather blasphemous that we recommend this Hungarian bakery. Yet given that it’s an Israeli institution with multiple branches around the country, I don’t think anybody would mind.
A Kurtosh is a flaky cylindrical pastry baked on what looks like a wooden rolling pin and often filled with yumminess. Don’t worry, Kurtosh has plenty of rugelach, too, as well as savory treats and drinks to accompany them. It’s the quality that we appreciate most here, and the obvious love of baking that shines through warmhearted greetings and fanciful window displays.
Known as the “Irish Embassy” because of its location near several (real) embassies, Molly Bloom’s was the first Irish pub to open in Tel Aviv.
Usually when traveling I avoid Irish pubs like the plague. But where else in this kosher stronghold can you find both meat and cheese together? Or find leavened bread during Passover? The complete disregard for Jewish dietary laws makes Molly Bloom’s a welcome reprieve when you’re here for an extended visit. Though even if that weren’t the case, this rates as one of my top favorite burgers. And as you might imagine, the beer and whisky aren’t bad, either.
2 Mendele Street, corner Hayarkon
Simply phenomenal sushi, served up at the bar, in front of a conveyor belt, or at table seating. The creativity of the shapes and ingredients of the “rolls” (try the sushi “sandwiches”) means you’ll probably be back for a second sampling.
Quirky, cozy, and filled with the owner’s sculpture projects, Boccaccio is well known for being open on most Jewish holidays. Which is a shame, because the food is really very nice, as is the wine selection (this is where we first tried Recanati Reserve Chardonnay, one of our very favorites). Need more wine? Head down a block to Tomas Wine Bar, where they not only serve great local wines but (free) delectable sweets.
106 Hayarkon, corner Frischman
Best mezes: everywhere!
A post on Tel Aviv food seems lacking without a recommendation for traditional mezes, but it was impossible to pick a favorite (though the fish variations at MantaRay do stand out). To us, they all seem delicious.
However, we’re happy to suggest some must-eats: olives; tabbouleh (bulgur wheat with parsley, mint, scallions and tomato); babaghanoush (roast eggplant spread); strained yogurt; muhammara (hot pepper spread with ground walnuts and breadcrumbs); salad, roast vegetables, and the requisite hummus (chickpea spread).
This isn’t a place, but a brand. Truly creamy, melt-in-your-mouth artisan chocolates with flavors like pomegranate and fillings such as sesame creme. It’s the essential way to end your day in Tel Aviv on a sweet note!