[Ed. Note: While traveling in Tel Aviv, we were introduced to food photographer Danya Weiner and food stylist Deanna Linder, authors of the Israeli food blog Matkonation, as well as a forthcoming guide to the city’s best restaurants. In this post, Danya and Deanna share the top picks from their guide.]
We’re the type to research a destination before visiting, so that not even one meal is wasted on something that wasn’t spot on. We scoured the city long and hard, bite after bite, to compile a list of only the very best restaurants the city has to offer. With a max of four restaurants per category in our forthcoming guide, you can’t go wrong when you choose one. So before you travel, leave the researching to us and go eat great food. We’re starting with Tel Aviv, the city where we live and eat.
The Thai House
Best Asian: The only spot in Tel Aviv with real Thai food. Definitely make a reservation ahead of time if you are going for dinner because this intimate restaurant fills up almost a week in advance for the popular nights (Thursday-Saturday). The Papaya Salad and Yom Gai are musts for starters, the Red Curry and Pad-Seiew are on point, and their Sticky Rice with Mango and Tapioca dessert are perfect.
8 Bograshov, Tel Aviv
T: +972 (0)3 5178568
Sunday-Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Best Bar Restaurant: Located in the middle of the ever-so-hip Flea Market area of Yaffo, this relatively new spot has the perfect mix of bar and restaurant. Respected local chef Yossi Shitrit does really playful food, like the frothy egg in a jar (delicious) and the cocktails are creatively concocted to fit the playfulness of the menu.
3 Rabi Hanina, Tel Aviv
T: +972 (0)3 6486060
Sunday-Thursday 6:00 p.m. – last customer | Friday, Saturday 12:00 p.m. – last customer
The Tel Aviv Farmers Market
Best Market: This culinary pearl is located right in the middle of the touristy, commercial Tel Aviv Port. Similar to, but smaller than, Barcelona’s Bouqueria, it boasts organic vegetable stalls, amazing coffee, breads and pastries, and a fresh fish stand alongside several great restaurants (both sit down and “fast food”).
Hangar 12, Tel Aviv Port
T: +972 (0)775493094
Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Danya Weiner and Deanna Linder are the team behind the Israeli food blog Matkonation, which they started in 2009 as a way to freely channel their creativity as a professional food photographer and a food stylist, respectively. They post about once a week, focusing on three main pillars: aesthetics, recipes and stories. Well known in Israel and around the world, they have been featured by websites such as Design Sponge, Mom-Filter, Huffington Post, SBS Food and more, and have collaborated with some of Israel’s largest food and beverage companies.
Best Breakfast: This super trendy, centrally located eclectic brasserie with a Euro feel is situated in a boutique hotel of the same name. Their breakfast stands out thanks to superb service and the quality of their ingredients. Reservations are recommended on the weekends, when the place can get quite crowded.
36 Montefiore Street, Tel Aviv
Tel: +972 (0)3 5646100
Sunday-Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Best Dinner: Eyal Shani, The Mad Hatter of Israeli chefs, is behind these two gems. The Salon is the more upscale version and is really a combination of dinner and show. Don’t be surprised if you run into Russian oligarchs by the end of the night and have to dodge (or partake in) plates being thrown and dancing on the tables. The food is guided by Shani’s philosophy: good ingredients, without too much adaptation, cooked just right. North Abraxasis the more affordable of the two spots. Don’t miss out on the famous cauliflower or carpaccio, pounded by the waiter right on your table.
Salon: 8 Maavar Yabuk st. | North Abraxas: 40 Lilenbloom st.
Salon Tel: +972 (0)52 7035888 | North Abraxas Tel: +972 (0)3 5166660
Salon: Wednesday-Thursday 7:00 p.m. – the last customer | North Abraxas: Sunday 6:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m. // Monday-Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m. // Friday-Saturday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.
Best Lunch: “Basta” literally means “market stall” in Hebrew, and this little joint is situated right in the vibrant Carmel Market. Its menu changes daily based directly on what’s available in the adjacent market, but if you see the Almond and Jerusalem artichoke dip or Seafood Pasta on the menu, make sure to order them.
4 Hashomer St. Tel Aviv
Tel: +972 (0)3 5169234
Sunday-Thursday 12:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Friday 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Best Italian: Young chef David Frenkel has worked at some of the world’s top restaurants including NOMA and Mugaritz. At Pronto he dances the fine line between classical Italian and creative ingenuity, using only the finest ingredients.
4 Herzl Street
T: +972 (0)3 5660915
Best Fine Dining: This centrally located restaurant is the brainchild of young chef Yaron Shalev. His knowledge of food is remarkable and is evident in absolutely every part of every dish that is served. The wine list is superb, the Pizza Bianca is heavenly and the Chestnut Gnocchi is what put this restaurant on the map.
4 Berkovitz, Tel Aviv
T: +972 (0)3 6935151
Sunday-Wednesday 12:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Thursday-Friday 12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday 12:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Best Kosher: Meir Adoni, of the well-established fine-dining mecca Catit, recently opened up this kosher (dairy) rooftop restaurant at the beachside Carlton Hotel. Adoni is genius when it comes to intricate presentation with delicate but sophisticated flavors, which are not compromised in any means by the dietary restriction, making this a fine choice also for the non-kosher crowd.
10 Elieze Peri Street, Tel Aviv (Carlton Hotel)
Sunday-Thursday 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Best Street Food: You can’t come to Israel without having hummus as a main course, and for that there is only one place to go: Abu Hassan. Get there before 3:00, around the time when the large daily pots of hummus run out and the doors close.
1 Dolphin Street (on the hill) | 14 Shivtai Israel Street (the second branch) | 18 Shivtai Israel Street (a third branch which is open all day)
T: +972 (0)3 6820387, +972 (0)3 6828355
Sunday- Friday 7:45 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. (or until the humus is finished)
Best Bakery: Walk into this small family-run bakery and you’re immediately spoiled for choice: there’s amazing coffee, delicious pastries, their hearty sandwiches made with freshly baked bread. Located on the main street leading to the Jaffa flea market, this is the spot to start off your day of haggling with the street vendors, or shopping around the local designer boutiques.
24 Yehuda Margoza, Tel Aviv
Sunday-Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. | Friday 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Best Vegetarian: This vibrant bar with eastern European fare has recently given up lamb for tofu, but the ever-so-fun atmosphere has remained. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing on the bar with some (non-vegan) locals.