La Shuk

While I had heard that Tel Aviv’s food scene had improved  since I was there last (pre-Herod BC) I was absolutely not prepared to be blown away not only by the Tel Med(my term) Fusion cuisine I enjoyed but the first class Sushi and food from around the world. Tel Aviv is a world class food city now. I choose for my HQ to explore Tel Aviv the Cinema Hotel, part of the Atlas boutique hotel group. The hotel was formally the Ester Cinema housed in a Bauhaus style building built in 1930. Inside is a beautiful winding stairways with walls adorned with old classic movies and huge movie projectors. The rooms are mid-sized, stylish with very comfotable beds, great lighting, flat screen TV’s and free Wi-Fi. Rooms come with a superior buffet breakfast, one of the better ones I’ve enjoyed. There is a nice finished rooftop, but alas no pool. It’s located right off Main Street Dizengoff which is loaded with great restaurants, shopping and people watching and a mere 10 minute walk to the beach.

I divided this piece into meals instead of by days like I usually do and wrapped in some neighborhood info. First up…

Breakfast and Coffee Spots

The buffet Breakfast at the Cinema Hotel was so good, fresh and diverse I ended up having Breakfast there every day. The large spread included eggs a variety of ways including of course Shakshuka, Yougurt, Herring a couple of different ways, veggies, salads, breads, etc…

Anastasia– Vegetarian joint on Frishman, popular with a huge outdoor deck with tables and coaches. I had their house drink made up of Almond milk, vanilla, dates , and cinnamon. Available hot or cold(I went hot) a tasty change of pace to coffee and tea.

Aroma – I went to the one by Neve Tzedek. In a rare instance, the Barista spoke little English, but most Israeli’s do so I just asked the girl behind me for help. Turned out the Iced Coffee is pre-made with Ice and Milk…which is what he was trying to tell me. Of note, English is my second language…Brooklyn my native:)

Landwer’s Coffee – I went to the one in the Serona Market. There’s a nice one on Dizengoff as well, but having full menu’s and indoor and outdoor seating. I enjoyed a French Press of their very good coffee.

Nahat Cafe – If I lived in Tel Aviv Nahat would be a go to spot for me, I really liked the coffee and the vibe. It has indoor and outdoor seating and is right off Dizengoff Square by the Cinema Hotel. Along with a full selection of Coffee drinks are sandwiches and baked goods. Friendly staff.

Nola American bakery – Great spot in the northern section of Dizengoff with a large selection of baked goods. Very good coffee, especally the French press

Joe- Located within the Gate section of Ben Gurion Airport offers the usual suspects and snacks. I opted for a tasty Iced Coffee. Comfy seats and tables for while you wait for your plane to depart.

Lunch Spots

Sabich Frishman – Located at 42 Frishman, a hole in the wall so small that’s it’s easy to miss…don’t! Awesome Sabich (Eggplant, Egg, Hummus, Salads, etc) sandwiches…a perfect for a bite on the way to or for a break from the beach. So good I ate here first day and last.

Old Jaffa- the original port city that is over 4,000 yrs old. St Peters Church, the Fountain, the Hana Goor Whale, and Andromeda’s rock muse see spots. Starving after too much walking around I came upon Abulafia (since 1879!) huge, tasty and fresh Shawirma, loaded with lamb meat, hummus and fresh salads.

Tel Aviv Arts – Spectacular set of building in their own right with an incredible collection of modern Art. The perfect stop before you hit the brand new (2015) Sarona Market. A huge beautiful greeen outdoor market with multile buildings housing restaurants, boutiques, bars, coffee shops. For lunch I went to Piazza Rustica. I was seated in back corner which is typical(literally get seated in the back corner 90% of the time) except for the fact the table in front of me had two infants…one being changed in front of me. Less than appetizing so to speak, so I had my table changed. Once seated I ordered the Businessmen’s Lunch(what they call Prix Fixe) I started with a nice Tomato Salad with onions, and for my entree a rectagular Pizza half Calabria(salami & peppers) half Rucola(Arugula, onions and olives with Stracciata cheese) To drink, Mango Ice Tea…of note I wanted an Arnold Palmer but was advised against it since their House tea is Mango and was told it wouldn’t mix well with the lemonade…

Caffe Moreno….Located in the Arab Market of Acre(another of the world’s oldest cities) enjoyed a Lamb Kebab with salads washed down with Iced Mint Lemonade and Arabic Coffee

Mex & Co – Started with some very chips fresh made chips and salsa. For my main enjoyed a bowl of spicy chicken in mole,with black beans, guacamole, and quinoa (instead of rice), with jalapeno lime hot sauce. Was good though using quinoa does give it a less authentic spin. Tasty and healthy nonetheless and very close to the beach.

In The City – Gourmet supermarket with locations throughout Tel Aviv. I went to the one on Frishman for Beers. First one I tried was Oasis from the Negev Brewery which was very good. Of note,  I was told its OK to drink in the street till 9pm. Oddly enough I didn’t see a whole lot of others partaking.Later in the week I  discovered Mongozo a Banana beer… that was freaking epic!

Dinner Spots

Le Shuk– One of, if not my fave restaurant in a city full of great restaurants. I started with a Negroni that had a hint of peach Tel Aviv style. Shaved carrots with parsley, chilies in olive oil is served as a bar dish. I was craving seafood so I started with Yellowtail like Sea fish Tartar that was fresh and  delish served with toasts. For my main the off the menu regular special Black Risotto with Shrimp and Pistachios. It doesn’t happen that often…but sometimes I have a dish that not only is delicious but I have noting to compare it to. This is such one… quite simply one of my all time favorite dishes. I drank a local white blend of Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc from White Tulip. It was very good, crisp with some bite(Of note, Israeli’s seem torn over their wine. Some Bartenders recommended it, while others said to keep away from  it. Try some). They served it in two half portions to keep it cold. Israeli’s like to do shots and my Bartender gave me a shot of Araki(Israeli ouzo/ moonshine) and a Whisky, port concoction that worked. Service here was outstanding, I felt more like I was at a friends house then a restaurant. The crowd is a mix of Local regularrs and fellow Travellers. It was so good, I went back again my last evening. This time Yellowtail sashimi with larb cheese, dates and chickpeas. Might sound crazy, but delicious and a perfect example of Tel Med ccuisine. For my main the Seafood Meorav(Pickled lemon, harisa, parsley and tahini). The dish is an old Jaffa dish that is usually done with chicken, at La Shuk they do it with shrimp and calamari. Another amazing dish. For desert creamy Malabi with a glass of Mint Tea. I so wish they would open a location in NYC:)

Goocha- Nice spot for tasty and fresh out of the sea Seafood right on the corner of Ben Gurion and Dizengoff. Inside(of note, I don’t think I saw a restaurant without outdoor seating) it’s a trendy well designed space with an open kitchen and adjacent bar. I started with the Giner- Cocktail,  Gin with Cucumbers and Elderflower topped with Ginger Ale. Refreshing wit some punch. To start the special of the night King Fish Ceviche with Avocado cream and grapes. Another great Tel Med twist. For my main, the Seafood La Placha a combo of shrimp, little octopus, calamari ,and mussels with chopped veggies in a tasty olive oil sauce over mashed potatoes. Light yet filling, what I would expect from a Jewish Italian Grandmother. The food was great, the Hostesses very friendly, but after my order was taken, service was non-existent. Of note, orders and delivery of food througout Tel Aviv was always promt and expedient, but it often seemed like they were waiting to be asked if you wanted something else rather then ask which seemed odd.

Beer Garden -Mostly European beers I went with the exception of Jem’s an Israeli brewery. When in Rome…went Jem’s. Set up like a German Beer garden. Full menu of food that looked good, though I just enjoyed the Jem’s.

Fu Sushi– Located all the way down by the new Tel Aviv port section. Seating inside has a lively Sushi Bar while outdoor tables are great for people watching. Fu Sushi has a huge menu which meant deciding on what to order challenging. While deciding I ordered a Cucumber Thai Martini on the rocks. I was really blown away by how creative this menu was and even simple things like srrving rolls like black seseme covered sfinger sandwches was a great twist. I loved the Salmon and Avocado sandwich, ordered Spicy yellowtail and Unagi Temaki handrolls that were crazy fresh and really loved the Apple Sashimi – Green Apple sticks wrapped in Salmon with Apple Yuzu sauce. Friendly staff. This place gives NYC’s best a run  for it’s money.

Cafe 12– I Couldn’t decide what I wanted so headed to Rothschild Boulevard( a major street loaded with restaurants) to check it out. The place I was going to go to didn’t do it for me so I left and bounced around until I came upona place that was packed outside, but with space at the bar, threw caution to the wind and decided to try it out. Another hit. I started with a Mojito made with Sailor Jerry’s dark spiced Rum(I think they are better this way). The menu is set up like a Tapas menu so I ordere a few items that caght my eye. First up, the Beetroot and Gorgonzola salad over greens with pistachios (they love their pistachios in this town and I love pistachios:) to start. Think it sounds good, tasted even better. Next up was the Merguez Sausage with peppers onions and fries. The Sausage was of three meats and cooked just right, the Mustard had some punch. This dish would hold it’s own in any German Beer Hall or Brit Gatropub. I had to try the Salmon Tartare served on delicious fresh baked bread. Two of the three would have been enough, but I was on vacation.In the back is a large dark room with a backyard area. It was the closet to a NY style bar I went to.

Concierge– Brand New recently opened hot spot (April 2015) Tapas bar on Dizengoff. Bars in the front and back, outdoor seating as well. The Open Kitchen is by the back bar. It’s a very good looking spot with the best looking crowd I’ve seen in Tel Aviv to match .They have a cocktail menu but most sounded too sweet for me…the bartender and kudios to him agreed and  suggested a Negroni which happens to be one if my favorite drinks so Negroni it was. A DJ has the music thumping but not too loud. The menu was only  in Hebrew(they were waiting for the English menus to arrive)….which made it kind of challenging since I didn’t want to drive the Bartendter nuts since the bar was busy. He was very helpful nonetheless and suggested the Spicy Fish- mixed fried seafood with a spicy red sauce with heat, parsley, onions and radish served in a sandal serving tray and the nights special of Potatoes Brava made with purple and white potatoes, eggs, spicy mayo, and thyme. While very good, sized more for a table of 4-6.

Though I enjoyed the food, the potaoe dish was just too lsrge, so I couldn’t finish it , plus needed more protien so decided for a walk to burn them off and hit the new Sushi place I saw the other night…

Sushi Yan– Another brand new spot that just opened mid April 2015 and another without an English menu at opening. Space inside and outside along with a Sushi bar. One of The Hostess offered to help and asked what I liked and if I trusted her. I told her she was beautiful but would have to know her better before I trusted her:) We worked together to come up with the following…Spicy Salmon with Avocado and a Yellowtail like Med  white fish(can’t remember name…) w/Tobiko and cucumber in hand rolls served on wooden boards and slate. To start cabbage, cauliflower and pickles marinated in vinegar topped with black sesame seeds are served at the bar. To drink I had some Hot Sake to drink. The Sushi Chef is meticulous in his preparation and the quality of the fish top notch. It’s Chef’s like this that make sitting at the Sushi Bar a real pleasure. This is a great new spot for Sushi and it’s open till Midnight. It’s located right off the corner of Dizengoff and Ben Gurion. Thanks again Stephanie for guiding me through the menu.

Neve Tzedek used to be a lousy neighborhood by Old Jaffa Port, over the  last 20 years it has  transformed into Tel Aviv’s hottest most exclusive hood(think Williamsburg if it were on Long Island).A recent infusion of French transplants have the Real Estate skyrocketing. While looking for coffee I came upon Anita- La Mamma del Gelato that has face to face locations across the street from each other offering a large range of flavors. I went Banana Date(awesome flavor that I’ve never had or seen before) and Pistachio. Of note the location at 21 Shabazi has more flavors. Of note, I had this after breakfast, but before lunch.

Cookeez -Off the charts Ice Cream cookie sandwiches. You choose from a dozen cookies and as many or more Gelato flavors. I had Pistachio ice cream in-between a Pistachio macaroon cookie and a white chocolates chunk and macadamia one. Tantric Orgasmic. Again, before lunch…I was on vacation.

Gelateria Siciliana– On Ben Yehudah close to the beach. Delicious Gelato with tons of flavors to choose from and walking distance from Frishman and Gordon beaches. I loved the Orange Chocolate. Here is where I hit total chunky monkey status. I hit this place the same day I hit Cookeez earlier. However, I did so much none stop running around while eating so much Seafood and Veggies…I actually lost about 5lbs of baby fat on this trip:)

Harcamel Market is a mix of Flea Market and Food Market. It was here that I came upon orange… topped,… pistachio baklava that was sumptuous! I need to find some in NYC. I actually had some similar in Tampa, Florida.

At Acre in the Arab market I found amongst nut clusters a variety of Coconut Rolls. I choose the one with pistachios in the middle surrounded by a pink colored coating reminding me of the Sno-Balls of my youth. Tasty without being too sweet.

I hope you enjoyed my food journey and that your saliva glands didn’t go into overdrive while your stomach rumbled. I’ve been all over and I think it’s high time Tel Aviv starts getting more mention in the media and kudos for it’s amazing food scene. It really is an amazing city and believe any and every Foodie, Beach Lover and History buff needs to see it at least once. I’m looking to return sooner rather than later myself…

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