By Juhi Bansal
Tel Aviv is a delight for vegetarians. It is known to be one of the most “vegetarian friendly” cities in the world. Whether it is street food or fine dine, local or international, savoury or sweet- you’ll find a huge variety of vegetarian fare.
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The local cuisine is a mix of Jewish, Mediterranean and other International cuisines brought back by Jewish diaspora from across the world. Here’s a list of must try food during your trip to Tel Aviv.
Mediterranean food like falafel, hummus, msbaha, shakshouka (egg preparation- Israeli breakfast favourite)- I loved it so much that I got the husband to join a tutorial for the same in TLV, couscous, za’atar, labneh, Israeli salad, pickled olives are available at every corner of every shuk- you can’t miss it even if you try.
You must definitely try the Israeli breads- challah (braided bread), Beigeleh or the Jerusalem bagels (we heard stories by local vendors claiming bagels were originally Jewish food!), pita (so much variety!), boureka (puff pastry filled with potatoes or spinach or cheese). There are several places to try these- small cafes in Florentin & upmarket Neve Tzedek and bakeries in Levinsky market. Most of these breads and pastries are available at open carts in the Carmel market. The safest bet is the chain of bakeries called Abu Susu.
Sabich (pronounced Sabikh) is something I’ve eaten a few times previously but I missed the chance of trying it in Tel Aviv at Frishman Sabich because it was closed during my visit. It came so highly recommended that even though I haven’t personally tried the place, I am putting it up on my list of must visits.
Desserts: Halva was my favourite! Not in the least like the halwa we are used to- these come in slabs of sugary perfection with yummy flavours like peanut, vanilla etc.
Kanafeh- syrupy cheese pastry
Malabi- rosewater pudding
Sufganiyot- jelly filled doughnuts
Other favourites include baklava, dates and mutabak
Arak– This anise flavoured liquor used to be my favourite accompaniment after Israeli wine during most dinners. I loved it so much we even brought a bottle back with us. The flavour is strong and leaves an aftertaste of aniseed in your mouth (which I love!). Best had with lemonade.
Isaeli Wine– Even though wine in Israel has historical importance, the actual commercial production only started about 20 years ago. However, they do make a mean vino!
Israeli Beer– it’s kosher!
Eating out in Tel Aviv is a delight. Every place is bubbling with happy people and friendly pets. No matter the cuisine, you’ll come out with the best experience dining in the city. Here’s a list of my top 5 you must visit on your trip to the White City. Some of these are recommendations off the net, some by our landlord and local friends we made, some spotted while walking on the streets and some a combination of all these! All of these are moderately priced restaurants with an average cost for 2 people for a meal being NIS 100- 200 (INR. 2000 to 4000). The tipping norm is 15%. Most restaurants mention that clearly on the bill (15% service charge not included). The staff is known to come back and ask if something was lacking in their service if you leave less than that. We didn’t dare make that mistake.
Old Man and the Sea (open on Shabbath)
This is the best place to visit to sample a variety of Israeli salads and dips in one go. More than 20 types of salads and dips along with a huge portion of bread and a view to boot- this is definitely a must visit when in Tel Aviv/ Jaffa.
Don’t order the main course until after the salad is served completely. Also, make sure you have one person to share all this food with because there’s a lot of it!
Thai House (open on Shabbath)
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not this comes highly recommended. They even have a separate vegetarian menu!
Table booking recommended because there is a long waiting at the restaurant. It’s took us incessant calling for 4 days to finally land a table.
Bal Injera Ethiopian (closed on Shabbath)
There is a huge Ethiopian population in TLV and that’s why trying this cuisine should be a no brainer. We loved the injera platter- the most popular Ethipian food. Just order an extra helping of injera to go with all the curries, veggies and lentils and you have a meal! The Ethiopian music and staff are definitely a plus!
Ethiopian coffee- duh!
Local Italian Restaurant @ The Kitchen Market (open on Shabbath)
When you visit the Tel Aviv port area, you must try the various food stalls selling a variety of Arabic, Israeli and other delicacies. However, if you’re looking for a sit down dinner- Kitchen Market should be your pick.
They have a small menu and we kind of ended up ordering everything vegetarian on it, as is. They are open to customizations though.
Bread & Co (open on Shabbath)
While it’s an all-day breakfast place, we frequented it for our morning coffee and bread. The menu is a mix of Israeli and continental items. Our favourites: egg in Challah, Bagel sandwiches and the pancake stack!
Pick outside seating for a view of the road and the slew of pet dogs!
There are several other places we visited (and loved) like Mexicana for Mexican, Ernesto for their amazing tiramisu, topya for yogurt and eatwith for a local experience. Hope this helps you plan your trip better- especially all the nervous vegetarian travellers out there. The husband and I are firm believers of the fact that food should always be something to look forward to (and not a concern) when travelling.
All pics from our iPhone X or One Plus 6