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The best restaurants in Tel Aviv

The best restaurants in Tel Aviv

by Great British Chefs 11 September 2017

Over the past few years, Tel Aviv’s restaurant scene has grown into one of the most exciting and innovative in all of Israel. Here’s where you should be booking a table when visiting the city.

Ask about where to eat in Israel, and many will point you to their favourite street food vendors or hole-in-the-wall restaurants. But in Tel Aviv, where skyscrapers meet the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, a new food scene has come to the fore. Instead of pitta breads full of all sorts of delicious things (which is more common in Jerusalem) to eat on the go, there are some truly incredible sit-down restaurants in Tel Aviv serving contemporary Israeli cuisine. Some take inspiration from Asia, others reinvent traditional Middle Eastern classics and some simply plate up beloved Israeli favourites without the need for swanky new techniques. However, whatever the restaurant might serve, there seems to be a common trend – communal spaces full of buzzing atmosphere, a sense of occasion and fun. Here are the restaurants at the forefront of Tel Aviv’s dining scene.

Taizu

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Many visitors to Israel probably expect most of their meals to be based around ground chickpeas, lots of tahini and the odd bit of lamb. Taizu does away with all those preconceptions. Conceived by head chef Yuval Ben Neriah and made a reality thanks to talented sous chef Dor Farchi, this is fusion food at its finest, taking the flavours and ingredients of India, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia and combining them with a little Mediterranean flair. The dishes are referred to as ‘Asiaterranean’, and reflect Israel’s multicultural make-up. Expect plenty of seafood, flavoured with ingredients such as Kashmiri chillies, purple bok choi and galangal.

33 Derech Menachem Begin Street, Tel Aviv. taizu.co.il/en

Yaffo Tel Aviv

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Haim Cohen is a bit of a culinary legend in Israel, and his restaurant Yaffo is an homage to his career so far. Taking inspiration from his years in kitchens across the world, the menu celebrates everything great about Israeli cuisine, with the occasional Italian twist. There are classic dishes such as tuna with aubergine in a lemon yoghurt sauce alongside more European plates including lamb tortellini with sweetbreads and butterbeans. The most popular dishes, however, have to be the shish barak dumplings stuffed with labneh and a plate of beautiful smoked fish tartare. The open kitchen means you can watch the chefs at work while you eat (keep an eye out for the tabun oven, where all the breads, bagels and baked dishes are cooked to perfection), and the wine list is full of bottles from unusual locations to enjoy alongside your meal.

90 Yigal Alon Street, Tel Aviv. yaffotelaviv.com

Blue Sky

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Hotel restaurants can be a bit hit and miss at times but Blue Sky, located on the rooftop of the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv, is one of the best in the city. The view is incredible in itself, overlooking the cityscape, but it’s the food that really gets people excited. There’s no meat in sight – just incredible fish and vegetarian dishes, many of which have an Asian influence. It’s perfect if you’re after something lighter than the traditional Israeli fare, and in summer you can even dine on the roof’s balcony for an unforgettable experience in the heart of Tel Aviv.

10 Eliezer Peri Street, Tel Aviv. carlton.co.il

TASTEscape: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

Ha'achim

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For a true taste of what Israel’s food scene is like today, a dinner at Ha’achim is a must. The bustling little bistro is centred around a grill that serves some of the best kebabs in the city, with plenty of side dishes (think fresh challah, shakshuka, beetroot and aubergine). It might look like a place to indulge in a bit of hummus and bread, but a quick glance at the menu soon reveals there’s much more on offer – just one bite of their fried artichokes with labneh will prove that! The salads are particularly popular, and the welcoming atmosphere makes it feel like you’re eating in someone’s house rather than a restaurant.

12 Ibn Gabirol Street, Tel Aviv. facebook.com/haachim

Aria

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The building Aria is housed in is beautiful enough from the outside; once you venture in, however, it gets even more impressive. With a bar downstairs and a restaurant above, it’s one of the hottest places to spend an evening in Tel Aviv. Always busy and lively, many come for the inventive cocktails but even more come for chef Guy Gumzu’s simple, clean menu, which makes the most of the freshest ingredients available. There’s a focus on fish above all else (there’s usually a ceviche or crudo on the menu), but both vegetarians and meat eaters will be more than happy with dishes such as sirloin steak from the Golan Heights with beetroot chimichurri or cheese and spinach cappelletti.

66 Nahalat Binyamin Street, Tel Aviv. ariatlv.co.il

Cafe Puaa

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Cafe Puaa is an old favourite in Tel Aviv's Jaffa district, an old port that eventually grew into the city. It was established back in 1999, and has been delighting foodies in the city ever since. While many of Israel’s restaurants are contemporary, combining international cuisines and pushing culinary boundaries, Puaa is all about homely, traditional, simple Israeli food. It serves breakfast all day long, traditional dishes such as sabich and plenty of vegan options, such as mung beans in raw tahini. The mismatched tables, chairs and ornaments add to the traditional Tel Aviv vibe, and it’s one of the best spots in the city to spend a few hours people watching, as it’s right in the middle of a flea market.

8 Rabbi Yohanan Street, Tel Aviv. puaa.co.il

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