“The capital of Mediterranean cool” was the last stop of our 2 week culinary adventure in Israel. The goal was more of the same. Street food, arab food and anything else not easily available back at home in NYC. Authentic Italian food and fresh seafood is also always desirable wherever we go but fell a little short here.
With that said however, the feeling at the end was mutual – Mission accomplished…
Turk Lahmacun – Also spelled “Lahmajun” and pronounced “OMG this is some good joon!”. This is glorious Shawarma not for wimps. 3 different meats spinning: Veal, lamb and turkey. I got a combo of all 3 in a Lahmajun bread, flat bread topped with meat and spices baked in their taboon oven. Like Hazan shawarma in Haifa they really stuff a nice chunk of meat there and the result is one outrageous and delicious sandwich. And that Amba mango sauce compliments it very well.
This place is on Nahalat Binyamin. When coming from the independence hall, turn right on Nahalat Binyamin and it’s on your left a short block away.
Dr. Shakshuka – you know you made it when the new antique store next door calls itself doctor Antika. The Shakshuka here is as good as Shakshuka can get, I guess. Problem is for breakfast I normally don’t touch this stuff as I like my eggs a bit more simple. Besides their famous Shakshuka, other goodies rose to the occassion like their terrific salads and in particular the spicy eggplant. But the best thing we ate here wasn’t the Shakshuka, it was the Pargit. Israelis love their Pargit, which is either a young chicken, a boneless thigh, or a boneless thigh of a young chicken, not sure. But you see this Pargit everywhere and here it was the best one we ate during the trip. Tender, juicy, well seasoned grilled chicken on skewers. Highly recommend this doctor.
Hakosem Falafel – Best falafel since Hazkenim in Haifa. You know when you are tasting good falafel when you pack the pita with irresistible chips, tahini, salads and more, but the flavors of the falafel still dominate.
Sabich Frishman – Another tasty snack. Sabich is Falafels not so good looking sister. You know, the one that only calls when she needs money. Eggplant, hard boiled eggs tahini and spices in pita pack in a lot of nice flavors. This I was told is one of the better Sabich places but there’s one particular in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givataim where there are lines around the block, called Oved Sabich.
Cafe Noir – the 110th reminder that no matter how great they taste, I just can’t get excited over a Schnitzel. Veal, chicken, camel schnitzel, no matter. I suppose if you opt to have one this is the place to go. Cafe Noir is known to make the best schnitzels in the nation. The schnitzels have been written about in various publications. The recipe of the Schnitzel has been well publicized. Children’s fairy tales have been written about it like “The Princess and the pea, and the veal Schnitzel”, “One-Eye! Two-Eyes! Three-Eyes! Schnitzel!” and my personal nighttime favorite, “Goodnight Schnitzel!”. Anyway so you get the idea. In Cafe Noir, you still need to rely on great complimentary sauces with your schnitzels and here you are given 3 good ones. I should also say that the rest of the family enjoyed it and declared it one heck of a Schnitzel. We also had some nice Druze bread and Some succulent shrimp in bread-scooping-worthy sauce. We liked Cafe Noir
Benedict – The “good morning” sign at 7 in the evening wasn’t an indication of laziness. Benedict serves only breakfast all day long. This is the type of place I had no desire to go to before the trip when I heard about it, but I had every desire to eat there once we saw it while walking on Rotshchild blvd. Reason being was that I (perhaps in the minority) was somewhat tired of the legendary Israeli hotel breakfast.
Benedict delivered in a big way. The omelette I was so struggling with the previous 12 days, from the greasy to the overcooked, to the burned while the cook discusses Matkot (paddle ball) strategies with the head waiter, has arrived. A gorgeous, hefty and (finally) perfectly cooked potato, cheese and cauliflower omelette. We shared all kinds of goodies including nice home fries, and the juicy “benji” sausage. The best thing was probably the brioche French toast with jam, something I haven’t enjoyed this much since my last visit to Maine and its amazing blueberries. Well done Benedict! Finally good breakfast.
We had some memorable meals in Israel. From the famous (Uri Buri) to the not so much (Lachuch guy in Tsfat). But there was one in particular that stood out as the best meal of the trip…
– After the initial recommendation from Shoshi on TripAdvisor, and reading writeups on SeriousEats
and the excellent David Lebovitz
blog, this was the most highly anticipated meal of the trip.
The small salads here were amazing and different. Plenty of fruit which I don’t normally like in my meals but really enjoyed it here like the delicious figs with walnuts. Hummus here was top notch. Nice Iraqi bread, the usual eggplant suspects, tomatoes in spicy tahini sauce, simple, nutty, and absolutely delicious.
The meats here were spectacular. We shared the lamb neck stuffed with rice, ground beef and almonds. They also have the lamb shoulder which was a bit too much for us (says its serves 6 but looks like it serves 26). Also tried a wonderful Synia (sp?), ground beef, veggies and spices covered in tahini sauce. But the star for me was the spicy Halabi kabob, tender, juicy ground meat stuffed with herbs and some nuts served with lovely slightly spicy roasted tomatoes in a soup like tomato broth covered with pastry dough with zaater.
For dessert we enjoyed their Knaffe, but absolutely devoured the Malabi, a creamy but silky milk pudding with pistachios. It’s Panna cotta on steroids! We’ve had the Malabi a few times on this trip but not like this. A glorious finish to a glorious meal.
Take a look at the map below for the exact location and the locations of the other places mentioned.
There were other less memorable meals like in the White Pergola in the touristy Hanamal area, and another one at a popular Italian, Amore Mio. With that said however, the little glimpse we got of the wonderful flavors of Tel Aviv, has left us heading to Ben Gurion full with memories and.. full. Goodnight Tel Aviv! Goodnight Schnitzel!