I moved with my family to Israel in August, 2004. In my spare time, I have tried to conquer Israel and I have seen the good, the bad and the ridiculous. I often am asked for tips about Israeli restaurants, movies, shows and cultural events. Please join me on my adventures!
Contact me with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
The best thing I can say about Baribas is that it is the only restaurant that is kosher at the Tel Aviv Port (there is Bandolina but that is more of a cafe appropriate for lunch). The dairy restaurant is billed as offering healthy alternatives. It is the perfect place if you are dining out with vegetarians or vegans (and has many gluten-free options as well). Unfortunately, no one at our table found the food or dining experience to be anything but mediocre. And, unlike Bandolina, there is no ocean view.
Bariba - 3 Hataruch Street, Tel Aviv Port - 602-5026
I would not make a special trip to see the Caesarea Experience and Time Tower, but if you are visiting the Caesarea port, both are worthwhile and seem to get little traffic (one ticket allows entry to both places). The Caesarea Experience is a 30 minute movie that takes you through the history of Caesarea. While waiting for the movie, you can interact with 3D holgraph figures who shaped the history of Caesarea. After the film, make your way to the Time Tower where an even shorter film will use computerized animation to explain the history of the architecture of the port. Children will probably prefer the Caesarea Experience and Time Tower but both will provide an educational experience to a beautiful place.
Caesarea Experience and Time Travel - tickets can be purchased when paying for entry to the park. Reservations can be made by calling *6550, extension 3 or at http://www.caesarea.com/
Soupizza - aptly named because the specialities of the house are soup and pizza - is a charming restaurant located on a quiet off the beaten neighborhood of Tel Aviv. The restaurant is small and intimate and authentically Italian down to the checkered tableclothes. Every night there is a large selection of home made and hearty soups. The many varieties of pizza are also delicious. I personally like the calzones best of all. And don't forget to have the desserts. Service is friendly and good. Kids will love this place. And, best of all, it is a very reasonably priced meal.
Soupizza - 56 Yehuda Halevi, Tel Aviv - 03-566-1134
For those of you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that there are many wonderful cultural things to do here in Israel BUT there are certain arts that still lag here - ballet being one of them. Therefore, I rushed to buy tickets for the Swan Lake performance by the Mariinky Ballet (formerly Kirov Ballet) at the Caesarea Ampitheatre. The ballet was long and stone stadium seating was not so comfortable (cushions are sold) but it is one of the most outstanding cultural events I have attended here in Israel. New York might rival in terms of pure performance but the ambience of a world-class performance in the outdoor Caesarea ampitheatre at just the right time of year cannot be beat.
The Hurva synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem has actually been built and destroyed several times since originally established in the early 18th century. In 2010, the restoration of the synagogue was completed and the building is now open to the public. One hour tours (given in both Hebrew and English) convey both the architectural beauty of the structure, as well as its rich history. Make sure to join one on your next visit to the Old City.
I had high hopes for Armando - a kosher fish and meat restaurant facing the Tel Aviv promendade. The view of the Tel Aviv beach delivered but the rest of the dining experience left much to be desired. The food was mediocre - not at all justifying the high cost of the meal. You would be better off boxing up your own dinner and sitting on the promenade - same outstanding view at a much lower price.
Where else but in the Yemenite Quarter can you hear the person who serves you a cappucino at a trendy coffee bar sing traditional sefardic shabbat songs? Most tourists visit Neve Tzedek or the Port when visiting Tel Aviv but for true authentic insight into the ethnic side of Tel Aviv, a tour of the Yemenite Quarter is a must. Once again, the tour (in Hebrew) by the excellent Doron Ozer and sponsored by the Tel Aviv Municipality hits all the the beaten tracks of this area of Tel Aviv that has not yet been gentrified and is rich in tradition. And the eating stops along the way (chumus/pita/Yemenite bread) were great!
Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality Tours - for a list of tours and times go to www.telaviv.gov.il or call 03-516-6188
Gzuztra is one of those places to take visitors when you want to wow them. Gzuztra is a concept restaurant - the concept being that portions are small so that each diner is expected to order two or three dishes and to share among the table. But that is not what will impress your tourist friends. What will impress them is the full wall of glass facing the ocean. Even at night, the restaurant gives an impressive feel; I can only imagine that during the day or at sunset the effect is stunning. As for the food, it was actually quite good. The sushi (served only at dinner) was terrific. My husband thought the fish and chips were fabulous. And I very much enjoyed the Asian chicken salad. The only cautionary note is that because the dishes are small, you tend to order many reasonably priced items but ending up with a high bill.
Gzuztra - 100 Ramot Yam Street (on the sea near Accadia Hotel), Herzlia - 09-954-8806 Reservations highly recommended
This restaurant so disappointed on every level that I wasn't even sure I should bother writing about it. Located one block in from the Tel Aviv beach, Prime Grill bills itself as "meat at its best". Prime Grill in New York (no connection) truly fits that description but the meats of Prime Grill in Tel Aviv were completely mediocre. The service was poor. And to top it all off, the prices were high. Not worth a visit.
Prime Grill - 60 Herbert Samuel, Tel Aviv - 03-510-0266
By now, you should know that one of my favorite places in Israel is MahaneYehuda (the marketplace or shuk in Jerusalem); as such, I am quite familiar with the ins and outs of the market. I still enjoyed and learnt from the tasting tour of MahaneYehuda given by Tali Friedman, a trained chef. She takes participants to her favorite food stalls and provides anecdotes at each stop. But the highlight of the designated stops are the tasting samples which included borekas, dried fruit and nuts, spiced dishes, and halva. At the fish store, Tali prepared tuna ceviche on the spot - both a visual and culinary treat. Afterwards, we went up to her charming cooking studio and rooftop garden, located right above the marketplace. There, we got a small tutorial in cheeses (all bought at the shuk) which we proceeded to nibble to sample with glasses of wine. Tours can be given in English or Hebrew. Tali Friedman - www.haatelie.com - to schedule a tour or cooking class call 050-461-9687 or email ta…
I was a huge fan of Lilith when it was a dairy restaurant and I love the concept of Lilith - it is partnered with Elem, an organization that aids teens at risk. However, I have been to Lilith twice since it became a meat restaurant, and, neither time did I walk out with a burning desire to return. The decor is lovely - very modern and sleek, and, overall, Lilith presents an upscale dining experience, but, the food, while good, did not stand out. In fact, even though I was there several weeks ago, I cannot even describe or remember what I had. Lilith - Asia House - 4 Weitzmann Street, Tel Aviv - 03-609-1331 - reservations recommended
Through the end of April, the Litvak Gallery is exhibiting the works of the famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly. The Litvak Gallery is a lovely art space in Tel Aviv and Chihuly's colorful works come alive there. It is not a large exhibit - an hour is sufficient - but the works are absolutely spectacular. I recommend using the audioguides that are distributed at no extra charge. Tickets can be ordered in advance or purchased at the gallery. Litvak Gallery - www.litvak.com - Museum Tower - 4 Berkowitz Street, Tel Aviv - 03-695-9496
In the 1860s, the Russians built the site known as the Russian Compound near the Old City which included a hostel for women making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. When the British came to power, the building was transformed into the central British prison; until 1948, hundreds of Jewish underground members of the Haganah, Etzel and Lehi were housed there together with Arab and Jewish criminals. In 1991, the building was reopened as a museum depicting the unique stories of the underground prisoners. One can walk through the recreated rooms of the prison and see two short films. It is a fascinating piece of history. I did not bring my children but I am told that there are some great activities for children. Museum of the Underground Prisoners - 1 Misheol Hagvurah Street, The Russian Compound, Jerusalem - 02-623-3166
This is the second tour that I have taken with the Tel Aviv Municipality (see September 24, 2010 entry) and once again, I totally enjoyed. The tours, given in Hebrew, are led by different guides and are quite quirky and original. I have yet to find an English tour of Tel Aviv that brings an area of Tel Aviv alive like these tours. The Florentine tour, held on designated Friday mornings, is led by DoronOzer who is quite familiar and active in the south Tel Aviv area. The historical content of the tour is entertaining (don't look for a comprehensive historical treatise here) and tends to focus on the modern history of the area. The tour ends with a visit to the Lechi museum which I skipped. The real charm of the tour is hearing about and meeting the individuals from all over the world who have made this gritty section of Tel Aviv their home for the last 100 years. Also, the stops at a Greek bakery and a Bukharian eatery for tasty samplers made the tour all the more fun.