Dylan Stein is a restaurant review writer for TasteTLV. TasteTLV is the ultimate culinary guide for dining in Tel Aviv.
Aviv can be a pricey city, but hidden in the cracks of the city, is a
vibrant scene of cheap eateries that reflect the diverse cultural and
culinary landscape. Here are my top five restaurants that will allow
you to enjoy a delectable meal without spending more than NIS 35. In no
particular order: Sabich Frishman, Erez, Abu Dahbi Hummus, Shmaya, and
Eat Meat. The quality of these five places is reflected in the throngs
of people that flock to each.
1. Sabich Frishman
Cuisine origin: Iraqi
one thinks of fast food in Israel, falafel immediately comes to mind.
The lesser-known sabich is a must-try, and many foodies will tell you
that there is nothing better to sink your teeth into. Sabich was
introduced by Iraqi Jews, and was first seen in Israel in Ramat Gan in
1958. Rather than deep fried chickpeas, Frishman Sabich fills your pita
with eggplant, egg, and potato. In addition to this are the familiar
accompaniments of hummus, tehina, tomato, parsley, cucumber, purple
cabbage and onion, which are all loaded on generously.
The mango based
spicy sauce called amba takes this dish to the next level. The
combination of egg and hummus is a very interesting and creates a
satisfying interplay of flavors that will leave your taste buds yearning
for another bite.
Price point: This glorious pita will only set you back NIS 17.
Be sure to stock up at the salad bar with portions of pickled cabbage,
peppers and carrots. It also should be noted that the sharp flavor of
vinegar contrasts and enhances the flavors in the sabich.
Bottom Line: You are going to be full for the rest of the day.
Address: 42 Frishman
Hours: Sun-Thurs 10 a.m. till midnight, Fri 10 a.m. till 4 p.m., one hour after Shabbat goes out
Not kosher, vegetarian
Cuisine origin: Yemenite
one walks into the Yemenite Quarter in Tel Aviv it feels as if they
have been transported to a simpler time. Busy traffic, flashing signs
and bustling crowds all vanish and a sense of inner peace sets in. There
are numerous eateries in the Yemenite Quarter, but in my opinion the
best is Erez.
Behind an unassuming exterior one will find delectable
Yemenite cuisine presented against the backdrop of red brick walls and
distinctive artwork. All meals include a delicious eggplant and garlic
dip, halbe, and unlimited pita. One time at Erez and I assure you that
you will be going back for more.
Price Point: The
best choice is the lunch special, which includes two skewers (spring
chicken, kebab, liver, heart of chicken or red meat), and three side
dishes (hummus, tehina, chips, white beans, green beans, rice or Israeli
salad) for NIS 33. My personal favorite kebab was the spring chicken, a
flavor explosion of tender chicken in my mouth.
Bottom line: Life is good in the Yemenite quarter.
Address: 24 Nahliel Street, The Yemen Quarter
Hours: Sun-Thurs 9 a.m. till 7 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. till one hours before Shabbat enters
3. Abu Dahbi Hummus
Cuisine origin: Galilee
People defend their favorite hummus restaurant in Tel Aviv in a similar
manner to how one would defend their favorite sports team. There are
many hummus places in Tel Aviv, each with their own merits. In my
opinion, the best spot is Abu Dahbi, which serves up a Galilee-style
hummus as well as Meshawsha (tangy hummus) and Hummus-Ful (hummus with
brown beans). You can get sides of salad, chips, and one-shekel falafel
What puts Abu Dahbi a head above the competition is the
atmosphere. Abu Dahbi is characterized by a Rastafari vibe, with reggae
music constantly playing in the background and a green, red and yellow
color scheme. Everyone on the crowded patio is in a state of “lounge”,
as they linger after their meal sipping on complementary coffee. Abu
Dahbi is an oasis of hummus and music in the middle of a hectic city. If
you find your life is moving at too fast a pace and you need a break,
you can come here to chill.
Price point: The entire meal will cost around NIS 25.
Tip: Best time to go is on
Fridays - you will have to wait for a table but it is well worth it:
Free shots of Arak and free refills of hummus.
Bottom Line: Chill out man and eat some more hummus.
Address: King George 81
Hours: Sun- Thurs 10 a.m. till 8 p.m., Fri 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.
Not kosher, vegetarian
Cuisine Origin: Jewish
Located in Florentin, the lunchtime crowds are always visible at
Shmaya. As you enter, your nostrils will be greeted with a tantalizing
aroma and your eyes will perceive a large open stove top covered in a
wide variety of scrumptious looking dishes. Warm yellow walls embrace
the patron and create a feeling of lightheartedness. The menu stays
roughly the same.
Every day there is a variation of chicken, fish or
beef dishes, served on a bed of veggies and rice. The owners of this
restaurant hail from a family of nine children and all the recipes were
passed down from their mother. Shmaya encapsulates the connection
between Judaism and food. The vibe gives one the sense they are getting a
dose of Israeli family love.
Price Point: You can choose
either plate for NIS 28 and get one meat choice, or NIS 38 for two meat
choices, which is a huge amount of food, so only order if you’re
ravenous. Both include a starter of hummus and pita. The last time I
ate at Shmaya, the most popular dish was slow roasted chicken with dates
and anise. This was a mouth-watering combination.
Bottom Line: “EAT! You’re skin and bones,” said in a Jewish grandmother voice.
Address: 2 Vital
Open till food runs out; closed Friday night and Saturday
5. Eat Meat
Cuisine Origin: Argentine
Looking in the tiny space that is Eat Meat, you will see crowded faux
wood counters, delicious smelling, succulent looking entrecote on the
grill, and some very good-looking sandwiches being made assembly-line
style. The sandwiches are made on round ciabatta buns heated to a crispy
First, mayo, Dijon mustard and chimichurri sauce are
applied. Next, grilled meat, grilled onions, lettuce and tomato are
piled on. There is an option to add an egg for an extra five shekels,
which I highly recommend. The end result is one mean sandwich that will
leave you with a full belly and a smile on your face.
Price Point: The sandwiches will set you back a mere NIS 31.
Tip: Sit at the bar to watch a constant stream of sandwich creation.
Bottom Line: More meat, less problems.
Address: 68 King George
Hours: Sun-Thurs 10 a.m. till 10 p.m., Fri 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.
Dylan studied Political Science at
Queens University in Kingston Ontario. It is near impossible to find a
food he does not like, and he has embarked on culinary adventures on six