TasteTLV is the ultimate culinary guide for dining in Tel Aviv.
The restaurant, named after its owner, Puaa
Ladijensky, has remained a clear staple in both the Jaffa flea market
and local dining scene over the last ten years. In her humble
beginnings, Puaa set out as a flower seller, who on occasion would serve
tea to local customers. Popularity for Puaa’s welcoming reception grew,
leading her to open a café in the manic flea market. Puaa remained
undeterred by the quiet, dirty character of the streets that existed
past market closing time. As the neighborhood shifted under the gaze of
gentrification, so too did the reception of Puaa’s establishment,
leading her to move to a larger location.
Lending itself to
Jaffa’s flea market, Puaa brings the market to the dining table. Every
piece of furniture, decoration and crockery, born out of the market, is
for sale. The café becomes a bazaar in itself, a twist on market life,
with the resurrection of old reborn into the wonderland of Puaa. Fresh
flowers and plants placed on every table is Puaa’s stamp of her original
market trade throughout the restaurant. Its patrons are a mixed crowd;
local hipsters slouch on comfy couches, trendy Tel Avivians sip wine at
their candle lit tables and Jaffa store owners mingle with the staff.Cuisine: Home style meat, fish, dairy and vegetarian
Price range: NIS 30-50 3 Rabi Yochanan Street, Jaffa
(03) 682-3821, (03) 681-1140
Hours: Sunday to Friday from 9a.m. till 1a.m., Saturday from 10a.m. till 1a.m.Not kosher
hummus legend Abu Hassan’s reputation extends across the city as the
only worthwhile place to dip your pita. Abu Hassan’s fast pace
atmosphere is echoed by the workers’ nonchalance. The establishment
knows its dishes are good, so there are no frills involved with its
presentation. Even when asked about the history of the place, the
response given is “we just make hummus." In truth, other than the fact
that Abu Hassan (the current owner's father) opened the restaurant in
1966, little is known about its history.
There are only three options on Abu Hassan’s non-existent menu: hummus,
masabacha, and the triangle plate of hummus, masabacha and ful in one
Curiosity surrounds the secret of their hummus:
what makes it so balanced and creamy? What makes this hummus so darn
good? No one knows. At Abu Hassan, they simply don't brag; it's as if
perfection is expected of hummus, with no justification necessary. This
expectation reflects the bond between Middle East cultures and hummus.
The dish dates back to the thirteenth century, and stayed a staple ever
since. Cuisine: Hummus, Masabacha
Price range: NIS 30-50 1 Dolphin St., Jaffa
Hours: Sunday to Friday from 8a.m. till 3p.m.Not kosher
Yoezer Wine Bar
For a real out of the city experience, Yoezer Wine Bar
will transport you to the Ottoman Empire, and has been doing so for
over 13 years. Converted from a 19th century wine cellar complete with
dark old stone arches and dreary lighting by dripping candelabras, the
environment alone provides an unforgettable experience. The first time
your eyes feast on the vaulted roof, uneven floors, lumbering tables and
random ancient dining chairs, you will think you have stumbled into the
wrong place. The Provençal French menu was constructed by one Israel's
best-known gourmets, Shaul Evron.
The food menu focuses on
simplicity and excellence, while using fresh quality ingredients to make
classic French and Italian dishes. The prices do not run cheap, but it
is most worthwhile. If you are not up for one of the legendary streaks
or the "40 eggs-yolks Pasta", which is served with Botardo (a Turkish
delicacy of dried fish roe), perhaps try the Crodo, a mouthwatering
serving of veal tartar with fresh truffles. Even so, the restaurant is
most well known for its excellent selection of wines from all over the
globe. Yoezer is said to have one of the most extensive and finest wine
menus in Israel and includes a selection from Burgundy, imported
exclusively for Yoezer. Cuisine: Classic French and Italian food
Price range: NIS 110-2002 Ish-Habira St. Jaffa (near the Clock's Square)
Hours: Sunday to Thursday from 12:30 p.m. till 1a.m., Friday to Saturday from 11a.m. till 1a.m.Not kosher
to neighborhood legend, Abdu, was indeed a fisherman in his early
years, and you may even catch a glimpse of him. His simple establishment
has been a fixture of Jaffa's main street among the local businesses
and apartments. The humble decorations include nautical visions of one
or another. The day's catch varies; the menu includes grouper, red
snapper, gray mullet, and mackerel, as well as melita, an Israeli breed
from the barracuda family.
Abdu Hadayag has for years been
serving good quality fresh fish and homemade salads.The traditional way
in these fish restaurants is to order the fish and before you can blink
your table will be covered with various middle eastern salads -
including: cucumber salad, carrot salad, humus, tehina, eggplant salad,
parsley salad, okra, pickled salad, olives and pickles, tabbouleh salad,
spicy tomato salsa and many more. The endless bucket of pita bread
comes plain and with za’atar and will keep you coming back for more.
Careful not to fill up before the fish even arrives - easier said than
done.Cuisine: Fish restaurant, Middle Eastern food
Price range: NIS 70-80 37 Yefet Street, Jaffa
Hamoudi and Layla, his wife and business partner, share the enchanting story of Al Matbah.
Al Matbah is much more than a restaurant; it is a symbol. It opened
less than a year ago and represents Layla’s profound personal history.
Coming from a family with a Jewish Iraqi mother and a Muslim Arab
father, she firmly believes in the ideology of harmony among different
peoples. Layla believes in “taking the beautiful things from each
culture and using them in our daily lives.” With respect for all
religions, she strives to portray food’s power to bring individuals
together and inspire dreams of coexistence.
So far, Al Matbah only employs two Arab women, and Layla deeply wishes
to be able to touch more lives with this project. She realizes that it
is difficult for Arab families to adjust to the idea of their daughters,
sisters, or wives working outside of the home. Nevertheless, she opens
Al Matbah’s rustic wooden doors to this possibility of change. Also,
Layla yearns for more help in making a lasting impression on society
through Al Matbah—a goal she could only achieve with additional loving
hands in her kitchen.Cuisine: Seasonal, homemade Middle Eastern food
Price range: NIS 40-60 Yefet Street 28, Jaffa
(03) 081-895, 052-426-2473
Hours: Al Matbah is currently only open at the weekend when Hamoudi and Layla have time to cook.
Kassandra Grunewald, Natalie Salhov, Zoe Jick, and Alexis Domb contributed to this report.
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