While Tel Aviv is full of restaurants representing cuisines from all over the globe, Mexican food is underrepresented compared to its relative popularity in the Western world. Even though Israelis embrace certain world cuisines such as sushi, Mexican food has notoriously been snubbed whenever there have been attempts to introduce it in the Land of Milk and Honey.
Donkey, the new Mexican fast food restaurant in Tel Aviv, is aiming to change all that.
On a recent visit to the small modern eatery at the corner of Hashmonaim and Carlebach, I was invited to sample some dishes from the concise menu and learn a little about the place.
Owners Paz Rotenberg and Alon Levi opened Donkey in a bid to expose the discerning diners of Tel Aviv to the world of Mexican food similar to that found in the US.
While Donkey is basically a fast food outlet, the all food is fresh and prepared on the premises each day – a concept known in the US as “fresh mix.”
Unlike some famous US fast food chains, the food at Donkey is light and made from fresh, natural ingredients – and nothing is fried.
The light and airy space is set out like any other fast food outlet, with the menu printed on a big board above the counter where the food is served. The beauty of the place is in the simplicity. The basic idea is that you choose something to fill – be it a burrito, taco or quesadilla – and then you choose the main filling. There is also the option of nachos, as well as a salad.
For my first sampling, I went for the tacos, a portion that consists of three small taco shells that can be loaded with three different fillings. I opted for the steak, chicken breast and minced meat. After filling the tacos with the meats, the very friendly and competent man behind the counter proceeded to load them to the max with the various rices, salads and dips. He even warned me that the tacos would overflow and drip everywhere once I put them in my mouth. Usually this would be a turn-off, but it was actually extremely fun and liberating to not care that the food was going everywhere. It was tasty, and that’s all that mattered.
Even though this dish was more than filling, I was convinced to try the signature burrito. This time, I just had one type of meat – chicken breast – but that was more than enough. Although it was a huge portion and, again, it was overflowing, I didn’t feel too full.
This has a lot to do with the fact that the all the food is fresh and not fried. The prices for the various dishes range from NIS 34 to NIS 38.
Rotenberg and Levi are convinced that their form of Mexican food will appeal to the Israeli market because it’s healthier and uses a lot of ingredients that Israelis are familiar with. While it won’t win any awards for fine dining, Donkey is an upmarket fast food restaurant that serves good quality food that is healthy at the same time.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Donkey (Not kosher)
91 Hashmonaim, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 546-5295
Open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.