Rehov Bograshov 35, Tel Aviv
Tel (03) 528-3362
Open 7 days: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
My favorite time to visit Olive Coffee Bar is on Friday mornings. Of course, that's also much of Tel Aviv's preferred time, so I try to schedule my visits just before the late morning weekend rush, thus avoiding the otherwise inevitable queue. As there's no actual hour that the mob begins, sometimes I make it, other times I wait.
The haunt was opened in 2000 with a Parisian cafe attitude in mind. Like cafes in Paris, Olive serves as a meeting place, a place to relax or refuel, and as one of the social pulses of the city. Fridays are packed with neighborhood folk, residents from other areas of the city, and those on their way to the beach. While dogs may not be welcomed at European eating places, as with many Tel Aviv cafes, Olive is pet-friendly (there's a house dog) and many regulars come with furry friends in tow.
Typical Paris cafes are not coffee shops in terms of menu; rather they generally come with a complete kitchen offering restaurant meals for all times of the day, a full bar, and even a wine selection. Olive fits this bill. For breakfast, Olive recommends its "French breakfast" (fried eggs on toast with cream cheese, tomato and lox filling, side order of fried mushrooms and potatoes, vegetable salad, coffee and juice - NIS 39), though as a non-fish eater I prefer the "Olive breakfast" (eggs, three cheeses, olives, salad, fresh bread, coffee and juice - NIS 36).
Based on glimpses at other patrons' plates, lunch/dinner favorites seem to include the steak entrecote (NIS 64), schnitzel (NIS 42), vegetable antipasti plate (NIS 38), and roast beef sandwich (NIS 38).
While there is no children's menu, Olive is well known for its child-friendly attitude. Affable waiters will coo at children in strollers, and swerve around those running between tables. Overall, the service at Olive is superb.
Another of Olive's advantages is its outdoor seating. There is seating inside (including a non-smoking area), but the patio spaces are by far the favored spots.
The cafe is blessed with great sunlight and its outdoor tables offer patrons a taste of quintessential Parisian cafe life; sit undisturbed and watch the world go by for a couple of hours.
Most coffee shops in Tel Aviv are given a four-year life span. Seven-year-old Olive's popularity only seems to grow as the years go by. Indeed, while there are dozens of cafe options in the city, this coffee bar is exceptional, boasting a great atmosphere, good service, good food and a great location.
It's no wonder there are so many other people trying to snag a table on Friday mornings.
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