Dining: New kid on the block

Diego San is a hot spot in TA’s Levinsky Market.

April 12, 2015 18:25
3 minute read.
Diego San in Tel Aviv

Diego San is a hot spot in TA’s Levinsky Market. (photo credit: PR)


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Diego San has been open for just over a month and has already become a hot spot in Tel Aviv’s trendy Levinsky Market area. Lacking any pretension, this place embodies everything I could ask for in a go-to spot: creative and well-crafted cocktails, a simple yet diverse and well-executed menu, friendly service and a chill vibe.

This place is terrific, with delicious and imaginative food in smaller tapas-type portions. They take the best concepts from Asian and Mexican culinary traditions and fuse them with the thread of ingredients common to each cuisine. Everything is flavorful, fresh and delicious.

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As for the space itself, it is gorgeous in a cool and hip but elegant and sophisticated way.

Diego San attracts a diverse crowd and a broad spectrum of ages. It’s a place where anyone looking for lots of alcohol and unpretentious fun can feel comfortable.

The restaurant was already full of party goers when we arrived.

Cocktails are tailored to each dish, and our waitress lost no time in advising us. We started with the pina colada (NIS 36). It was smooth, creamy and delicious.

Even my dining companion, who hates coconut, loved it. This was followed by a frozen margarita (NIS 34). I normally steer clear of frozen margaritas because they are notoriously watery and full of more ice than tequila, but here the frozen margarita packed just as much punch as its on-the-rocks counterpart. It was not too sweet and had a good amount of alcohol in it.

While sipping on our cocktails, we were treated to some pad Thai popcorn (NIS 21). Consisting of caramel corn with peanuts, lime, hot chilies, fish sauce and cilantro, this delicious sweet-and-salty bar snack delivered quite a kick.

With the alcohol swirling around in our stomach, we dug into some hearty appetizers. First up was the soba noodle salad (NIS 34). It was not too peanuty, like many soba noodle salads are. It was a little spicy, a little salty and a little sweet. We were left wanting more.

Next up was the Korean nachos, which consisted of a pile of Asian shrimp chips topped with melted cheddar cheese, tomato salsa, sour cream and pickled jalapeños. They were very flavorful and really hit the spot.

This was followed by the extra crispy, double fried chicken wings (NIS 38). The wings had the just right amount of crunch, and the meat was juicy and tender. The skin was the best part, though, nice and crispy (like a good Peking duck).

After a bit of a breather and a few shots of tequila, we were presented with two chili con carne tacos (NIS 37). The tacos were sublime – crispy and roasted on the outside and super tender and moist... very flavorful and not too greasy.

This was followed by two delicious mini cheeseburgers on steamed buns (NIS 52). Last, we tried the bibimbap (NIS 54). This signature Korean dish is not only fun to say, but eating it is an adventurous and satiating endeavor. It’s chock full of warmly satisfying ingredients such as ground beef, topped with an egg, and ends with a reward of golden, crunchy rice that you scrape from the hot stone bowl. To me, this dish was pretty near perfect.

For dessert, we tried the Day San (NIS 34), which consisted of caramelized plantain, coconut sorbet, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and candied pecans.

Diego San is a classic after-hours place to go, no matter what angle you look at it. The crowd always changes, and the alcohol keeps flowing. I have the distinct feeling that Diego, with its delightful atmosphere, good food and drink, will be around for a long time to come.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Diego San
Not kosher
2 Hamashbir, Levinsky Market, Tel Aviv
(03) 553-1557

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