44 Shabazi St., Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 516-4354
Sun-Thurs, 8 a.m. to midnight; Fri 8 a.m. to Sabbath; Saturday, 18:30 to midnight
My friend called to say she "found" a great little cafe for my column. There was no time for considering the option; she had already decided we were going that evening and came to pick me up.
Indeed, Michelle Cafe-Bar is a cool little place. That said, almost all the cafes and bars in the quaint Tel Aviv neighborhood of Neve Tzedek are charming. This particular place is so understated on the outside that walking past it would be easy - I visit Neve Tzedek once a week and have never noticed it.
At first we sat at one of the wooden tables across from the bar on the ground floor. This is no place for private conversation - the venue is small and tables are side-by-side. Michelle is a neighborhood hangout, and it seemed we were the only ones who didn't know someone else. Just as we ordered, the people sitting upstairs left and we took their places. In the loft area there's a much sought-after seating space with couches and pillows. We made ourselves at home. The waiter/bartender brought us games (chess, jackpot!) to play (obviously he's accustomed to people staying for the entire evening). The ambiance is homey and relaxed. The walls are painted a deep red and give the place an enchanting feel. The artwork includes huge photographs of nature alongside smaller framed Indian pictures. Though it was evening, we decided to split breakfast. We were surprised by the low-priced fare. And though we had intended to stop by only for a short coffee break, we were so comfortable at Michelle's that we repeatedly delayed going home.