Getting off on the right foot

Although I had to take it standing up, breakfast at Arieli’s was enjoyable – and the location gave me a real sense of the city.

Ari Miller coffee 248 (photo credit: Hannah Weitzer)
Ari Miller coffee 248
(photo credit: Hannah Weitzer)
Sderot Ben-Gurion
(corner of Rehov Dizengoff), Tel Aviv
Open 7 days
Not kosher
When I was a young girl, my grandmother used to gently reprimand me every time I ate standing up. During a recent morning visit to Arieli’s, I was reminded of her telling me that I’d have big feet (I do) if I continued to eat while standing. But I’m sure she’d have smiled if she knew why I was standing during breakfast at Arieli’s.
I had just finished errands in central Tel Aviv when my four-month-old son fell asleep in his stroller. I thought a stop at a cafe for a quick breakfast was a good idea. Arieli’s kiosk cafe (there’s no sign), at the corner of Dizengoff and Ben-Gurion, is a neighborhood hangout in the best sense of the word. You can choose between sitting at the bar around the cafe hut or at the municipal picnic tables positioned along the boulevard. The concept of this place is simple – cheap street fare.
On the menu are a few salads, a few sandwiches and breakfast – all for less than NIS 30. I decided on the shakshuka breakfast (NIS 25) which came with tehina, pickles and a fresh loaf of ciabatta. I parked the stroller at one of the picnic tables near the cafe. Although I am not from the neighborhood, it was obvious that this was one of those places that attracted a regular crowd. The guys behind the counter seemed to know almost everyone. One of the other aspects that attracted me to this cafe was the other customers at the picnic tables – almost all mothers with strollers. After all, the children and maternity oriented complex Dyada is nearby.
Arieli’s is a self-service cafe. But just when my breakfast meal was ready, my son decided he didn’t want to nap after all. Actually, he decided a colic attack was in order. One of the servers came out of the kiosk to bring me my order. And while at first I tried eating with baby on my lap, it became obvious rather quickly that if I wanted breakfast I’d have to stand. In retrospect a sandwich would have been easier to eat in this position. The other mothers looked at me encouragingly while I bounced my son between forkfuls of shakshuka.
Although not the comfortable morning break I had hoped for, being on Sderot Ben-Gurion was nonetheless enjoyable. Ben-Gurion connects the beach to Kikar Rabin and as such the foot traffic is great. Tel Aviv’s boulevards offer visitors and residents alike a real sense of the city. Friday mornings (especially sunny days) attract the most urban traffic, but there’s action along the boulevards all week. After all, the Dizengoff-Ben-Gurion corner is one of the city’s hot spots, with three of the busiest hangouts.
In addition to Arieli’s, a number of other old kiosks have been transformed into updated cafes. The first is Espresso Bar, then Arieli’s and then Hasdera. The city’s boulevards all have benches in the shade of beautiful old trees, and small playgrounds. They offer a sanctuary from the rush of the city. The young and the old, the beautiful and the eccentric, moms and tots, couples and singles with dogs – all can be found sitting, sipping and reading on these tree-lined avenues.
The city of Tel Aviv is alive and well, and though I was not sitting atthe table I had managed to snag, the feeling of being part of the cityhubbub was still enjoyable. And then, just as I was about to pack upand go, the guys from Arieli’s came out with glasses of lemon soda foreveryone sitting at the picnic tables, saying it was to avoiddehydration. It was a simple gesture that will likely lead others toreturn to sit here.
I, for one, will be coming back.
Rate: Four Stars
Locatedon a central boulevard, Arieli’s offers cafe-goers a real sense of TelAviv. People-watching is at its best on Friday mornings.