Healthy fast-casual eateries boom in Tel Aviv

Time for McDonald’s to be scared.

(photo credit: ZANTKERN MEDIA)
For decades fast-casual in Tel Aviv was code for shwarma, falafel or burgers. While staples like Yashka Shwarma won’t be going anywhere, there’s a fast-growing crop of eateries that value healthier cooking techniques (think sprouted nuts or avocado oil for frying) and they’re putting healthy foods front and center.
Whether you’ve got five minutes to spare or an afternoon to while away, here’s a look at the best spots for loading up on good fats, healthy carbs and seriously delicious (white-sugar free!) desserts.
Urban Shaman
Urban Shaman co-founder Udi Sahar is an OG in this space. Before he had his own sprawling indoor- outdoor self-service eatery he spent years selling on-demand cold-pressed juices, raw-vegan foods and cleanses long before they were a thing. After operating as a pop-up, Urban Shaman now has a permanent home on a busy stretch of Dizengoff Street. Dishes range from coconut and date-based “ice cream,” quinoa- based muffins, and buckwheat pancakes to grain and legume-rich stews and, of course, avocado toast and smoothie bowls.
210 Dizengoff Street,
Jars & Bowls
Israel is at the forefront of so many technologies, so it’s always surprising to see how many parts of daily life are antiquated. (How many times have you been asked to fax something?) Jars & Bowls is trying to change that. Instead of having a person take your order, patrons use digital kiosks where they can not only see the entire menu (including pictures), but can put in special requests (like no salt) as they check off picks. True to its name, dishes are served in either jars or bowls (mostly salads or rice/brown rice/quinoa-based veggie and legume mixes) and there is plenty of seating available both indoor and outdoor.
1 Rothschild Boulevard,
(03) 734-2780; Kosher.
Meshek Barzilay
Meshek Barzilay has long been a popular organic, vegetarian and vegan bistro in Neveh Tzedek. But more recently, owner Merav Barzilay opened a deli and gourmet shop next door. For this rustic-chic spot she was inspired by Whole Foods, meaning you’ll find a mix of fresh produce, packaged goods from local purveyors and a hot/ cold prepared-food bar where patrons can build their own meals. There are also baked goods, shakes and there’s local beer on tap, all of which you can enjoy to go, at a communal dining table or on their back patio.
6 Ahad Ha’am Street ,
(03) 516-6329; Deli, not restaurant, is kosher.
There’s a reason steak-lovers are blissfully happy dining at vegan eatery Bana: It’s insanely delicious. Unlike so many vegan spots, Bana does not try to mimic meat, but instead it uses the best quality produce to actually make you want to eat a plate of broccoli and cauliflower – seriously! Its dishes are flavorful thanks to hearty doses of raw sprouted nuts, nutritional yeast and other fiber-rich, healthy ingredients. Even its bread – whole spelt sourdough – is top-notch in flavor and optimized for easy digestion. While Bana is a restaurant, because of its lunch deal (one or two courses served with bread, tehina and roasted tomatoes for NIS 59-69), it has become a very popular spot for lunch takeaway.
36 Nahmani Street,
Golden Sun Kombucha
This adorable new destination is the only place dedicated to kombucha in Tel Aviv. In fact, if you’ve had kombucha in Israel, odds are that it was supplied by Golden Sun (they’re stocked at, among others, Citizen, Albert, Jusa, Bana, Teva Tari Jaffa and Makolet Teva). For the uninitiated, kombucha is a probiotic-rich drink that helps fight disease, helps with digestion and helps stimulate immune function. It’s a little sweet, a little sour and slightly carbonated, so it can help with soda addiction. In addition to the brew, Golden Sun stocks small vegan delights including pralines and vegan cookies from local brands like Piece of Nature (the menu will be expanding in the coming months). Every other week Golden Sun hosts events like poetry slams or music nights to bring the community together while serving kombucha, kombucha cocktails and a preview of the expanded menu (vegan curry, matcha and acai ice cream...).
87 Allenby Street,
Citizen Garden
While it would be a shame not to make use of Citizen Garden’s picturesque back garden, you can place a takeaway order at their bar for dishes like chia pudding, yogurt-based bowls, macro bowls (lentil & wheat, zoodle or herb quinoa-based) or avocado toast. They also have an extensive selection of specialty lattés (think beetroot or activated charcoal), elixirs (think a detoxing combo of ginger, lemon, activated charcoal, mint, turmeric and agave), coffee, wine and freshly pressed juices.
15 Montefiore Street,
BeetleJuice is a little grab-and-go shop that specializes in cold-pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls, chia pudding and cleanse programs. It also has a pop-up at Liky’s Port, a fitness studio, meaning that you can pre-order something from the menu and have it waiting for you after your workout is done. Everything is made fresh and their ingredients are top-notch (including blueberries sourced from the Shuk HaNamal).
While smoothie and acai bowls are often loaded with added sugars like honey or date syrup, BeetleJuice offers healthier alternatives, should you so choose.
32 Harav Yizkhak Yedidya Frenkel Street,
(03) 973-1565;
Cafe Hamanya
This laid-back new café from the owner of Bucke Café offers takeaway and a grab-and-go counter of raw-vegan desserts and cookies. Dishes include a selection of salads (the standout is freekeh salad, which comes with raw beetroot falafels, green tehina, and green chili crackers, and seaweed and zoodle salad), smoothie bowls, and fans of Bucke will recognize a take on the café’s signature tray with handfuls of various salads (in this case it’s a vegetarian version). With indoor and outdoor seating and a friendly staff, this place is always bustling.
37 Basel Street,
(03) 946-3990
Dosa Bar
Dosas are a staple of South Indian cuisine. Traditionally they’re served as a vegetarian dish consisting of a savory crepe made from fermented rice and black moong (a.k.a. mung) lentils and filled with potato masala and a tangy sambar (a.k.a. lentil-based vegetable stew). Dosa Bar – which just recently opened a next-door vegan dessert togo spot – offers a long list of healthy, affordable and filling options that you can enjoy there or order at the takeaway counter. All dosas, even the unfilled plain ones, come with various dipping sauces and a side of lentil stew/soup.
188 Ben-Yehuda Street,
(03) 659-1961; Kosher.
Neroli Health Food Store & Diner
A longstanding healthy food spot in Tel Aviv, Neroli is a self-service eatery and grocery store with a long list of organic, fresh produce as well as packaged goods. Their ready-to-eat raw vegan fare includes cauliflower rice sushi, raw pizza, raw pad Thai and a counter full of raw dessert options like blondies, brownies, spirulina balls and cookies. Neroli’s list of smoothies is also very extensive. While most people take their food to-go, there are a handful of tables inside and outside for those looking to dine in.
3 Lilienblum Street,
(03) 510-7869;
Jusa Cold Pressed
If all you’re looking for is a cold-pressed juice, cold popsicle or a small, healthy treat (think oatmeal pudding, vegan cashew nut yogurt, chia pudding, muesli, fresh coconut or tapioca), you can find a great selection at Jusa. From the same team as the ever-popular Tamara, Jusa also offers shakes and juice cleanses.
151 Ibn Gabirol Street,
(03) 730-5599;
Superfood Boutique
The coolers at Superfood Boutique are lined with preservative-free salads, savory bowls, sandwiches and sweets, all of which were conceived with the help of a naturopath to maximize nutrition and digestive benefits. Dishes range from the filling – think an Asian-inspired bowl made with forbidden rice noodles, mushrooms, edamame, carrot cream and miso/ginger dressing – to light, detox juices and smoothies.
10 Marmorek Street,
(03) 688-6779;
Appropriately named given that it’s box-size, Juice- Box has two locations, both of which were opened by local model Michael Lewis. This is a great stop for a quick bite or a liquid lunch. The menu includes green juices, fresh fruit or vegetable juices, smoothies, as well as health shots and bowls (acai, spirulina or cacao).
81 Ben-Yehuda Street and 28 King George Street
Talk to Juice
Opened just last month, Talk to Juice serves – you guessed it – juices, along with smoothies and a tightly edited menu of sandwiches. Standouts include their herb-topped caprece and refreshing green juice, all of which you can enjoy on-the-go or while waiting for your table at nearby and perpetually packed Benedict or Java.
196 Ben-Yehuda Street