New market in town

Presenting Rothschild-Allenby, Tel Aviv's new food center.

Halva at Machneh Yuda Ba’Ir spice shop (photo credit: MIRIAM KRESH)
Halva at Machneh Yuda Ba’Ir spice shop
(photo credit: MIRIAM KRESH)
Until recently, Tel Aviv had three notable covered markets: Tel Aviv Port, Sarona Market and Shuk Tzafon in Ramat Hahayal.
Now there is a fourth: Rothschild-Allenby – so new that as of this writing it has been open only four weeks. It has become the hot place in the center of town to meet up with friends for a nosh or to get a meal – even if you like to eat at odd hours. You can relax with a glass of wine or fuel yourself with coffee; grab a fresh croissant on the fly or sit down to a small feast. The market is open seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with some vendors staying open as late as 2 a.m., making it insomniac-friendly ground.
For a market, it’s not really a market. Not a place to shop for provisions to take home, and anyway, the authentic Carmel shuk is only a short bus ride away.
Rothschild-Allenby is a sophisticated complex of eateries and booze outlets running through the ground floor of the handsome Shalom Meir Tower, with guards standing at the tall glass doors and an upscale Tel Aviv atmosphere throughout. The sound system broadcasts pleasant upbeat music, not too loud for enjoyment and not so beat-driven as to put you in a trance.
It is similar to the Sarona covered market, although much smaller. You can walk a short loop and view all 32 eateries within a few minutes. But there are plenty of food choices, and judging by the attractive signage and tempting smells, the choices are good. The variety of high-quality fast foods and its excellent location combine to draw a secular crowd, which reportedly floods the place on Saturdays.
Set indoors and with plenty of tables around in food-court style, the place attracts laptop workers during quiet hours. This reporter, visiting the market during an afternoon lull, noticed several fiercely focused people at corner tables peering at monitors and being productive with coffee, weekly journals and cellphones handy. There’s not a lot of privacy for business or intimate conversations, but as ours is a culture accustomed to overhearing strangers’ lives conducted loud and clear on cellphones in public, this may not be a deterrent.
The front end of the market – the side closest to Rothschild Boulevard – embodies the food court.
There you find small feasts of the kind you can order and consume in 20 minutes. Most of the stands are owned by first-time vendors who might branch out if they’re successful, and small versions of well-known eateries such as Olivery Pizzeria, HaMalabiya and Delicious Deli Bar.
Aficionados of Mexican food can enjoy an icy margarita with their taco al pastor or chili con carne at Mexico City. The South African Bunny Chow stand offers meaty curried sandwiches in halla rolls. Lovers of Asian food can indulge their passion at Men Ten Ten, Rak Thai, Sushi and Sake, and Dim Sum Station.
When comforting carbs are calling your name, there’s Tatos, which features baked potatoes stuffed with cheese, meat or salmon. Or go for Italian at the Olivery Pizzeria, where a worker takes thin-crust pizza out of the blazing taboun oven. There are pasta and salads, too – all in authentic Sicilian style. Then there’s Paleo and Senor Chi: meat off the grill and the rotisserie for the carnivore in you.
If you’re breezing through for a healthy drink to drive workday energy up, stop at the Prisilia juice stand, where bottles of freshly pressed fruit juices in gem-like colors stay cold on ice. Or order a virtuous green smoothie. On the other, caffeine-driven hand, there’s Coffee 36, where you can grab a very good cuppa Joe to keep your adrenalin high.
Rothschild-Allenby offers alcoholic options for a different kind of thirst: Beer Box, with a large selection of Israeli and imported beers, the HaBaron Rothschild wine cellar, and the Edmund Allenby wine and spirits bar, which offers little snacks to go with your fine whiskey and cigar. Not all vendors are as educated as they should be; this reporter was surprised to see racks of wine displayed under full fluorescent lighting, which doesn’t do wine any good.
The salesman described a flask of red wine with sliced strawberries floating in it as “sangehria.”
It took a second to understand that he meant sangria.
Does a sweet tooth torment you with longings for sugar? You can choose between a place that sells a tower of waffle cubes dribbled with all kinds of toppings, or hand-made fruit pops or artisanal ice cream. Not to mention a bakery selling rich cookies and sweet baked goods. Or how about a Middle-Eastern malabi pudding, snow-white and silky under a topping of syrup and chopped nuts? It’s only a matter of how much your sweet tooth can take.
Amid all the international gourmet goodies, there’s Abu Allenby, a stand that offers old-time hummus with no preservatives.
The back end of the market, which exits towards Nahalat Binyamin Street, is where the more market-like shops are. There’s a tiny greengrocer; a bakery called La Farina that sells spectacular sweet baked goods like croissants covered in a pistachio icing plus several kinds of focaccias; and a spice/coffee shop named after Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market. These shops give a nod to the proven Tel Aviv “shuk” brand and are convenient for neighbors in the prestigious Shalom Meir Tower above when they run out of artichokes, imported olive oil or freshly-ground coffee on a Saturday. You won’t find anything as plebeian as milk and eggs there.
Master Fish, the fresh fish shop, is attached to an eatery that’s the only kosher business on the premises. As someone who keeps kosher, I naturally took a good look.
On the shop side, a beautiful corvina reclined on ice, labeled in English with the less familiar name of meager. I watched a fishmonger expertly fillet a large, fresh salmon for a customer. Being hungry, I hopped on a bar stool and ordered bass served over quinoa and salad, with lashings of tehina. It was served in a cardboard bowl and was flavorful and good. For a reasonable NIS 55, it was a satisfying meal. The person next to me ordered fish and chips, which looked excellent. Others around me praised their fish sandwiches. If the other eateries match the quality of Master Fish, I’d say that hungry people can rely on the food at Rothschild Allenby.
The management is bent on attracting all comers and thus offers pork and seafood at the Asian places and at Chipsea King. No doubt it’s hard to pay for a hechsher and close on what may be the most profitable day of the week, but it’s a shame that there’s only one kosher outlet at the market. I saw several men wearing kippot walking straight through the place with their head-kerchiefed wives, looking disappointed. For the religiously observant, it would be great to be able to taste at least the artisanal ice creams available at the market, especially with summer coming up and the heat driving everyone indoors for cool comfort.
One big advantage this new market has is its location: smack in the center of Tel Aviv, where two of the main roads intersect. It’s easily accessible by bus or on foot when you’re in the city running errands. There’s even a bicycle stand in front of the building where you can drop your green, rented, Tel Aviv bike.
In case the address of the market has slipped your mind, it’s on the corner of Rothschild Boulevard and Allenby Street.