Dining: Changos is a game changer

Tasty, authentic Mexican food is as close as Tel Aviv.

Changos restaurant in Tel Aviv (photo credit: PR)
Changos restaurant in Tel Aviv
(photo credit: PR)
For a while now I’d been saying that there isn’t any good upscale Mexican restaurant in Tel Aviv, so finding Changos (Spanish slang for “monkey”) has been a game changer! You won’t find another Mexican eatery in the Florentine area that’s as tasteful, as clean and as welcoming as this place. As soon as I sat down, I felt at home.
Colorful mural artwork adorn the walls. Mostly indoors with an open patio area, the restaurant is small but full of warmth and excitement as you take a look at their menu. The dishes are unique, and the flavors are wonderfully surprising yet comfortingly subtle. Infused flavors enhance the dishes rather than overwhelm.
Owner Avi Azizoff took some time from his busy kitchen to talk with us about his culinary adventures. Having lived in Los Angeles for 25 years, he used to take regular motorcycle rides to Mexico, and it was there that he developed his passion for authentic Mexican cuisine.
We ordered some special house margaritas, which came frozen.
Usually frozen margaritas are the weak sibling of a margarita on the rocks, but not at Changos. These liquid, semi-frozen treasures will knock you firmly on your derriere.
We tried the strawberry and pineapple frozen margaritas. Not too sweet or too sour, they tasted reasonably alcoholic (sometimes I get margaritas that taste like someone forgot to put in the tequila, and that’s annoying).
The homemade tortilla chips (NIS 28) are wonderful. They’re not the massive, gooey plate of refried beans and melted cheese we gringos are used to; they’re more authentic style – single tortilla chips served with sides of guacamole, sour cream and black beans. The different salsas were delicious. I kept going around and around, changing my mind about which one was my favorite.
Next up was the carne asada taco – marinated vacio (veal) on the grill, with onion, coriander and salsa (one NIS 15; a trio NIS 40). It was just the right taste of crunchy, marinated flavor. The veal was amazing. The fat was trimmed off, and the meat was cooked just right so you could taste the moistness and a little bit of a grill flavor.
This was followed by the mushrooms taco – Portobello and champignon mushrooms, grilled tomato and fresh pepper (one NIS 13; a trio NIS 34). It had just the right amount of spice, and I loved the deep, smoky flavor of the mushrooms. A tasty vegetarian dish.
After a bit of a breather and two more margaritas, we were presented with the pollo asado burrito (NIS 34).
It consisted of grilled chicken fillet with grilled pineapple, rice, beans, onions, coriander and salsa. The chicken was tender, and the beans tasted like they had been slow cooked for hours. There was also a good balance between the spicy chicken and the sweet pineapple. It was everything you could ever want in a burrito.
Last we tried the chili relleno (NIS 30). The deep-fried pepper with cheese, onions and jalapeños is a delight one can’t indulge in too often. The batter around the chili wasn’t too thick, and the cheese inside was plentiful. Even more lovely was the tomato, squash and cinnamon sauce that topped the chili relleno, creating a rich and exotic flavor in the already wonderful dish.
The tres leches cake (NIS 35) was absolutely the best way to finish off the meal. This traditional Mexican cake made with three sweet creams was completely soaked through but not falling apart mush and only slightly sweet. Even though I was stuffed, I didn’t want to stop eating that delicious dessert.
I had been looking for a great authentic Mexican place for a while, and in my opinion it really doesn’t get any better than Changos in terms of food quality and customer service.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher
25 Washington Boulevard, Tel Aviv
(03) 503-6425