When in Israel, eat like the locals do
Israeli street food is a culture in itself. Famous for its mouth-watering twists on taste and innovative concoctions, turning classic dishes into flavor explosions, it’s a must when traveling the country. From the north to the south, unassuming kiosks and hidden restaurants serve up some of the most unforgettable gastronomical experiences leaving locals queuing to inhale these hand-crafted delicacies. But this culture is not just about the food. There is something about locals sitting side by side in casual yet chaotic settings, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city. The melting pot of languages and the rapport between friends grabbing a bite under the sun’s glorious rays, it’s all part of Israel’s middle eastern magic.
In the last year, street food has become trendier than ever. Top chefs reinvented their brands to curate a memorable culinary interaction that satisfies both the taste buds and the soul. As traditional restaurant settings were part of the widespread closures, locals took to the streets to socialize and savor the epicurean delights. Israeli celebrity chefs, including Eyal Shani and Assaf Granit, were hailed for their desire to adapt and cater to the demand, creating a modern interpretation of recipes indigenous to the region with top-quality ingredients made to-go.
With the option to hang around and eat at sharing tables or join the droves of locals and fill up at one of Tel Aviv’s urban parks watching the world go by, you’ll soon realize why this is the place for foodies.
The Dirty – Eyal Shani
Have you even been to Israel if you haven’t experienced the sheer brilliance and ingenious food concepts from Eyal Shani? The legendary chef has redefined street food with Miznon, which is quite simply a masterpiece in a pitta. Shani’s newest street food venture, The Dirty, was born last year and has unsurprisingly received rave reviews. While Tel Aviv has many burger bars, nothing can touch the inspired flavors of Eyal Shani. Thick, fluffy challah sandwiches juicy entrecote patties with the option to add cheese or bolognese ragu. Vegans fear not, there’s a huge, crushed falafel patty in challah which could charm even the most avid carnivores. The fries are perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, paired with the dirty aioli; you simply can’t go wrong. Eat at the lively King George branch in the heart of Tel Aviv, and you may get a glimpse of Shani himself or head across the street to Meir Park for a more peaceful setting.
Teder Pizza & Cafe Romano – Eyal Shani
Eyal Shani really can do no wrong, and this pizza is hands down the best in Tel Aviv. Set inside the hipster Beit Romano in south Tel Aviv, Shani’s Neapolitan-style pizza draws in a vivacious crowd in the evenings. The pies are huge with a delicately thin and crispy base with the ideal amount of char, the mozzarella melts in your mouth, and the tomato sauce is tangy and delicious. Paired with olives and two types of freshly made spices, Shani knew exactly how to put his marvelous spin on traditional pizza. Behind Romano is the newly constructed urban Park HaMesila, which follows the route of the old Ottoman Railway. Shani’s newest creation, Cafe Romano, recently opened along the route and has quickly become the quintessential spot for comforting sandwiches with sensational fillings. Those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed with the buttery, flaky pastries and cakes baked to perfection, it’s a must for a leisurely stroll. With bike paths, luscious greenery, and scenic open spaces for seating, it has become a firm favorite of Tel Avivians to sit back and savor Shani’s indulgent treats.
GG Kubala – Assaf Granit
The genius behind Machneyuda in Jerusalem, Coal Office in London and the Michelin Starred Shabour in Paris, Assaf Granit, has diversified his incredible restaurant portfolio to open GG Kubala. The street food stand lies in the heart of Jerusalem, right by the iconic Machane Yehuda market and brings a new culinary concept to the area. The small menu offers sandwiches like you’ve never tasted, an explosion of aromas and flavors that are sure to get your taste buds tingling. The bun itself is a hybrid creation of challah and traditional Yemenite bread, Kubaneh, which allows all the succulent juices from the fillings to soak into it. Among the most popular sandwiches are the Kubala Caesar, Granit’s take on a chicken caesar salad, and the Kubala corn beef. Granit’s restaurants make sure to cater to vegans, and GG Kubala is no different, offering a grilled cabbage and tahini sandwich. However, the experimental food doesn’t stop there as sides including ‘chicken magnums’ have instantly become a social media hit. Don’t miss this one; it’s likely to become the foodie mecca of the pulsing Machne Yehuda market.