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Market to Table: 6 Best Restaurants by the Carmel Market, Tel Aviv

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3 weeks ago

Tel Aviv’s dining scene is one of the greatest in the world. In recent years, a distinct Tel Avivi cuisine has emerged and spread everywhere from London to New York. Lots of sharing, warm sourdough, seasoned fish and all the fresh flavors of Israel’s high-quality produce.

The Carmel Market (or Shuk ha-Carmel) and neighboring Kerem Hateimanim (or Yemenite Quarter) is one of the top places to visit in Tel Aviv. The Carmel Market is most famous for little snack stalls and souvenir shops (you should arrange this Carmel Market tour to experience it at its best), but the real reason I love this area is that many of Tel Aviv’s best restaurants are hidden in its side streets. It’s market to table the Tel Aviv way. 

people sitting in cafes in Tel Aviv Kerem Hateimanim
The backstreets of Tel Aviv’s Kerem Hateimanim is full of little cafes with outdoor dining

I always try to give specific recommendations (and dishes to avoid) but many restaurants in Tel Aviv change their menus daily. Regardless, at these restaurants I can guarantee that you will eat well!

1. Café Yom Tov

Café Yom Tov is a grungy, hipster classic just behind the Carmel Market towards the whitewashed streets of the Kerem Hateimanim. With lovely outdoor seating and a cozy interior, Café Yom Tov offers one of my favorite breakfasts in Tel Aviv.

In some restaurants, we like to try new things; in others, we always return to the crowd favorites. I come to Café Yom Tov for one thing alone: the eggplant saluf. Soft-grilled eggplant with a slight curry powder aftertaste, served on the smoothest tahini of your life alongside a fresh parsley and radish salad, sliced egg and chilli – all accompanied with fresh, warm Yemenite bread.

During the week, Café Yom Tov can often be quiet and is a great place to get some work done. I’ll be honest, if you are in Tel Aviv on a Friday I wouldn’t even come close to Café Yom Tov: this place is so popular on a Friday, and you will see the crowds stretching into the streets of the Kerem Hateimanim.

2. HaBasta

A real star in the Tel Aviv dining scene. HaBasta offers outdoor seating right in the heart of the Carmel Market. Nothing says summer in Tel Aviv like an evening sitting outdoors at HaBasta with a glass of wine. Don’t let the grunge façade deceive you though, you will be paying for one of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv.

HaBasta changes their menu daily to match the fresh produce from the Carmel Market. That’s market to table the way it should be.

Local tip: Make sure you book HaBasta well in advance, especially during the summer months. If you can’t get a table, go by during the day and beg the staff – or better yet, indulge yourself for a late lunch!

3. Pereh

Pereh fits perfectly into the mould of the Tel Aviv restaurant. Outdoor dining for the Mediterranean climate, cozy indoor dining with soft music for the more intimate, special dinner and, of course, a daily changing menu.

Pereh is famous for its young and up-and-coming chefs, whose enthusiasm for high-quality food seeps into the dishes.

Keep an eye out for regular favorites on the Pereh menu, including the cured amberjack and fennel salad with a citrus vinaigrette, the raviolo (yes, in the singular) artichoke confit with egg yolk, chard and pecorino. And if you’re feeling decadent, the very non-Tel Aviv pancakes are a gift from the secular gods of Tel Aviv.

4. Balinjera

The history of Ethiopian Jews is utterly fascinating. With about 2.5% of Israel’s population having Ethiopian Jewish heritage, Israel is one of the best places in the world to try high-quality Ethiopian cuisine.

I have spent my fair share of time traveling in Ethiopia (in case that wasn’t clear, I’ve spent a lot of time in Ethiopia and eaten a lot of Ethiopian food). For me, the injera at Balinjera evokes the best flavors of the Ethiopian highlands. And, of course, it has that added bonus of Israeli freshness coming through with every bite.

5. Shlomo & Doron Hummus

At least one meal in Israel should be at a traditional hummusiya, and there is nowhere better to experience the hummus life than Shlomo & Doron.

I know the hummus wars can be contentious, but in my opinion the Israeli hummusiya is quite unique. A hummusiya is a restaurant which specializes in large hummus bowls with various toppings (tahini, egg, spices, mushrooms, meats – the list goes on). You’ll usually receive a plate of salad, some hot fluffy pitas and a bowl of pickles or olives.

Shlomo & Doron can be extremely popular. If you can’t get a table, try Asi & Adnan around the corner for quality hummus.

6. Yayin Ba-Kerem

Yayin Ba-Kerem is a new addition on my Tel Aviv list. This small wine bar sits at the bottom of Nahalat Binyamin and offers the opportunity to try excellent Israeli wines alongside a high-quality food menu.

Yayin Ba-Kerem has their own in-house wine shop, where they proudly charge ‘normal shop prices’ + 50 NIS (US$14) corkage fee. The staff will gladly talk you through the wines on offer, with a strong international selection and all the best of Israeli wine.

I often come to Yayin Ba-Kerem for more of an early evening drink and snack vibe, but you can certainly eat a full meal here. Their sourdough comes from the more famous OCD restaurant (good luck getting a reservation – you’ll need to try weeks in advance) and comes with the creamiest butter.

But the star attraction and real reason why I keep returning is the oven-roasted brie. It’s served on a bed of honey, with fresh thyme and crunchy sea salt.

Must-eat experience: Sabich Tchernikhovski

Less of a restaurant and more of a fast-food stall, I felt negligent excluding Sabich Tchernikhovski from any conversation of food near the Carmel Market.

Sabich is a unique Iraqi-Jewish dish which was created during the exodus of Iraq’s Jews to Israel. The sandwich consists of fried eggplant, egg, potato, fresh parsley and all the usual salads and amba (a traditional Iraqi-Jewish condiment).

Sabich Tchernikhovski is a strong contender for the best sabich in Israel (and is certainly my favorite).


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