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A Local Guide to the Best Restaurants in Florentin, Tel Aviv

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2 weeks ago

Admittedly, Florentin doesn’t offer the picturesque Bauhaus-lined streets of the Old North or Dizingoff Square. However, in many ways Florentin encapsulates the new, forward-facing character of Tel Aviv. Here, Israel’s most famous street artists cover the rundown walls of old industrial spaces, while high-tech wizards speed past on scooters or dot cafes with their laptops.

Recent years have seen Florentin transform from a slightly dodgy and rundown part of Tel Aviv to one of the city’s most up and coming creative dining hubs. With rents still somewhat affordable and an enviable walking distance to Rothschild and Allenby, Florentin is increasingly the place to be in Tel Aviv.

The beating heart of Florentin is the pedestrianized Levinsky Market, where you’ll find food stalls, cafes and the classic Israeli selection of spices and nuts. Much akin to the Carmel Market, the surrounding streets off Levinsky house the best restaurants in Florentin, Tel Aviv.

I’m in Tel Aviv a few times a year and maintain a near-obsessive oversight of Tel Aviv’s restaurant scene. If there’s one thing I’m passionate about, it’s eating out in one of the greatest dining cities on earth.

Breakfast or Lunch

Esther & Tony

In a city full of the world’s best breakfast cafes, Esther & Tony is always a vibe. In many ways this is something akin to your local Florentin neighborhood café: lots of people with laptops, excellent coffee and a small menu to keep you satisfied.

It’s very rare that I recommend a vegan breakfast option (I really do love eggs), but Tel Aviv cuisine is all about getting out of your comfort zone. The scrambled tofu with spinach and almond labnah is a real menu highlight. Best of all, it’s served on the traditional Jewish (extra sweet) challah bread.

Saluf & Sons

This father and son restaurant focuses on the best of Yemenite Jewish cuisine. With the exodus of Yemen’s entire Jewish community, Israel is the only place in the world to try Yemenite Jewish cuisine.

Saluf & Sons merges classic Yemenite Jewish staples with more common staples of Israeli cuisine. The menu here prides itself on sharing ‘grandma’s recipes’. You’ll find many unique Yemenite Jewish stews, soups and wraps.

If it’s your first time trying Yemenite Jewish cuisine, you can’t go wrong with malawach: a flaky soft pastry (don’t ask about the oil quantity), often sold with tomato salsa and an egg. Alternatively, jachnun and kubnah are unique pastry dishes which you’ll likely only find in Tel Aviv. They’re served with salads, dips or other mezze.

While this is a more casual restaurant, the staff here are often open for a good time. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself downing shots of arak at the bar with your waiter!

Dinner

Bet Romano

Bet Romano is one of the landmark restuarants of Eyal Shani, the genius Israeli chef who revolutionized Tel Avivi cuisine, and set up restaurants in New York, London and Melbourne.

While I am a huge fan of Port Said and love a night out at HaSalon, I think, overall, the food quality at Bet Romano offers the best of Shani’s Tel Aviv restaurants. In short, this is my favorite of the best restaurants in Florentin, Tel Aviv.

As you enter the restaurant, it’s hard to believe you are going to pay this much to eat in such a grungy, rundown environment – but welcome to Tel Aviv. As expected, the menu at Bet Romano changes daily. However, you can expect lots of fresh fish and vegetables bursting with flavor – likely served in paper bags (you’ll understand once you try them).

Local tip: Bet Romano sits right upstairs from Teder.fm, the quintessential Tel Aviv nightlife institution. Combining Bet Romano with Teder is the ultimate Tel Aviv night out.

Ouzeria

Ouzeria is Tel Aviv’s landmark Greek restaurant. But don’t expect your local neighborhood tavern. In every way possible, Ouzeria is peak Florentin. The restaurant somehow manages to combine a hip yet relaxed tone, while the food is a unique take on Greek favorites all guised under a Tel Avivi-style tapas menu.

You’ll want to go heavy on the small starters. The standout starter is easily the Tulum cheese and cherry tomato jam bruschetta (did you know cherry tomatoes were invented in Israel?). From the main menu, I tend to lean towards the vegetarian and fish offerings (the eggplant carpaccio is a dream). However, you’ll find a solid chicken and meat menu too, including a popular moussaka using Jerusalem artichokes.

Tometomato

One of the newest restaurants taking Florentin by storm. Tometomato is famous for their homemade pasta and lasagne, made using fresh quality ingredients. My Tel Avivi friends regularly say that Tometomato is better than any pasta dish in Italy. A bold claim, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The traditional pasta flavors are easily the standout dishes here: sage butter pasta, cacio e pepe… you know the drill. Tometomato has become extremely popular, extremely quickly. This means you’ll often be waiting a long time for your dish. I’d recommend going early, or having a little drink and snack beforehand.

Snacks

Borekas of Mother Levinsky

Borekas are flaky stuffed pastries, found across the former Ottoman Empire. If you have traveled in Türkiye or Bulgaria, you will be familiar with the very-similar burek. In Israel, borekas tend to get quite creative with different types of cheese, mushrooms, ‘pizza’ and eggplant.

I am proudly an Israeli boreka expert and do my best to eat borekas every single day I am in Israel. I have no shame in declaring that Borekas of Mother Levinsky (הבורקס של אמא לוינסקי) takes my award for the best borekas in Israel. The borekas here are larger than your regular bakery boreka, served with egg and fresh tomato salsa. I treat them as a snack or quick breakfast on the go, but they could probably be a lunch for some.

Café Levinsky

Less a café and more of a quintessential Tel Aviv experience, Café Levinsky is a famous gazoz cafe. Gazoz is the vintage Israeli soda drink concept where fresh fruits, pickled fruits and herbs are combined with sparkling water for the ultimate refresher.

There is no menu at Café Levinsky and no set flavors. Rather, the staff will simply brew something up for you on the spot. And if you attempt to make some kind of flavor request, don’t be surprised if you get a Tel Avivi kind of answer (‘every creation is unique‘).

Local tip: Café Levinsky offer unlimited refills on gazoz. If you are taking some time to explore Levinsky Market, make sure to pick up your gazoz first!

Dessert

Casatta

Eyal Shani’s newest ice cream store is the current ‘it’ spot for gelato in Tel Aviv. I was a little shocked walking in to this smooth, refined gelateria. The vibes are more London or Milan and less Florentin, but as with everything around here, even the ice cream stores are getting fancier.

Casatta has over 20 flavors on offer, but keep an eye open for unique flavors like lavender and marshmellow (my favorite).


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