5 reasons why Tel Aviv is a top foodie destination
Because the food is really good (and a few other reasons).
Spend enough time in Tel Aviv (any time at all really) and you're bound to spend a good deal of it discussing your next meal. The coastal Israeli city by the Mediterranean Sea has developed an international reputation as a gourmand's delight, with an estimated 4,500 restaurants to choose from and some of the most creative culinary minds working on the scene today. But those are just a couple of the reasons why Tel Aviv is a top foodie destination. Here are a handful more:
1. It's beloved by foodies worldwide
Hummus and falafel are just the beginning of Tel Aviv's plentiful assortment of vegetarian foods. (Photo: its_al_dente/Shutterstock)
First, influential American food magazine Saveur named it a "Best Culinary Travel Destination" in 2014. Then Business Insider showed the city some love in 2015. Condé Nast Traveler placed it atop its list of the most vegetarian-friendly cities on the planet that same year. If that's not enough, chefs from around the world keep coming to visit and partake in food events, drawn to the city's creative culinary culture.
2. It has a global cuisine
In Tel Aviv you can get pretty much any kind of food you desire. There's plenty of the regional fare that it's become well known for – falafel, shakshouka, hummus – but that's only scratching the surface of what this city has to offer. Have a hankerin' for buffalo wings? They've got those. Miss your New York-style deli sandwiches? Yup, sold there. There are restaurants dedicated to hamburgers, American BBQ, and Mexican food – there's even a New Orleans-inspired bakery. Italian and French bistros aren't hard to find, either. If it's cuisine from the other side of the planet you're after, Tel Aviv has one of the highest concentrations of Japanese restaurants of any city in the world, and with a healthy-sized Chinese population plenty of restaurants have popped up to serve dishes from back home.
3. The ingredients are really good
Embracing the colorful, wonderful world of fruits and vegetables is the first step in becoming passionate about cooking with fresh produce. (Photo: israeltourism/Flickr)
Israeli food is part of healthy Mediterranean diet, in part thanks to the freshness of the ingredients. "The majority of the meats, cheeses, produce and spices are grown, raised, cropped and prepared right here in Israel," chef Moran Yanai of Tel Aviv's Hotel Montefiore restaurant told From The Grapevine. "There really is nothing better than eating farm-to-table ingredients, commonplace in Israel but a 'trend' around the world."
One fan of this freshness is Michelin-starred chef Michel Sarran, who is headed from his home-base in Toulouse, France to Tel Aviv in February to team up with Yanai for a three-day event called "So French, So Good," in which the two will create French dishes with local ingredients.
4. Time is on your side
Israelis dine out at the Taizu restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
This is important as nobody wants to be rushed when eating a meal, your waiter breathing down your neck, hoping to turn the table over a few more times before the night's out. In Tel Aviv that won't be a problem. Restaurants here act as a buffer against the high octane world outside. Waitstaff mostly leave you alone and it's not seen as an imposition to sit down for an early seating and stay until closing.
5. The markets are world class
Shoppers at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, a popular marketplace in Israel. (Photo: ChameleonsEye/Shu)
The Carmel Market is exactly what you would want from a central market. Active and energetic, stalls selling fresh produce, juices and breads mix with those offering raw and cooked meats, cheeses, spices, fresh fish, beer and all manner of different trinkets.
Levinsky Market, south of Carmel Market, is similarly well-stocked and draws a lively crowd of locals and tourists in search of fresh food. And then there's Sarona Market, something of an ode to Tel Aviv's food scene, with a mixture of food stalls and restaurants that has earned it comparisons to New York's Chelsea Market.
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