Tel Aviv is a crazy city. The beach, the weather, and the night-life make it worth the visit. On top of these attractions, Tel Aviv has a flourishing food scene. While there are fantastic foodie spots throughout the city, the highest concentration is in Florentin, which is the central hub of hipster life. In this food guide to the Florentin district you will find some of the top places you should visit if you are exploring the area and need a bite.
Chayim Vital Street
Come sundown this street is packed. The crowd is due to a few heavy hitters in particular. The best Mexican restaurant and pizza place in Tel Aviv are only a few feet apart. Locals swear by Mezcal for Mexican and Giuseppe for pizza. So be prepared to wait to eat at either place. If you get there and decide the line is too long, fear not, the rest of the street also has excellent eats. Have a drink at Perla or grab a bite at the highly acclaimed Choco lulu instead. If the food and bustle of Vital sound like what you are looking for, check out staying at Florentin House, a hostel and restaurant right near Perla.
Allenby and Rothschild
Much like Vital, this intersection is loaded with options. Benedict serves 24-hour brunch. They offer Middle-Eastern fare, like shakshuka, and dishes from other countries, such as American pancakes. Just around the corner, you will find Kuli Alma. This bar has crazy decor; there are strings of lights and flowers everywhere. It’s both a place to grab a drink and get your art fix. Moreover, Abraham hostel isn’t far. Their lounge is comfy and serves travelers as well as locals. Just be sure to book on their site to get a free drink coupon.
In the 1930’s, Greek-Jewish immigrants shaped the Florentin district into its current form. They opened spice shops and Balkan restaurants on Levinsky street. Thus emerged the neighborhood’s famous market. The modern market reflects its immigrant history. There are still many beloved Balkan stands where you can try bourekas. These pastries have a flaky phyllo outside and can contain any number of tasty, savory fillings. Iranian immigrants left their mark on the market, too. Therefore, if you are looking for something else, there are plenty of other options. Persian spices and dishes are scattered throughout the market too. Check out Levinsky Market’s website for more information.
Many will refer to the Greek immigrants as “founders” of the area. Depending on whom you talk to, however, claiming they “founded” the area will cause problems. A language lesson can help explain why.
TAKEAWAY: Tel Aviv means, essentially, a spring mound. The idea behind the name was that the new city would build on previous of civilization, renewing them. Tel Aviv was, in many parts, built on top of Jaffa, an Arab town.
Dalida is the best edible example of the Arab layer in the Florentin district. Located in the center of the market, Dalida is a meeting of East and West. Offering Arab-Italian-French fare, it’s a unique and exciting blend. If you and your friends want to try a variety of dishes, look into their Moabet option. This choice lets you try pitchers of cocktails, appetizers, and many dishes easily.
This Ethiopian restaurant sits close to Florentin’s boundaries. If you get a chance to check it out, do. One of the newest waves of immigrants to Israel came from Ethiopia, and their influence on the city is palpable. Embrace it! Immigrants shaped the Tel Aviv we see today. This is particularly true of Florentin. To develop your sense of the area via taste, visit this highly rated restaurant; it will offer you a (delicious) new perspective on what Tel Aviv may be.
The Ever-changing Florentin
Florentin is a vibrant area thanks to the diverse and ever-changing population that constitutes it. This is true of the groups that lived there prior, as well. Formed by Greeks, influenced first by Iranian immigrants, and now by young Israelis, Florentin really developed on top of itself many times. When admiring all you see, try to look for some of the city’s “layers” that tourist maps might not readily include in their notes. The layers, like their more apparent counter-parts, will offer you a fantastic lesson in the city’s history. Additionally, they provide a diverse array of options to keep you curious ‒and full‒ all day long. If you’d like to learn more Florentin history, art and culture facts, quiz yourself through this interactive Jerusalem Post article.