For most Israelis, lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Being the foodie city that it is, Tel Aviv’s best restaurants strut their stuff during early afternoon hours. Most offer a starter and side for the price of an entree as part of their lunch menu, so whether it’s Asian or Mediterranean you’re craving, lunch is the perfect time to sample the city’s best restaurants at affordable prices.
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
The brunch buffet at Tel Aviv's Mashya | Guy Yechiely, PR, courtesy
The brainchild of chef Yossi Shitrit, Mashya is one of Tel Aviv’s hottest restaurants right now. Its lunch menu offers a rare chance to try a full three-course meal for the price of your entree. Beginning with hot, fresh frena bread — traditional Moroccan bread made in a steel pan and flavored with spices — this restaurant offers a unique interpretation of local tastes. And for half the price it would usually cost you, it’s a shame to let it go to waste.
Perched on a secret street corner on the border of the Yemenite Quarter, 26 Gadera is a simple place in a city rife with themed restaurants and gimmicky pop-up eateries. Small and stylish, Gadera offers a great lunch deal at a beautiful spot. The lunch menu opens with fresh challah bread and dips, progresses to an appetizer from Eastern European Jewish cuisine and ends with any one of the restaurant’s main dishes. All of this will only set you back between 55 and 90 shekels (US$15-25).
Another of the city’s best restaurants, Santa Katarina’s lunch menu offers you a chance to get a table at this super hip eatery, located inside the Great Synagogue’s plaza. With its stone oven tabun burning hot by midday, the Santa (as it’s called by locals) offers amazing Italian pizzas with a local twist. They also have great oxtail pasta, and their basbousa desert will have you coming back for seconds.
With a trendy dining room aesthetic and the best Vietnamese food in Tel Aviv, Hanoi’s lunch menu is as umami as it is value-for-money. The lunch menu includes green tea, an appetizer and entree for the price of the latter. With diverse dishes from across Asia, like Pho soup and butter chicken, it’s well worth a visit for those in search of Asian food. Meals cost between 60 and 76 shekels (US$16.50-21).
A great sushi restaurant with classic Japanese decor, perched directly on Rothschild Boulevard. Though Tel Aviv is full of sushi places, few are worthy of the title. Yakimono, however, is among the best in the city, with super fresh fish at reasonable prices in an expensive city. The lunch deal offers soup and an appetizer as well as tea and any side with your main dish, which runs the gamut of sushi and Japanese grill. All for between 85 and 100 shekels (US$23-27.50).
The lunch deal at Taizu is your best chance to try some of the greatest hits from Tel Aviv’s best (and most expensive) restaurants. With a starter and an entree for the price of the latter, the lunch menu allows you to make the same pit stops along the Asian street food journey that a full Taizu dinner includes. Splurge a little for their Taizu Bites, some of the most inspiring and delicious dumplings and buns in Tel Aviv.
Though located just outside the center’s outer border, in the entrance to the Levinsky Market neighborhood, Saluf and Sons offers one of the best lunches in Tel Aviv, and probably one the most authentic. Working on a solid Yemenite menu, Saluf and Sons is the hipper child of one of the cities most famous no-thrills market eateries – the Saluf at the Hatikva Market, which, though far from the center, has long drawn foodies seeking real Yemenite dishes. If you come after 5pm the entire menu is 50% off, the perfect chance to try some authentic jahnon or kubana.