If you’re looking for a night out on the town or just a place to drown your sorrows, chances are Tel Aviv has the bar for you. With everything from local joints for in-the-know residents to cavernous dance venues for the young and hip, central Tel Aviv is not lacking in options. Here are nine of the best drinking dens in the city.
The Minzar – or The Monastery – is Tel Aviv’s most local of local bars. Legend has it this pub never really closes and serves its regulars even during Yom Kippur, when everything in Israel grinds to a halt and all shops shut their doors. Located in a small side street off Allenby, The Minzar is almost invisible to the untrained eye, but don’t let its shabby look fool you – only the freshest ales are on offer here. During the evenings and weekends, it rustles up the best bar food in Tel Aviv, putting many fancy restaurants to shame. There’s even a great malabi store next door, which can deliver the creamy, milk-based dessert directly to your table.
Locals and tourists rub shoulders at the Norman Bar, Tel Aviv | Courtesy of Norman Bar
Not far away, in a small alley on the border of the Yemenite Quarter, lies the towering Norman Bar. Located next to a small hotel, this much-loved joint offers a selection of fine Belgian beers. Small and stylish, it’s also great for a one-on-one. Being so close to the beach, the Carmel Market (Shuk HaCarmel) and the super-trendy Yemenites Quarter, this drinking den is the perfect spot to end your day trip – or start your night out.
Dimly lit and popular with the young, hip crowd, the Salon Berlin might seem too cool for school at first, but it’s actually one of the city’s most solid no-frills bar. Don’t let the fact it doubles up as a vintage clothing store throw you off; you don’t have to be in skin-tight jeans to pull up a stool here. Open relatively early for Tel Aviv pubs, Salon Berlin is a good venue for an early drink, and you can actually find some decent clothing there – at least after a few tipples.
Where your cool uncle takes you for your first beer, Geula Bar caters to hardcore locals and sun-baked surfers – it’s the ideal place to unwind after braving Tel Aviv’s beaches. Come in early or come in late, you’ll never find yourself alone at this bar; a spot that’s somehow both a legitimate place to take a date and to drink yourself to sleep. It’s one of those haunts that even though no one knows your name as you walk in; after a few beverages, you’ll be thick as thieves.
The now-Rococo has passed through so many hands and had so many names, it’s hard to keep up. But through all its metamorphoses, one thing has remained the same: this small, one-room balcony bar is always packed with young hipsters among strangers looking for the root of all the ruckus. Just across from the Great Synagogue complex, the Rococo offers a gritty urban respite to the stylish White City. If you brave your way through the small hallway and manage to make it to the bar, just order an arak on ice like the Israelis do.
With big benches, tall glasses and some serious deep-frying, this buzzy haunt is the perfect place to head with a group of friends. With high-rises and fancy shops springing up around it, the Shoftim is one of the few real bars left in Tel Aviv’s classic centre. It is a remnant of a younger and less tony Tel Aviv, where young people could go down to their local in flip-flops for a quick Goldstar beer and a BLT.
Though called a café, it functions more like what the British call a pub: beers and snacks for the neighbourhood crowd. Perched on King George Street, this seemingly unremarkable joint is among the oldest on this list and has a seriously dedicated following. Home to poets and musicians as much as scruffy locals, the Post Café is a great place to rest your feet after braving the busy retail street, or just to hide from its never-ending stream of buses and shoppers.
Relatively new, the Sputnik Bar is part of a new wave of places expanding where ‘central Tel Aviv’ allegedly ends and the so-called ‘South’ starts. Sitting at the end of Allenby Street, the Sputnik is a winding maze of campy art, which starts in a large open garden and ends in a cavernous club. Lounge outside on the wooden terraces and enjoy some tasty eats washed down with a cocktail or head inside to dance the night away.
Across the way from the Abraham Hostel and along the route of Tel Aviv’s soon-to-be light rail train, Beit Ariela is an excellent new bar only on the radar of in-the-know locals. Spearheaded by the former owner of one of Tel Aviv’s first lesbian bars – the Minerva – and the Jewish Princess bar, Beit Ariela brings The Minzar’s common-sense attitude to South Tel Aviv and offers the perfect mix of vibes, booze and music.