The morning eating rituals of most Israelis are nothing less than a cultural phenomenon, where a sit-down breakfast or brunch characterises the lifestyle of the country. In Tel Aviv, the metropolitan heart of the nation, a bounty of acclaimed breakfast and brunch spots deliver enticing Middle Eastern fare and the finest spreads to start the day off right.
Whether it’s an Israeli breakfast buffet, dining à la carte or feasting on sharing plates, breakfasts in Tel Aviv forge a connection between freshly prepared, delicious food and a social dining experience. On any given day, and especially on weekends, the streets are overflowing with locals gathering at cafés and restaurants to indulge in plates of decadent cheeses, freshly baked breads, finely chopped Israeli salad and bowls of tahini, date syrup and homemade jams, washed down with a ‘café hafuch’ – Israel’s answer to the traditional latte. Here are Culture Trip’s top rated breakfast and brunch spots in the city.
Cafe, Israeli, $$$
For the chilled-out bruncher, the Casbah brings a hip New York vibe to the ever-so-cool Florentin district, with a shabby-chic interior that is typical of this neighbourhood. The ‘Just Woke Up’ menu contains all the Middle Eastern classics, including a vegetarian or vegan Israeli ‘good morning breakfast’, shakshuka with eggs and tofu malawah, a Yemenite bread, and even a ‘Glasgow brunch’ fry-up with all the trimmings.
This farm-to-table establishment was originally located on a family-run farm outside the city, but relocated to the picturesque Neve Tzedek neighbourhood in 2002. Breakfast is served in the indoor dining space, the central patio and the breezy outdoor garden terrace, and its organic menu includes appetising vegetarian and vegan dishes inspired by seasonal produce. The morning menu features showstoppers, including the hummus, onion and green omelette, muffins and homemade spreads, and bourekas stuffed with vegan, nut-based cheeses and spinach. For breakfast on the go, pop into the adjoining delicatessen for freshly cooked take-away dishes, organic groceries, baked treats and vegan shakes.
Bucke serves up generous portions of health-focused dishes | Courtesy of Bucke
This casual neighbourhood eatery, named after the owner’s grandfather Baruch Bucke, is a two-part chain with restaurants on Ahad Ha’am Street and in the Old North. Quintessentially Tel Aviv, Bucke has a loyal following of locals who regularly converge upon the hodgepodge of furniture, quirky interiors and old school tunes. The health-focused menu brims with generously sized dishes, including the original “Bucke tray” piled high with dollops of hummus, labane, roasted vegetables and tuna salad. The gooey, fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies are also deserving of a special mention.
Start the morning right with a feast fit for a king at French bakery Bread & Co. on Ben Yehuda Street. The café’s upscale interior is designed to display its speciality breads and freshly prepared pastries, while the outside seating is a great spot for watching the hustle and bustle of the street. The breakfast menu (which is served until 5pm) includes omelettes of all varieties, hearty salads, mounds of seasoned spreads, challah bread bowls and glorious bread baskets stuffed to the brim.
Cafe, Hotel Restaurant, Middle Eastern, Continental, European, Israeli, $$$
Located in Hotel 65, which opened in 2016 on Rothschild Boulevard, Café 65 is a meticulously designed oasis that offers a buffet menu created by famed chefs Lotan Haik and Orel Kimhi. Alongside a colourful and rich Middle Eastern-infused spread, which includes tabbouleh, sabich (pita stuffed with eggplant and boiled eggs), sweet confections of halva in many flavours and freshly squeezed juices, a made-to-order à la carte menu lists gouda croissant toast with almond butter, green shakshuka and brioche French toast.
Tony and Esther is a gathering place for the area’s hipster residents | Courtesy of Tony and Esther
Buried within Levinsky Market is a café that embodies the authenticity and spirit of south Tel Aviv. A hangout for the area’s hipster residents, Tony & Esther draws crowds to its labyrinth of outdoor tables every day of the week. At the weekend, arrive early to secure a table and choose from a menu of breakfast plates that include eggs on challah with basil mayo and fresh vegetables. Small plates of cauliflower ajo blanco, lima beans and tahini with green zhug are a sublime Middle Eastern accompaniment, alongside a choice of refreshing cocktails.
With a chain of kosher bakeries located across Tel Aviv, Lehamim is a haven for bread and pastry lovers. Baked fresh on-site every day, the irresistible piles of warm fragrant loaves, heavenly pastries, desserts of every kind and superlative coffees have captured the taste buds of the city’s residents. The weekend is even sweeter here, as every Friday brunch is served from morning until 2pm at the Hashmonaim Street branch. The bakery is closed on Saturdays, however. For brunch, try the eggs made any style, a spread of aromatic cheeses, salty smoked fish, freshly chopped green salad and a medley of side dishes, including olives, roasted peppers and eggplant salad with slices of oven-fresh bread.
A much adored vegan haunt in the buzzing Dizengoff area, Anastasia is the go-to for your plant-based morning fix. Featuring indoor and outdoor terrace seating, the casual café is a welcoming spot to dine on breakfasts of hummus and corn omelette, tofu scrambled ‘eggs’, shakshuka with polenta, and a repertoire of special health drinks, including a golden latte with almond milk and turmeric, and a catalog of superfood-infused shakes and smoothie bowls.