Not everyone wants to travel to southern Tel Aviv; it has a rough reputation, perhaps more of an ‘edge’ than the rest of the city. But when you make the journey south to visit the lively and exciting Levinsky Market, you will be rewarded with many treasures, including aromatic spices that ensnare your senses and interesting and fun hipster spots. Here are seven must-visit culinary treasures in the market.
Courtesy of Diego San
Restaurant, Bar, Diner, Market, Food Truck, Asian, Fusion, $$$
Well we’ve all heard of San Diego, but have you ever heard of Diego San? It isn’t located along sandy beaches, like its namesake in California; instead, it’s on a side street of Levinsky Market. With a name like that, you would assume that this restaurant serves Mexican food. You would be right, and at the same time you would be completely wrong. Diego San takes this idea and turns it on its head, creating a new fusion food; Mexican and Asian. Beautifully blending these two unique flavor profiles creates a food combination that will have you running back for more.
Café Levinsky 41 is certainly a hidden gem. Here you can get the usual cafe servings of tea and coffee, but what is really special about this place are the sodas, all of which are made from scratch. You explain what flavor you want — sweet or bitter — and even what kind of fruit you like, and the people at Café Levinsky 41 will take carbonated water, locally grown herbs and greens and homemade fruit syrups and create the perfect concoction for you.
Gela is the place where anyone can satiate a sweet tooth, especially vegans. Gela offers pastries, crêpes, and a stunning variety of ice creams — and all of it is 100% vegan. Normally you hear ‘vegan ice cream,’ and your mind automatically rejects the notion. However, the ice creams at Gela’s are made with fresh ingredients, and that freshness comes through and amazes your palate with fun, vegan friendly, and healthy flavors that change based on the whims of the season.
Yom Tov Deli has everything you’d expect from a deli; cured meats, cheeses, pastas, and smoked salmon, along with some Middle Eastern twists, such as halva and a truly impressive display of olives. The deli is run by brothers Eitan and Yomi, and it was named after their grandfather, who was a Meza Master in Turkey. Their grandfather moved to Tel Aviv and opened Yom Tov Deli with his son. In 2000, the brothers took over and continue the legacy by providing wonderful goods and sandwiches.
Fine dining and five-star restaurants can be exciting, but nothing fulfills a craving like street food. Targon specializes in Israeli street food. Targon is a pita grill which cooks meats over an open-flame charcoal grill, makes salads and sauces, and then compiles all those amazing ingredients onto a light pita for an easy on the go meal.
If you find yourself at Shuk Levinsky after five o’clock, head down one of the intersecting streets and find your way to Dalida. Here the staff will demonstrate hospitality by focusing on the quality of the experience, allowing customers to feel as if they are trusted friends. To match this excellent service is the excellent food, Middle Eastern–based cuisine served mostly tapas style with wonderfully potent drinks to match.
Small Italy is a restaurant that serves wonderful dishes, providing an overall experience that is so authentic it will make you feel like you’re in the heart of Italy. The restaurant occasionally features live music shows.