Eyal Shani was one of the first chefs from Israel to deconstruct the essence and spirit of modern Israeli cuisine. As he carved out a prime spot for it on the global culinary map, Shani’s influence can be felt all over Tel Aviv.
Eyal Shani has opened multiple ventures across town, where everything from seasonal vegetables to the humble pita is elevated to culinary rockstar status.
Eyal Shani’s impact on Tel Aviv’s restaurant scene
Each of Eyal Shani’s restaurants has a different menu, vibe and atmosphere. Miznon is the restaurant that made Shani’s name. It’s casual and chic and pays tribute to the simple Israeli pita, stuffed with endless creative combinations of meats and vegetables.
North Abraxass is an upscale eatery where reservations are a must. Here, Shani’s whole-roasted and slightly charred cauliflower served on a sheet of baking paper (he often eschews plates, serving his beautiful meals on bits of cardboard or straight onto the table) is known throughout the city as the dish to try. ‘Lamb melting into a soft bun’ is another favourite when available. Though the restaurant is all about fine dining (albeit with simple ingredients), there’s a subtle club vibe as waiters pour shots for guests mid-meal to the sound of pumping music. Indeed, many of Shani’s restaurants tread a fine line between restaurant and club – in food-obsessed Tel Aviv, a club offering a full chef’s menu comes as little surprise.
Romano is an ultra-hip restaurant, bar and lounge located in south Tel Aviv, between the Levinsky Market and Jaffa. With great music playing overhead, its ever-changing menu is based on local, seasonal vegetables and seafood.
At Port Said, Shani’s iconic and perennially cool Tel Aviv nightspot near the Great Synagogue, a young and hip crowd explores his take on Israeli classics while listening to an incredible vinyl collection.
Malka is ahead of the curve of a burgeoning trend of kosher chef restaurants in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, HaSalon (open on Wednesdays and Thursdays only) is one of the best places to experience dishes created with local produce.
Shani keeps himself busy running his Israeli eateries, as well as his ever-growing portfolio of restaurants in Paris, Vienna, New York and Melbourne. On the rare occasion that he’s off-duty, however, and like any other great chef, Shani has his own list of favourite places to eat in his hometown.
Le Moulin is a bakery and café that offers a range of pastries. “It’s an authentic and intimate French boutique bakery, where you’ll find the best baguettes Israel has to offer,” he says. Shani always orders the signature sandwich, a baguette with gouda cheese.
Shani tells Culture Trip that Il Pastaio is the first traditional fresh pasta shop in Israel owned by an Italian family. It’s an authentic Italian salumeria, or delicatessen, in Tel Aviv’s centre. “The real secret to this place is to come between noon and 2pm to eat fresh tomato fettuccine,” he says.
The family-owned Falafel Neto is chef Shani’s favourite falafel shop. The Azikri family (a father and two sons) prepare falafel fresh to order, and Shani recommends the classic pita with falafel and lemon-garlic sauce.
“Every Israeli has a favourite hummus joint. Mine is Hummus Hakerem, which is very close to my Romano restaurant,” says Shani. “In my favourite dish, hummus with fava beans, there is everything a man needs to exist.”
Agatha is a high-end, premium-quality deli in the industrial area of Tel Aviv. “In Agatha, you can find your soul’s deepest desires in the form of fine food. You just want everything that Agatha has to offer, but if I had to choose, then the cheese and cold cuts platter is a favourite,” Shani tells Culture Trip.