Budget options are surprisingly easy to find in Tel Aviv, a comparatively expensive city. Here are the best places to try some delicious and affordable cheap eats that offer a real taste of the area.
In 2019, Tel Aviv was voted as one of the top 10 most expensive cities to live in. In a region revered for fantastic street food, local vendors and hole-in-the-walls serve up simply made favourites like hummus, falafel and shakshuka, so finding something delicious to eat at a cheap restaurant won’t be too hard a task. If you’re a budget traveller, it’s also worth checking out our guide to visiting Tel Aviv on a budget and the best street-food joints.
Cafe, Hole in the Wall, Israeli, Fast Food
Flavour trumps presentation at this hole in the wall that sits on the edge of Florentin, Tel Aviv’s bohemian quarter. As is customary for authentic hummus vendors, Hummus Ve’shut offers free refills of hummus and pita. Everything here is made fresh on-site, and each of the small tables inside is set with a plate of spicy sauce, pickles and raw onion petals (the onion is used to scoop up the hummus). The best option is its “business deal”, which offers an assortment of hummus, fried potatoes, falafel, Israeli salad and a glass of home-made lemonade, all for 36 shekels (£8). Hummus Ve’shut has a laid-back atmosphere and is open until late at night.
Tony and Esther is a gathering place for the area’s hipster residents | Courtesy of Tony and Esther
Tony ve Esther’s tables, chairs and potted plants are sprawled across a small street between the two buildings out of which it operates; one functions as a bar, the other as a kitchen. Highly affordable, this restaurant is packed during weekend brunch hours, and patrons are more likely to find a seat during the week. As the restaurant is cut off from the busy main roads, many people sit here with their dogs to take in the bohemian atmosphere. Tony ve Esther makes delicious shakshuka and fresh salads, schnitzels and curries. Most dishes cost under 50 shekels (£11). If you need something to wash the food down after your meal, be sure to check out our guide to the best bars in Tel Aviv.
This strictly vegetarian restaurant is spread across two floors, complete with an open-air rooftop terrace perfect for summer dining. With traditional music from southern India playing in the background, 24 Rupee recreates life in Goa. Patrons are required to remove their shoes on arrival and seat themselves on a cushion surrounding the low tables. The use of cutlery is optional. The thali comes highly recommended and includes rice, yoghurt, dhal, vegetables and chapatti (thin Indian bread). The crispy fried samosas served with a tamarind sauce and raita are also delicious. In order to really get your fill, budget between 50 and 60 shekels (£11-13). Note that the venue operates a trust system whereby diners relay their order when paying the bill.
HaKosem is one of the best places in Tel Aviv to try the quintessential Israeli street-food classics: hummus, shawarma, falafel and sabich. Arik Rosenthal opened the restaurant in 2001 and has made it his quest to perfect the national favourites. While the seemingly never-ending queue moves surprisingly quickly, every so often free falafel bites are offered to those waiting in line. Once inside, HaKosem favours speed and efficiency, so it’s best to know what you want before getting to the counter. Its home-made pomegranate lemonade is a perfect accompaniment to any of the dishes. Sit outside and people-watch on busy King George Street, and budget about 50 shekels (£11).
Located on Levontin Street in the heart of the city, Taqueria serves Mexican cuisine well. Inside, the large open space is covered in concert posters and images of lucha libre wrestlers and the Virgin Mary. Taqueria serves lunch, dinner and drinks and always draws a big crowd in the evenings – note that the restaurant only takes reservations on Friday from 6pm. Try its burritos, which cost about 40 shekels (£9) each, or its home-made corn tacos and fresh salsas. On a hot summer’s night, there’s nothing better than sitting at one of the outside tables while sipping on a refreshing margarita and watching passers-by.
Casino San Remo lies on Nehama Street in the historic neighbourhood of Jaffa. It sits on the edge of a beautiful square decorated with stone tiles and a water fountain in the centre. The restaurant is open every day from morning to late at night and offers a variety of dishes, including fish and chips, vegan burgers, Mediterranean-style salads, pastries and cheesecake, and reasonably priced cocktails. Casino San Remo also hosts private events, so make a reservation to avoid disappointment. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Located in the Yemeni Quarter or Kerem HaTeimanim, Erez recreates authentic and traditional Yemeni cuisine with spices like cardamom, turmeric and caraway. The Yemeni potato and chicken soup is a must-try. Alternatively, Erez offers a lunch special for 33 shekels (£7) that includes two kebab skewers and any three side dishes. Make sure to put your name on the list, especially on Fridays when the restaurant is exceptionally busy, and sit outside on the narrow cobblestone street to enjoy the sights and sounds of the adjacent Carmel Market.