From the best breakfast bars to afternoon hangouts and RSVP-only kitchens for just twelve guests, opportunities to sample Florentin’s diverse culinary offerings are boundless.
Israelis love to eat – it’s a pastime engaged in around the clock, be it alone, with family or late at night with friends. The culinary scene in Tel Aviv’s art district, Florentin, offers insight into both celebrated traditions and contemporary interpretations, including experimental kitchens, a return to kosher cuisine and an ever-growing selection of vegan and vegetarian options, from haute cuisine to budget-friendly.
Situated across the road from Florentin’s official district line, Romano salutes the authentic lifestyle of its inhabitants. Located in an old industrial building once used for textile production, the first-floor restaurant is headed by none other than magician chef Eyal Shani. Most patrons are here for the atmosphere, but the food does not disappoint. Rustic interiors, outdoor lighting and a mix of Middle Eastern playlists are the backdrop for the dining experience, with tables set along the external corridors facing the open courtyard. Meat, fish and vegetables take centre stage at Romano’s kitchen, a combination of Israeli favourites (like its sister kitchen, Port Sa’id) and Italian classics. Whether or not Romano is located in Florentin is debatable, but the hipster vibe, laid-back attitude and signature Israeli dishes capture its essence without question. Romano is open for dinner only, and reservations are mandatory.
Located on Abarbanel Street, on one of Florentin’s most famous corners, this neighbourhood café has received accolades from discerning locals thanks to a winning combination of creative tasty cuisine, lively ambience and high service standards. Locals frequent Florentina by day because of its affordable lunch menus and generous portions and for the venue’s rustic outdoor space, which draws in groups of friends and family. Italian recipes are the foundation of the kosher kitchen, which is also peppered with Israeli classics as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Favourites include the risotto with mushrooms and chestnuts, the focaccia starter, and ‘Ruth’s pasta’, a cream of beetroot sauce and slices of goat’s cheese. The baked cheesecake is a must-try for dessert.
At the intersection of Herzl Street and Florentin Street, Nina both sets the standard and adheres to discerning local tastes with a foolproof approach to hospitality, service and very good food. While it also functions as a classic working café, Nina is a quotidian hotspot where the celebrated Israeli breakfast is served every day. Nina is especially famous for its tasty couture hamburgers served with fries and a selection of condiments, as well as noteworthy lunches that include vegan burger specials, tender chicken schnitzel, a menu of pita sandwiches and highly curated salads and homemade sauces.
On the corner of a pedestrian enclave in Levinsky Market, this street-food style, rustic pizza bar has formed quite a fan club. No matter the time of day, it’s always full, with people in the queue happily sipping beer as they wait to place their order. Baked in stone ovens and served on trays with olives, pesto and a side of spicy dipping sauces, pizzas are 33cm in diameter and prepared with the freshest ingredients to create tasty and colourful combinations. The vegan and vegetarian pizzas are particular bestsellers, with the cashew cheese and sweet potato topping selling out fast. Favoured side dishes include grilled cabbage and turnip salad with zucchini and gorgonzola, and lettuce salad with toasted almonds, grapes and kashkaval cheese.
The culinary experience in Tel Aviv is incomplete without a serving of hummus. Located on Herzl Street, a road in Florentin famous for its home decor stores, Hasson Hummus serves authentic silky hummus and other Middle Eastern dishes; Friday is the most popular day with crowds of locals who lunch. All-day favourites include lightly seasoned chicken and meat skewers, hummus plates with numerous toppings, including baked egg, minced meat and eggplant, best enjoyed with soft pita bread and chopped Israeli salad. A side order of pickled vegetables adds the colour and palate twist that Middle Eastern food is famous for, complete with homemade lemonade.
A temporary escape from the city rush, this quaint, vegan café in the heart of the neighbourhood is immersed in greenery and fresh flowers, draping from every shelf and corner. Ideal for an easy-going breakfast or afternoon respite, the café prides itself on its freshly brewed coffee with oat or soy milk and homemade soft drinks and snacks, including freshly baked cakes and pastries. Kitchen favourites include the quiche of the day with green salad, creative sandwich combinations with cashew cheese, fresh vegetable salads topped with flower petals, and the Asian salad bowl made with invigorating root vegetables and spicy sauces.
Drop in at Jamaha for an altogether unique culinary experience in Florentin. The brainchild of Omer and Matan, who journeyed across Israel to discover lost aromas and regional produce, Jamaha delivers a high culinary aesthetic that taps into 2,000 years of agriculture, fishing tradition and wine cultivation. In an intimate homey setting, guests can sample their creations, which are beautifully presented and accompanied by ambient music. The menu is seasonal, and special highlights include grilled eggplant spread, grilled scampi in rosé and rosemary sauce, lamb chops and oven-baked fish in Arak liqueur. Don’t miss the ‘knafeh’ dessert. Admission by reservation only.
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