Shopping for food need not be a chore. It could be a form of entertainment and a way to connect with your food and those who sell it. Roaming the HaTikva market is pleasant and fun. The stalls are placed on the sides of a wide street, there is easy access to the produce and both sellers and shoppers are relaxed and chatty.
Prices at the HaTikva Market are surprisingly low compared to the famous Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv and the exquisite Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, so bring a large shopping bag or load the goods right onto your bicycle. After all there’s space for it here. The best time to visit is Friday afternoon when the prices hit the floor and the market is less crowded.
And most importantly, at this market, unlike at many others, you get to spot the real diversity of Tel Aviv.
You should never shop on an empty stomach. Upon entering, take a seat at HaSaluf, a popular Yemenite restaurant that’s always bustling with customers and loud Mizrahi music. Order a saluf, a Yemenite laffah-like baked pita, a lachuch, a spongy pita cooked in a frying pan like a pancake, or a jachnun, a rolled buttery pastry served with fresh tomato sauce. They will come with a freshly-made hummus, tahini and a variety of salads, which will provide an energy boost for your upcoming shopping experience.
‘We’ve been here for 14 years,’ boasts Yaakov Tsuberi, the owner. When asked how the market has changed in the last two decades, Tsuberi lights up: ‘You can’t imagine the transformation. It used to be a rather sad place and now it’s full of joy.’ Tsuberi is flattered at the suggestion that his restaurant is the reason why. ‘People definitely come here from all over Tel Aviv and even Israel. Some of our regulars travel quite far to get here. So yes, it’s possible that we contribute to the happy mood.’
If you’re not into buttery Yemenite pastry, you can load up on some extra fresh fruit as you choose which ones to take home. The whole thing is just a gimmick, of course, because you rarely walk away from a seller after a tasting. However, tasting helps you connect with the sellers as well as with the food you buy. It makes you feel more like a forager even if you are still at a city market. Do it for the experience and at this market, you have both the time and space.
If you still feel the need to indulge, you can find some sweet deep-fried pastry made by a Russian-American and a Georgian immigrant who have just opened their stall.
Buying this pastry is a great excuse to get to know this pair and their family histories. Val, who was a Russian, German and French teacher in the US, has recently returned to Israel with his two sons and is now learning how to make deep-fried Georgian pastry from his friend.
Just as diverse as the HaTikva Quarter is, the HaTikva Market offers a glimpse into various Israeli and migrant cultures. Strike a conversation with an Ethiopian-Israeli mom shopping with a baby peeking over her shoulder or engage in a discussion about bread with a bukharian baker.
Kian came to the market as a part of his Friday Tel Aviv routine. While Kian is from Beit Jann, a Druze village on Mt. Meron, in northern Israel near the lake Tiberias, he regularly visits his brother who lives in the neighborhood, and he never misses a chance to stroll through the HaTikva market showing off his dog, whose name is Sheleg, which in Hebrew means ‘snow’.
HaTikva Market offers shoppers a glimpse into the very core of Israeli culture and diversity. The market will indulge both people watchers and foodies, who get to experience a personal connection with their food through interaction with the people in the market. Being the highlight of the HaTikva Quarter, this market should be on a list of top places to visit.
HaTikva Market, HaHagana St., Tel Aviv, Israel, +972-36879052