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Jan 11, 2009 06:16 PM

Recs for Tel Aviv, pls

Looking for good lunch spots and fish dinners? What are the latest hot spots with great food? Would love to hear. . .

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  1. I'll recommend some places with great food and let you decide on whether they're hot enough.

    Barbounia: This is an inexpensive fixed-price fish restaurant that is extremely popular with the locals of all ages. Since you'll see older couples, families, and groups of friends along with young couples, it probably doesn't rate as "hot." Perhaps the outdoor tables are hotter. That's where we saw most of the young couples eating when we exited the restaurant. (Heat lamps took away the evening chill in December.) The mezze salads that begin the meal are excellent with our favorite being the vinaigrette cole slaw with sesame seeds. You're welcome to get refills on any salad you want, although this really isn't necessary since a reasonable-size mixed salad is served with the fish course. My husband and I each ordered fish -- gray mullet and wolf fish respectively -- that were perfectly cooked. The fish was moist and delicious.

    Note: There are two Barbounia restaurants across the street from one another. Our taxi driver took us to the one he called "the better" of the two. I think it was the older place. I remembered having eaten at this branch when I was last in Tel Aviv dining with a friend who lives in the city.

    Benny the Fisherman (Benny HaDayag) is another well-recommended fixed-price fish restaurant located at the Tel Aviv port, but we didn't a chance to eat there.

    Adora: (226 Ben Yehuda) If you look at the age of the patrons and the fact that essentially everyone working or dining there was wearing black, I think Adora qualifies at "hot." The food is sophisticated and delicious Med-French fusion (e.g. mushroom falfel or eggplant falfel). Not kosher.

    Radio Roscoe: (97 Allenby Street) This restaurant was recommended by our hotel desk clerk as a fun and interesting place for the secular New Year's Eve. This is a wine bar that also offers food. It is located in a courtyard, a location that is somewhat obscure. At first, our taxi driver was reluctant to let us out. The area looked quite devoid of open retail establishments, much less our specific destination. Eventually, he spotted a sign with the restaurant's name and we got out of the taxi. We walked through the door nearest the sign, down a hallway, turned right and, eventually, found the well-patronized place. The food is primarily Italian. Our server recommended the pizzas, but that wasn't at all what my husband and I had in mind for dinner. The food was pleasant enough, but overall, we thought the restaurant was more appropriate for a younger, hipper crowd.

    Suzanna in Neve Tzedek is a great place for lunch. With its wide-ranging menu, it attracts a wide range of ages. There is a lovely outdoor area ringing the structure for warm-weather meals.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Indy 67

      Hey, thanks Indy 67! Funny, I meant "hot" in a strictly foodie / gastronomie sense, having nothing to do with the attractiveness or age of the patrons. Many thanks for your reply.

      1. re: Lemon Tart

        Though I think it is technically in Jaffa, I highly recommend Manta Ray. It's right on the Almah Beach just south of the David International and Dan Panorama hotels. It is not that big so even if you don't have a window seat, the view is very lovely.

        We were in Israel a couple of weeks ago and went to Manta Ray on the advice of our tour guide. It was very good. So good in fact that we returned there for our last meal in Israel on our way to the airport.

        One of the things the restaurant is noted for is their selection of mezes. You are presented with a tray holding 12 different appetizers to pick from. They ranged from traditional Israeli fair (hummus), Israeli with a twist (deconstructed falafel) and modern. Though I could have made a meal out of them alone, I would have missed out on some very delicious fish/seafood entrees.

        We enjoyed some good wine there as well.

        If it matters, Manta Ray is NOT kosher.

        1. re: missybean

          There is a place further to the south of Manta Ray that is absolutely amazing. Can't remember the name - but if you find Manta Ray just go south a bit more and the place is amazing. Also not kosher, but some of the best mezze.

          1. re: missybean

            Hey, thanks Missy! Have written the name in my book

            1. re: Lemon Tart

              Lemon - I hope you enjoy it. We certainly did!

        2. re: Indy 67

          God bless Chowhound. Stumbled onto that Barbounia place just minutes after reading this the other night. Very good place. Great meze plates and a perfectly broiled sea bass. Thanks for the rec.

          1. re: Indy 67

            Second Indy 67's recommendation of Adora; great meal, and high quality for the money. Another place I'd add is Tapeo, which is an excellent Spanish tapas bar. I've eaten a lot of tapas, and this place is quite good. Unless you go early, expect it to be bustling.

          2. I've been to Manta Ray many times, and often it is just fair. If you go, try to make it around sunset so you can enjoy the beautiful beach views.

            One of the newest and best places in Tel Aviv is a fairly hidden restaurant (inside the tennis courts) called Rokach 73, which is also its street address. Their specialty is bouillabaise. Highly recommended.

            Mul Yam, in the old port, is very good, and VERY expensive. Also expensive is Messa. I have never eaten there, but it has a good reputation.

            Let us know where you have been and what you enjoyed.


            4 Replies
            1. re: bcc

              Rokach 73 has been out of business for a long time, I'm afraid.

              The place south of Manta Ray is called Pini be Hazer. Excellent, and great views

              1. re: MarkC

                Rokach 73 is alive and well. I ate there two weeks ago.

                1. re: bcc

                  My mistake then. They must have reopened under new management.

                  1. re: MarkC

                    As far as I understand, Rokach 73 is quite new, but the chef, Eyal Lavi, had another restaurant, Pastis, that closed a few years ago.

                    And I thought of a good lunch place for Lemon Tart: a very good humus restaurant on 40 Pinsker St in Tel Aviv. The name of the place is, I think, Mashawa. Order their special, the Mashawa plate.

            2. Hey, thanks all for the recs. I loved Suzanna, Manta Ray, and Benny's, which was very close to my hotel. Am returning to Israel for a week in Jerusalem in a couple of weeks, and have had a look at the recents strings for rec's there. Thanks, Indy67, for that, too!

              1. hey, there's a restaurant called Yotvata right in downtown Tel Aviv on the beachfront. It's not fancy nor expensive, but the food is fantastic, seeing as how they get all of their dairy products from the Yotvata Kibbutz. I've been there several times and have always been happy.

                I definitely recommend the cheeseplate, where you can get either 3 or 6 cheeses. I have always shared the 6 cheese platter with a bunch of people, and we chose herb cream cheese, labeneh (which was particularly creamy and delicious), Hungarian cheese, among others. Last time I was there, I got one of the best salads I've ever had. It had warm marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers and sunflower seeds piled high on chopped lettuce and cucumber. A hearty amount of shredded goat cheese was on top (it was a not chevre; it was almost the texture of shredded mozzerella, but softer. it basically melted in my mouth, and it had an amazingly tangy flavor). They offered me lemon juice and olive oil to sprinkle on it, and that's really all it needed. It was so incredibly flavorful that I ate the whole thing despite its enormity.