Stuck somewhere between European ideals, Middle Eastern warmth and character and its undying fascination of American culture, Israel is one of the best places in the world for going out and having a good time. The wild Tel Aviv nightlife scene has earned itself the reputation of city that never sleeps, running 24 hours a day, but Haifa has a surprisingly diverse and rich nightlife scene of its own that continues on into the late night hours in the busy city centers. Here is our pick for this Mediterranean port city’s most sought after bars, pubs, and live music joints – from the trendy to the classy to the purely classic “Haifa”.
The best of Haifa nightlife: bars, pubs, grub and live music
Step into this award winning weekend speakeasy named after the local wineries found in every Italian village, and you will instantly feel an inherent European-style charm. Opened by two sommeliers, Idan Yehuda of Savoir.co.il, and Eyal Mansour, Cantina Sociale is as much of a learning experience as it is a relaxing getaway. Although it may not be for everyone, this could be your place if you have a deep appreciation for world class wines and carefully prepared little bites that will tease your palate. Wines are paired for you by your gracious hosts, whose passion for what they do flows as freely as the tastes of fine wines, port and other liquors. Not only a must for visiting foodies and wine connoisseurs, but an experience for anyone who wants a special treat, but can’t front the flight ticket to Paris or Rome.
For those who crave an upscale twist on Israeli comfort food, and an exceptionally rich wine and spirits list to match, Sasson Bar is the place to spend your evening. This urban bar with a homey, yet elegant, atmosphere has endless options of good food and drink, and is perfect for a special outing in the upper city. Try their calamari – served seared and not fried, with a dollop of crème fresh and baby greens (a definite winner), or their shrimp risotto flavored with yellow turmeric to remind you how good Israeli fusion cuisine can be. If the wall of whiskey or tempting wine cellar options are not your thing, try one of their craft cocktails, which err on the side of light and refreshing, made with high-quality liquors and delicate garnishes.
After dark pub, with its 24 beers on tap and wide menu featuring house smoked meats, fish and other specials, is your landing pad for catching up with a good friend or on your beer education. Owner Natai Tolochinsky not only loves his beer, but appreciates the unique subtleties found in the different varieties and boutique brews that he keeps in the pub. Try out the rotating specials, or let Natai and his son, Nadav, guide you through the best of their collection of tap beers, which are kept meticulously at the optimal temperature in their refrigerated beer storage room. Work your way through the menu one beer at a time, or enjoy a sampler of 3 or 5 different drafts in one go.
Experience Haifa’s first brewpub, in their expansive new Port Street location, and fall in love with the cool modern-industrial atmosphere, as you sip on their 5 varieties of thoughtfully brewed unfiltered craft beers. A passion project of former engineer Leonid Lipkin, and his beer brewing partners and friends, it is a place where you’ll want to cozy-in and spend your evening with an ice cold pint and a satisfying burger. Watch for the monthly guest beer options (some more controversial than others), and inventive rotating menu from in-house chef Roy Avraham.
Come to Douglas J for the spectacular nighttime view of Haifa bay, and stay for the uniquely themed signature cocktails that commemorate the '27 club' – the famous rockers who met their demise at the aforementioned age. They’re all there in spirit – from Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin, to Kurt Kobain and Amy Winehouse, each with a refreshing alcoholic tribute. Munch on the innovative pub food such as the rich polenta fries, served elegantly with fresh local herbs and a coating of parmesan cheese, or burger sliders, served on a choux pastry bun and soaked in the thumping house music and the twinkling city lights below.