If tidal waves couldn't save the world from Californication, then we're in luck because that west coast flavor has seeped into Tel Aviv's culinary kitchen and peppered its grid with a host of eateries that serve an authentic taste of the Golden State. WhileTel Aviv's beaches and sun combo doesn't stray too far from California's laidback, sand-between-your-toes vibe, it's still nice to be transported once in a while with some delicious grub. From house-made granola bowls with coconut chia seed pudding to matcha tea smoothies and thick cuts of tuna sashimi with a pistachio crust, here are some worthwhile Tel Aviv restaurants boasting some serious Cali flare. Now all you need are a solid pair of sunnies.
What started as a pop-up with an original “Restaurant in Movement” concept, which aimed to break away from the traditional restaurant structure, has now settled in to a spot on Hayarkon Street and shows no signs of moving. On Salva Vida’s breezy terrace, basking in the panoramic views of the Mediterranean sea and indulging in thick cuts of tuna sashimi speckled with pomegranate salsa, you won’t know if you are California dreamin’ or not. The name, inspired by celebrated poet Pablo Neruda’s quote “Si nada nos salva de la muerte, al menos que el amor nos salve de la vida,” which translates to “If nothing saves us from death, may love at least save us from life,” and Chef Yuval Fachler’s love of cooking is clear as day. Serving a mix of West Coast meets Mediterranean coast, the menu is a creative journey using local ingredients and letting the chef’s American roots shine. Having cooked in top kitchens from Napa Valley to Italy’s Adriatic Coast (including the two-star Michelin restaurant “La Madonnina del Pescatore” and Gordon Ramsay’s “Maze”), Fachler brings his artful expertise back home with unexpected twists on delightful staples: from mac & cheese speckled with crab meat to banana bread French toast.
What would happen if a Mexican and a Korean walked into a bar? They’d probably convene at Diego San, where the two, very distinct, foodie cultures harmonize on each plate. From margaritas and tequila to tapas and tacos, Diego San (San Diego spelled backwards, if you didn't already catch it) is the brainchild of Chef HaAchim and the owners of Casino San Remo – so you know you’ve landed in gold. It’s an attack on all your senses: on the outside you’ll see the trendy Levinsky Market, while on the inside you're immersed in cool beats and rubbing shoulders with Tel Aviv socialites. Oh, and don’t forget to taste their Mexican taco munchies, Korean bibimbap, and Pad Thai Popcorn – all are delish.
This organic juice bar and raw food diner literally seems transported straight off of Abbot Kinney Boulevard. For those who don't get to frequent Venice Beach from Tel Aviv often enough for their uber health food cravings, this selective market and fresh food supplier hits all the sweet spots for plant-based diets, vegans, raw foodies and curious folks alike. Enjoy everything from raw soups, desserts and almond hummus to acai granola bowls, wheatgrass shots and veggie sushi.
Walking into Café Xoho, a local gem of a café tucked on a side street in Tel Aviv, you might think, from the funky art, the eclectic chalkboard menu, and the English speakers, that you had stumbled into a neighborhood San Francisco cafe in the Haight. Founded by Xoli Ormut-Durbin, an Israeli olah who was raised in Hong Kong by Canadian parents, Café Xoho began as a bonafide locals’ secret – fit with perfectly roasted coffee beans and international staff who always know your name. Even in café-crazed Tel Aviv, Xoho stands out. Everything, from the piping hot bagels to the buttery chocolate-chip cookies, the umami-bomb bulgur bowl and even the house-cured salmon – are made in-house. The menu includes a range of vegan and gluten-free options. Soy and almond milk are always in stock, and Matcha Green Tea lattes, both cold and hot, are winners. Like the dozens of regulars that make up their loyal clientele, you might find yourself not wanting to leave.
North Tel Aviv’s Santa Rosa showcases Californian cuisine with a plethora of freshly-harvested ingredients, light flavors, colorful presentation and a fusion of styles ranging from classic American to Asian and French. Opt for Californian pizzas with ingredients like prosciutto, peppers and a sunny side up egg, or munch on the ever-popular fish and chips. Start your weekend mornings with the Californian brunch where you can get eggs benedict, huge cobb salads and savory waffles topped with crispy bacon.