3 Israeli Restaurant Concepts That Should Exist Everywhere, But Don’t

Between my food-related internship, my genuine love for food, and the fact that humans require food for nourishment, it’s no surprise that I’ve been dining out.

A lot.

I came to Israel armed with a list of bakeries, a list of restaurants, and a list of recommendations from the person who interned with Delicious Israel last summer.

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One of my favorite activities in the entire world is crossing items off of lists (to the point where I’ll write something down that I’ve already completed just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off), so one of my main tasks this summer has been visiting these restaurants, bakeries, and cafes so that I can cross them off.

The only problem is, there are so many other places that I’m discovering.

And I need to go to all of them.

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So the list is growing and growing, and as I’m crossing one place off I’m adding two more. Hopefully this cycle stops and I can hit most of the places left in the next two weeks before I head home (ummmm, what??).

The main problem is that once I try a place that’s good, I want to go back with my friends and roommates and random strangers so that they can experience it too.

I just want everyone to be happy and full and try new things.

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There are a ton of restaurants I’ve been to in Tel Aviv that are clearly for the Israeli demographic, like those with chicken livers in pita or six kinds of hummus. But there are also places that I imagine would be successful in America, so here are three of those places.

1. The Tasting Room

The Tasting Room is a wine bar located in Sarona, an outdoor shopping area in central Tel Aviv. But this isn’t your average wine bar. You enter the bar by walking down two flights of stairs to a moderately lit basement with rows and rows of varying wine bottles decorating the walls, where you’re handed a piece of plastic that looks like a credit card.

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The area in front of you is littered with high tops and tables for four, as well as a conference area with a plasma screen TV. Ahead of you is a row of silver machines that look like bar-sized refrigerators, but they’re actually wine dispensers. Organized from red to white, Israeli and international, you’ll find forty-some wines for you to try by the taste, half glass, or full glass.

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You slide your card into the dispenser and choose which amount you’d like to try, and the machine dispenses a precisely measured amount of wine into your glass. Rack up a bill each time you try a new wine and at the end you’ll pay for your libations with a real credit card. The workers are extremely helpful in helping you choose wines that will fit your personal taste.

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2. Picnic

Picnic is also located in Sarona, a few hundred meters from The Tasting Room. The first time I heard of this place I immediately made Noah promise to go on a date with me there before we left the country.

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I’ve been hankering for a picnic, and this was the perfect way to fulfill that craving. Picnic is located in Sarona’s “Little Italy,” and the concept is that you order food in the “market” and then rent a picnic basket and red and white checkered blanket and find a shady spot around the corner to lay out and relax.

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You’ll get buzzed when your food is ready and then you can enjoy it on your blanket. The food is typical Italian fare: pastas, pizzas, paninis. In my opinion, it’s more about the experience.

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3. Abraxas North (Tzfon Abraxas)

Ah, Abraxas, Abraxas. This is the one place my boss recommends if you only have one night to stay in Tel Aviv. Controversial Israeli chef Eyal Shani conquers modern Israeli fare at this dining establishment, which is fortunately a five minute walk from my apartment.

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I first went to Abraxas North for lunch with my fellow interns and the Director of Campus Growth at Spoon University, and then went about a week later with my roommates for dinner. The whole vibe of the restaurant is about showing food in its simplest form.

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The tables are covered with brown butcher’s paper and a tomato sits in the center. Plates are rare at this restaurant, as most dishes come out in brown paper bags or on pieces of cardboard. Abraxas North is most well known for its whole head of roasted cauliflower, wrapped in a piece of parchment paper.

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We also tried the lemony garlic green beans, bread salad, burger (Jessica Biel said on Instgram it was the best burger she’s ever had in her life), and, of course, dessert. Expensive, kind of crazy, but totally worth it.

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