Category Archives: middle eastern

Who Doesn’t Love Fried Eggplant in a Pita- Top 5 Sabich in Tel Aviv

In Israel, when people think of street food, the first things that come in mind are falafel, shawarma and hummus. One of the more affordable and tastier dishes you are forgetting about is Sabich. Throughout Tel Aviv, there are many places that offer Sabich. This dish consists of fried eggplant, an egg, and amba with hummus and tahina. Here are our top 5 Sabich locations in Tel Aviv for under 20 NIS.

Sabich Tchernichovsky

This hole-in-the-wall Sabich restaurant makes a delicious sabich that you will keep you coming back for. Despite the long lines, the staff takes their time creating each and every Sabich sandwich (18 NIS).  Each ingredient is prepared cleverly in the fresh and tasty pita, providing the ideal blend of flavors in every bite.  The delicious eggplant is thin and crispy, providing an appetizing kick with its exceptional and unidentifiable seasoning.  It mixes well with the soft and creaminess of the boiled egg and pickled flavored sauce known as “amba”.  Sabich Tchernichovsky also includes red cabbage, a astonishingly crunchy addition to the stuffed pita. On the wall behind the staff, a sign that reads in Hebrew, “No sale of sabich without eggplant”, showing how serious they are about their Sabich with a taste of their Israeli humor.

2 Tchernichovsky Street

Hakosem

Truth, the falafel here is great, as is the shakshouka and shawarma, but note the best dish at Hakosem is the Sabich (18 NIS). It starts with a pita baked on site, warm and fresh, full of strongly flavored tahini equipped with lemon and excellent hummus (also prepared on site). From there the eggplant steals the show: lovely thick slices, floured and fried, giving the portion an addictive crunch and flavor. The boiled potato comes as a salad with parsley, olive oil and black pepper. For the egg they use a special knife that spreads and distributes it to all parts of the pita. Is it any wonder that the result is no less than excellent?

1 Shlomo Hamelech Street,

Sabich Deluxe

From the Tel Aviv culinary scene, this was a very controversial Sabich. First of all, the key word here is cumin and other seasonings. Some people will be less indulged by the seasoning, but Tel Aviv locals love it. Without a doubt this is one of the more unique and tasty Sabich sandwiches I have encountered in Tel Aviv. This is all thanks to the delicious fresh pita, which did a brilliant job of soaking up all the sauce and the eggplant slices provided a perfect crispy but not oily taste.

1 Mikveh Israel Street

Sabich Frishman

Rather than deep fried chickpeas, Sabich Frishman fills your pita with eggplant, egg, and potato. In addition to this are the familiar accompaniments of hummus, tehina, tomato, parsley, cucumber, purple cabbage and onion, which are all loaded on generously. The mango based, spicy, and rich in flavor sauce called amba makes this dish a game changer. The combination of egg and hummus is a very interesting and creates a satisfying interplay of flavors that will leave your taste buds yearning for another bite. Be sure to stock up at the salad bar with portions of pickled cabbage, peppers and carrots. It also should be noted that the sharp flavor of vinegar contrasts and enhances the flavors in the Sabich.

42 Frishman Street

Sabich Hasharon

If this name sounds familiar to you, you have apparently seen it on the streets of Hod Hasharon or Ramat Gan. The secret of the Sabich here lies in two factors:  First, the fresh handmade pita; and then the heavenly fried eggplant. The slices of eggplant are doused in the fryer till they rich a golden crispness which provides a crunchy but smooth taste in the pita. Alongside the eggplant is a small fried potato, hummus, brown egg, salad, onion and parsley. I noticed right away that cumin was missing in the Sabich which was a bit shocking. This Sabich is for the extraordinary eggplant enthusiasts who want to go the distance.

68 Nahalat Binyamin

Saluf and Sons- A Nostalgic Yemenite Experience in the White City

One of the special and unique experiences that Tel Aviv and Israel provides are the varied cultures. In Israel you can find Jews from Morocco, Russia, Ethiopia, Belgium, the United States, pretty much from every corner of the Jewish world. One of the oldest Jewish communities is the Yemenite community. If you want to enjoy delicious and affordable Yemenite food, music and culture, Saluf and Sons creates an exciting Yemenite culinary experience.

Located on Nahalat Binyamin street, Saluf and Sons is located at the halfway point between the Carmel shuk and the trendy Florentine neighborhood. While there is many other home cooking “style” restaurants in the area, Saluf and Sons kitchen offers unique and delicious entrees that are the perfect mix of fresh and spice.

The Yemenite meat soup is the most expensive dish on the menu, costing 35 NIS. This delicious dish comes with rice and a secret sauce made on location. Their most famous dish is jachnun, which is served with tomato sauce and a spicy hard boiled egg costing a 21 NIS. Another very popular dish is the malawah, offered in two different styles. The Yemenite, which is served with fresh tahini, tomato sauce and a hard boiled egg, and the Eastern style which is accompanied with delicious hummus, tomato sauce and spicy pickles. Each Malawah dish costs only 21 NIS.

Other dishes include the Yemenite kubah, spicy soups, couscous and rice based dishes. The majority of dishes are available either with meat or vegetarian. For those who can’t make it for lunch, they offer a happy hour special where all the dishes are half price.

For those looking to have a drink with their meal, they offer three different sizes of  Goldstar draft beers; a small beer costs 11 NIS, a half-liter is and 25 NIS and a liter is 52 NIS. Don’t be shocked while indulging in these delicious Yemenite dishes to receive free arak shots.

While most of Tel Aviv’s culinary scene is increasing in prices, Saluf and Sons reminds you that sometimes it’s best to go back to your roots.

NOT KOSHER

Address: Nahalat Binyamin St 80

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11AM-11PM, Friday 11AM-PM

To Ha’Malabia, With Love

I heard about Ha’Malabia from a friend, who mentioned that there was a place a stones throw from my front door that served only beer and rosewater pudding desserts.  Cool concept, I thought, but I think I’ll pass, I hate it when my food tastes like soap.  Rosewater, which is made from distilling and pressing fresh rose petals, just isn’t my thing. For once, I wasn’t too sad that there was another place without an option for me.  But then my boyfriend came back one afternoon, having accompanied aforementioned friend to said beer and desserts place, and uttered the words “I think you could eat it!”

Game changing words.  Who cares if it tastes like soap?  I’ve got to at least try.

The first bite, my eyes lit up, and I giggled. Giggled. (My boyfriend raised an eyebrow at me, ‘That good, eh?’).  But after my second bite, I resigned myself to gaining ten-pudding-pounds. This stuff is just that good.  Generally speaking, I’m not a gelatinous dessert kind of person.  I hate flan, I’ve never eaten a Creme Brule that I liked, and in my eyes, Jello is a perfect vessel for alcohol and nothing else.  But there was something about this cup of heaven that worked for me.

Before I go much further, I suppose I should pause here explain what a Malabi actually is.  Traditionally, Malabi is a milk based pudding flavored or topped with rosewater, although the other accoutrement vary by location.  Malabi is an extremely popular dish across the Middle East, and in Israel, it’s common to see it as a street food or in upscale restaurants alike.  The Malabi base consists of sugar, milk, and cornstarch, though of course different spices and extracts can be used on top of that.  The traditional recipe calls for rice flour instead of cornstarch, but nowadays the corn starch is said to yeild a smoother texture (Ha Malabia uses corn starch).

This wasn’t going to be my first Malabi – somewhere along the way during our Birthright trip, someone identified the white and pink jello desserts as containg rosewater – but all my previous experiences with Malabi had ranged from “Super Soapy” to “Reminiscent of Soap,” so I went into this experience expecting to come out with a rosey fresh mouth.

Boy, were my preconceptions wrong.

Ha’Malabia is a little place off of Allenby near the entrance to the Shuk, but it’s in a bit of a hard to describe location since it’s on a “side street” that you don’t drive on.  It’s a small, nondescript building with a glassed in front and a long picnic table outside.  The best way to find it is to look for the two nearly identical businesses that are completely packed (If you know the bar Minzar, it’s next door) just off Allenby north of the entrance to the Shuk.  Glance at the picnic table.  Are there any plates on it?  Nope, only glasses?  Then you’re in the right place. Once you’ve found it, head inside and press through the throng of locals to find your way to the front.

Now you have a few choices to make! First up – Vegan (made with Soy milk and Coconut Cream), or Regular? I chose regular, although I would have loved to try the vegan too (I hear it’s great), but I’m also allergic to Soy.  I know, I know, enough about my long list of allergies already, so let’s dive into your second choice (and this is the hardest one!) – Which syrup?  Ha Malabia offers four different flavors: Original (Pomegranate and Rosemary – he told me Rosemary, but I wondered if he meant that or Rosewater…), Vanilla and Cinnamon, Lemon and Cardamom, or Caramel.

Yeah, just sit on that decision for a second.  I know it’s a tough one.

I chose Cinnamon and Vanilla for my first Malabi, since that’s what our friend had recommended. (Uh, I was not disappointed).  But then came the harder choice for me – rosewater?  At first I said no, but then I doubled back.  “Do I really need it?” I asked the clerk, who told me yes, so I consented to “Just a little, then.”

And finally, the end was in sight and it was time for my last choice – the toppings!  This was an easy choice for me as I was allergic to 3 out of the 4, but I love coconut so I was very happy to have it.  The other things they offer are peanuts, carmelized peanuts, and “Ido’s Mom’s Cookies,” (obviously not Gluten Free!). So with my Malabi in one hand and the tiny coffee that comes with it in the other, we now get to travel back to that moment where I took my first bite.

So. Good.

Slightly thicker than a straight pudding, but not creepily chunky, the base was delicious, aided textually with the toppings. The coconut was a perfect paring, and I can only imagine that nuts would add another layer to the texture. The “just a little” bit of rosewater was perfect for my tastes – giving it a hint of something unique and  floral in the undertones, but not overpowering the other flavors. Not only is it just plain delicious, but there is something truly different about it. I am always searching for that special something in a dish that takes it above and beyond just a Gluten Free copy of something and launches it into the realm of just plain amazing. For me, this Malabi definitely was in that category.

However, there are three things that scare me about Ha’Malabia:

1) I have 3 more flavors I need to try.

2) It’s less than a 5 minute walk from where I live.

3) It only costs 10 shekels per Malabi.

So I guess that’s one shekel for every pudding-pound I’m going to gain?

Sounds about right.

Run – don’t walk – to Ha’Malabia. You can thank me later.

Ha’Malabia – המלביה – Allenby 60

Hamalabia can also be found in Shuk Hapishpashim and in Shuk Allenby Rothschild

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This blog post was written by a very close friend of the blog, Zoë of Gluten FreeTLV. Zoë lives and works in Tel Aviv. You can find her on instagram eating @glutenfreetlv and exploring @travelswithzoe. In her free time she’ll be on a horse or singing along to musicals.

 

The Top 4 Shawarma Stands in Tel Aviv

Lately shawarma has had a resurgence in interest among the street food community, resulting mainly in a significant improvement in quality and freshness of the meat and salads. As with falafel and hummus, everyone has a preference for the place and style. With each recommendation where to try fresh shawarma, the same questions come up: lamb or turkey? Served in a pita or a lafa or a beget? Add the local favorite flavored fat which is cooked on top of the meat or avoid it? Here are my top 4 shawarma stands in Tel Aviv.

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Hakosem
Hakosem originally opened its doors as a small falafel stand almost 15 years ago. Though they are famous for their falafel and hummus, you must try their shawarma as well.

I recommend you try the lamb shawarma, each serving includes extra crispy brown lamb meat, which provides amazing juicy flavors, thanks to the lamb fat which is dripping on the meat from above. Each shawarma is served in a handmade pita with fresh hummus , green salads , spicy onions, cucumbers , garlic and to top it off, they add their famous falafel balls on top of this tasty delight in a pita

Price: 30 NIS

Address: Shlomo ha-Melekh St

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Shawarma Bino

Almost seven years ago, the owner of famous shakshuka restaurant Dr Shakshuka, decided it was time to spread his creative wings and open a shawarma stand. This had been his dream for close to 40 years and he hasn’t looked. This veal shawarma is possibly the best shawarma in Jaffa and well worth the trek. When people ask which shawarma to order, it’s a no brainer that you go with the veal. This dish includes touches of beef and lamb fat, which makes it more delicate and a fragrance that will not leave you indifferent.  Each shawarma in a pita is served with such excellent quality meat there is no need to indulge in side dishes. They serve the shawarma with a few different spices and vegetables in fresh pita. This dish is so full of flavor and delicious you will never have to think what to order at this establishment again.

Price 28 NIS

Kosher

Address: David Razi’el St 26,

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Torek  Lahmajun
For years people would wait in line at Torek Lahmajun for shawarma. After years of waiting, they got their wish with a more central location next to Dizengoff Center. The lines are more reasonable now and if you have to wait in line don’t worry, it’s worth the wait. While waiting in line, you will see their trademarked three giant skewers of lamb, turkey and chicken.
I recommend you try the lamb shawarma; each lamb shawarma is sliced to perfection with a strong and juicy flavor which are cooked with endless amount of spices that give it the perfect flavor. Add to that a little onion and a little fat of the lamb which cooks on top of each skewer (which provides great flavor) and it is hard to surpass. Each dish is served in a fresh pita with generous amount of meat, tahini, onion and different types of vegetables.

Price 26 NIS

Kosher

Address: Nahalat Binyamin St 77 and King George 51

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Keter Mizrach

Keter Mizrach was established in 1952 based on recipes from their Syrian family recipe, and it is one of the oldest operating restaurants in Tel Aviv. With 64 years of experience, they continue to offer us a delicious kebab , schnitzel and meatballs , and shawarma . While eating at Keter Mizrach you have to try the turkey shawarma. Unlike other shawarma stands in Tel Aviv, you notice they use a special ingredient unlike no other – the use of pistachios in their shawarma skewer. The use of pistachios enhances the meat flavor and the fragrance, also it helps to keep its distinctive tastes as well as it’s juices. The downside of the shawarma is the relatively small size of the pita, but they make up for it with fries and fresh salads, which include something different – a unique onion salad with dill which provides great flavor for the whole shawarma.

Price 30 NIS

Kosher

Address: 115 Ibn Gabirol

House of Hummus and Ful-The Hummus and the Experience

Since the establishment of the state of Israel or even before, the one question that has everyone wondering is “Where is the best hummus in Tel Aviv?” There so many options to choose from, but I have to say, House of Hummus offers one of the most underrated plates of hummus you will find in the white city.

The House of Hummus is not a new addition to the thriving hummus community in Tel Aviv. Located on the busy street of Chashmonaim, which is filled with many outdoor recreation stores and various restaurants, House of Hummus offers a tasty plate of hummus for a quick breakfast or a nice lunch break. The menu includes many non-hummus local dishes such as Malawach, chicken breast schnitzel, and a breakfast omelet. Each dish is served with a small plate of hummus – no matter the order. Equally important: the place is clean, the prices are affordable and the atmosphere is excellent.

Now for the hummus, they offer a delicious plate of Masabacha for only 16 NIS while their best dish is known as “The Triple”. This dish is both attractive and affordable, with a fresh plate of hummus and ful, a generous order of fries, and five falafel balls.  This dish is served with a small bowl of chopped salad, pickle plate, and puffy and tasty bread. The one downside might be the service, despite the waiters repeated explanation that each dish takes time, service was slower them most hummus joints around Tel Aviv. Overall if you don’t mind the slow service but you’re looking for a fresh, tasty plate of hummus which is also kosher, you have come to the right place.

KOSHER

Address: Chashmoanim 119

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8AM-5PM

Hakosem- The Best Falafel in Tel Aviv But Don’t Skip their Hummus

Four of Israel’s best known streets foods are hummus, shawarma, falafel and sabich (fried eggplant). Scattered throughout Tel Aviv are many places that offer you each of these. Hakosem offers some of best Israeli street food you can find in the center of Tel Aviv

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Hakosem is located on Shlomo Hamelech Street, only a half block away from Dizengoff Center. People recommend their famous falafel, but actually they offer many other tasty dishes as well. Besides always having a long line, there are always plenty of places sit down to enjoy their excellent dishes. Whether you are eating  a dish served in a pita or sitting down for relaxing meal, the large helpful staff provides excellent service that  will remind you that this is not just another of the falafel stand, but a significant stopping point for the hungry.

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One of their best dishes that they  offer is their homemade hummus, costing 29NIS. While people in the past have written about their “Best in Tel Aviv Falafel Balls” I recommend paying more attention to their homemade hummus. For those looking for a fresh plate of delicious of hummus, you came to the right place. The hummus is made fresh throughout the day, so it is always hot and fresh. Each plate of hummus is served with a fresh pita (whole wheat option as well), onions and pickles, spicy hot pepper, garlic, and enough lemon sauce to complete the perfect plate of hummus.

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Their newest dish that has been the talk of the local food aficionados is their creation that they call Haborik. Hakosem offers two versions of the dish, sabich (20 NIS) and meat (25 NIS). While their sabich version is a re-engineering of the dish we have all come to love, their meat version is excellent with amazing texture and flavor. The thin dough is served with an egg, potato and parsley, and fresh ground beef with a perfect amount of garlic.

For those looking for different kinds of dishes, I recommend ordering their famous falafel or their lesser known dish called “haraime”. This chicken dish combines a spicy tomato sauce with chunks of grilled chicken just enough to question how have I not seen this anywhere else?

KOSHER

Price: 15-40NIS

Address: Shlomo Hamelch 1

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9:30AM-11PM, Friday 9:30AM-4:30PM

Falafel Dror- the Tastiest Falafel for only 7NIS

Walking the lively streets of Tel Aviv, I always look for the best deals available for the Israeli homegrown street food called “falafel”. Different locations around Tel Aviv offer falafel at low prices. Falafel Dror offers their famous and delicious falafel for only 7NIS.

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Falafel Dror opened their Tel Aviv branch in late 2013 on Nachalat Binyamin street right near Rothschild Street. They originally offered their falafel for 5 NIS, however, in the past year, the price climbed to 7 NIS which has not hurt their business. There are a few places around Tel Aviv that offer for less but they don’t offer the crispy and delicious falafel we have grown accustomed to. This falafel stand is very clean and you rarely have to wait in line, even at the peak lunch hours. In summary, you can feed a group of friends for only 30NIS.

Their falafel is simple: fresh pita with six falafel balls with diced salads, pickles and bottles of amba, hot sauce and tehina to top off on your fresh falafel. No matter when and what time you order, the pita will have at least six falafel balls. These large falafel balls provide the perfect crispy and not too burnt taste that all falafel eaters hope for. For those trying to stay away from bread, they also offer five falafel balls for 4 NIS. Customers should not underestimate the taste and quality, even with the low price. Looking to water down your delicious falafel? They offer soft drinks for 5 NIS or a glass of juice for 3NIS.

KOSHER

Address:Nachalat Binyamin 48

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10AM-7PM

Bourekas Amikam

In the past few years on the trendy street of Ibn Gabirol, some of the best restaurants found in Tel Aviv have opened up. While these new restaurants have captured the excitement of Tel Aviv “foodies”, I tend to stay with what I am familiar with. One of the better local street foods is bourekas. I recommend Bourekas  Amikam.

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Bourekas  Amikam, located on Ibn Gabirol street right on the corner of Kaplan, is one of the oldest bourekas  stands in the area. It’s  original recipe is the best that I’ve found. They opened their doors over 15 years ago and has been blessing the locals with amazing fresh bourekas ever since.

I recommend ordering their tasty spinach with cheese bourekas (NIS 20). All their homemade bourekas are made with spinach and cheese. Each bourekas tends to be crispy, very filling and not too greasy like other bourekas that I’ve sampled in the city. Each bourekas is served with a hardboiled egg, pickle, tahini and the dipping tomato sauce (a must!). I recommend asking for Zatar spices and spreading them all over the bourekas .

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They also offer different bourekas, such as regular cheese, cheese and olives, and potatoes and mushroom. If you’re looking for desserts they offer Turkish style malbi, cheesecake, and chocolate mousse. I recommend ordering their fresh Turkish coffee.

Kosher

Price: 20NIS

Address: Ibn Gabirol 21

Hours: Sunday-Thursday all day, Friday 7AM until two hours before Shabbat, Saturday night til 2AM