June 30, 2015

Tel Aviv. My Vegan Paradise.

I fell madly in love with Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is a young city, and loud and just beautiful. We stayed 10 nights in Tel Aviv with day trips to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Delicious food, nice people, sandy beaches and the perfect weather. I decided to write a little to-do list, a list with handy tips and a top restaurant list instead of writing a screed. I am a list type of person. Always I've been, always I will be ;)

Some handy tips if you plan to travel to Israel

x   I am a huge fan of airbnb.com! You can book entire apartments or just a room in an apt. I like it because you feel more like a local when you have your own cozy place. We stayed in an apt near Carmel Market. PERFECT location!

x   Israel is an expensive city. When you don't travel on a badass budget, then book a cheap flight and a cheap apt, hostel or hotel. More money for food and drinks! And the food is amazing! 

x   If you want to rent a car, book it before your trip to Israel. It is much cheaper than renting a car locally. 

x   my lifesaver was the app CityMaps2Go. I downloaded the map of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It helped me a lot because it works offline! You can search for places and you can save personal places in your map. 

Restaurants, Cafes & Bars, Clubs

Cafe XOHO {Gordon 17}

A week before my flight to Tel Aviv I was searching for a place that serves matcha (matcha is my coffee substitute, my green cocaine!) and I found Cafe XOHO on Gordon 17. A beautiful vegetarian cafe with vegan friendly meals. The place is owned by Americans, they are super nice! So if you want a yummie vegan breakfast or lunch, this is your place! 10 Days in Israel and I went there 3 times. Cafe XOHO has a nice outdoor space and inside you just feel like being home. Very comfy and relaxing. And their granola is amazing! Lots of nuts covered in cinnamon, oats, dates, fresh fruits. They usually serve it with yogurt, the vegan friendly granola comes with almond milk. Another time I ate a vegan kale caesar salad. It was ok but something was missing...something that substitutes the Parmesan cheese. Cashew butter or so. Seasonings? It tasted a bit stale. Anyway, the matcha banana shake with halva made it up! Halva is made from tahini and sugar. It tastes delicious. And you have to try the Limobasilicum with fresh basil - so refreshing. Cafe XOHO also serves bagels, burritos and burgers :)

North Abraxas {Lillenblum 40}

Tel Aviv is a vegan paradise. On every menu you find vegan dishes on a regular basis. And this is because the Israeli cuisine is a cuisine composed of lots of veggies, salads, hummus and pita bread. Yes, meat aswell, but very few meat dished, I think. Israeli food is absolutely vegan friendly! I might move there haha :) North Abraxas was the best restaurants we visited. I have to admit, the service is bad, but the food is incredible! You share your food and you eat off the table. Yep, no plates. Cutlery..yeeeah, but not always. I'd say: Balagan. It's a great experience! The dishes are so simple and so good! 


x   Golden aubergine with a tomato tahini sauce
x   Jericho green beans with lots of garlic, lemon and olive oil
x   Bread salad and baked baby cauliflower
x   Sweet potato


Port Said {Har Sinai 5}

When you love good music, go there! This place is always packed, fantastic atmosphere, friendly staff (thanks for the shots), very good food (I've heard), and the prices are ok too. We wanted to go there a second time before we left TLV..unfortunately it was closed Friday night for Shabbat. 

HaBasta {4 HaShomer St}

It's a small restaurant and wine bar near Carmel Market with a bar inside and seatings outside on the pedestrian street. Friendly staff and excellent food. They had a Riesling special that week so we drank Riesling (don't remember if it was from Israel?!) - and it was the best wine we had during our trip. This place is expensive, but the food is really good! Tasty and fresh and vegan friendly of course ;)

picture [sorry for the bad quality]
x   Jerusalem artichoke puree with beans and almonds
x   fatush


Vicky Cristina {1 Koifmann St}

On our first evening in TLV we ate at Vicky Cristina (thanks for the invite to join you, Vivi xo). The restaurant is located in the area of Tel Aviv's old train station called HaTachana. Vicky Cristina is a spanish tapas and wine bar. We were 6 people. As I was the only vegan, I ordered my own food, but the others shared their meals together. The vegan paella was amazing!! I would love to share pictures of the food with you but unfortunately my iphone made horrible pixelated pictures that evening. The staff was very nice. Our waiter treated us to rounds of shots, we drank 4 bottles of wine and had a great time there. The atmosphere is just wow, giant trees, a magical place with good music, a place where I thought "hey this feels like summer". It was expensive (don't go there hungry otherwise you need to order 3 or more dishes per person to feel full) but worth a visit! 

My vegan dinner: 
x   ensalada de tomate without feta cheese
x   paella
x   hongos con remolacha

They always try to give you a vegan friendly alternative and prepare the food with a vegan sauce or just without cheese, eggs etc.  

Itzik Hagadol {3 David Raziel St}

You have to order the salads!!! You'll get a variety of salads (unlimited refill!): tabouleh, salad with chickpeas, celery, carrots, aubergine puree, chili salad, beet root...and warm bread. The bread was one of the best I had in Tel Aviv. Warm, soft and a bit crispy too and just so tasty. 

Abu Hassan {1 HaDolfin St}

They say they serve the best hummus in Israel. When we wanted to go there at 5pm it was closed :( people who were walking by told us that they close once they ran out for the day. So next time we'll definitely go there earlier!!

Frishman Sabich {44 Frishman St}

Sabich is worth a try!! And you get the best Sabich at Frishman Sabich. Fried eggplant, onions, Israeli salad, hard boiled eggs (not in my sabich :)), amba and fresh parsley in a pita bread. YUM! 

What to do?

x   Carmel Market is a must-go. Fresh veggies and fruits (the tomatoes & mangos omg!!), bread, halva, olives, meat and fish, but also clothes and accessories. When you go there after 5pm you can snag very good deals.

x   Drink juices! There are fruit stands all around the city. You can choose the fruits you want and enjoy your delicious juice aaaww paradise! My favorite: watermelon, pineapple & carrot juice. SO GOOD!

x   sun-baking sessions on the beach, of course. I recommend Frishman Beach and Banana Beach. 

& daytrips to

Ein Gedi

Our first destination was the oasis Ein Gedi. Thanks to my instagram friend Ohad Ein Gedi nature reserve was on our route! It is situated on the Dead Sea coast (2 hours from Tel Aviv). If you like hiking and paradisiac places, then this is a must-do! We were hiking up the David stream to smaller waterfalls and the David waterfall. It was very hot and dry...cooling off in one of the smaller waterfalls at 42 degrees Celsius was great! Good thing that we had enough water and sunscreen with us. From here we climbed up to a platform and then to En Gedi Spring.
Look at this breathtaking view from the cliffs:

{ bikini }

Dead Sea

I always wanted to swim - or should I say float? - in the Dead Sea. Unfortunately the Ein Gedi public beach was closed due to a sinkhole. These sinkholes are dangerous and can be deadly. You may not visit any area not designated! We then decides to visit Kalia beach which is located in the West Bank. And you really can't imagine how it feels to float in the Dead Sea if you haven't been there. You just lay back, relax, cover your body in mud. It is awesome and a great experience! Only thing that sucks: you feel every single cut you have... 

 { bikini | towel }

So glad we rented a car and were not dependent on a bus schedule or something. As parking on the streets of Jerusalem is complicated, we parked in the Mamilla parking lot near Jaffa Gate and the Tower of David. The Mamilla Mall is nice, too! But first: the Western Wall is a historical must. I wore a strapless maxi dress and got a dark blue scarf when I entered the Western Wall Plaza. You see people praying, taking photographs, attending a Bar Mitzva. You don't have to be religious to experience this - I am not that religious and I have to say that I was moved by our visit. The energy there is overwhelming.

xox TBB


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