• David

48 Hours in Tel Aviv - A Vegan Dream

Updated: Feb 15, 2020


There are Quick Links to everything in this post at the bottom so you don't need to click on every single picture 😊

As we count down to our big adventure we're grabbing any and every opportunity by the hairys to experience new places! So, when David found out he had to take a trip to Israel with work we jumped at the chance to turn it into a quick weekend away.

Tel Aviv is often called the vegan capital of the world so there was one thing on our minds... food!! We are very lucky here in Brighton to have excellent vegan options for just about everything so, well, we're going to put Tel Aviv to the test.


The Bit Before the Food


Flying good old EasyJet we bought return flights from Luton which were around £180 each, which is pretty decent considering its a 5hr flight.



We stayed at Hotel Cinema, a delightful boutique, former cinema hotel - bang in the middle of the city. The location was perfect and was a mere 28 minute drive from the airport. A colleague of David’s hired a car and parking was free (although appeared limited) at the hotel. Overlooking Dizengoff Square, this beaut of a hotel is set in a Bauhaus-style building with a rooftop terrace offering fantastic views of the city. Unfortunately the weather was awful whilst we were there so we didn’t get to experience it. We were also informed they serve free, afternoon appetisers and drinks in the business lounge between 5-7.30pm on weekdays but again we never took advantage of that! They do however have the most delicious lemonade in the reception area and popcorn which is a great touch.


And Then There Was the Food

Smoothie Bowl & Matcha Latte at Urban Shaman

Goodness


So I lied a little, we actually sneaked in a couple of meals outside of the 48 hours, we arrived on the Friday evening and headed straight out for some dinner. Hayley had spent the week researching and happened to know that Goodness was less than a 10 minutes stroll from our hotel.


The dinner menu is unashamedly vegan junk food, and, well, I aint mad at it. A sobering (both as we weren't drinking and in terms of the terrible food options) 5 hours on EasyJet meant that we were crazy hungry!


All the classics were there to be seen... loaded fries, burgers, dogs, as well as some more local pickings like vegan shawarma wraps and pitas.


I had a vegan shawarma and Hayley had the house burger (one of the neat things about this place is that they offered their own home made burgers alongside the ever-present Beyond patties) and we shared the house fries (sweet potato & regular potato covered in sweet chilli and topped with spring onions). It was all sensational, from the homemade flatbread to the unctuous cheese in the burger, we loved it all! 🍔 🍟 🌯


It's not massive, I would say around 30 covers so expect a little wait for tables at peak times.


Urban Shaman


A 10 minute stroll in land from the beach we found Urban Shaman. Think Bali meets Byron; white washed furnishings with drift-wood accents, this place was a big piece of us. Their completely vegan menu and cold pressed juices reminded us of our favourite spots from previous travels, and their food was as delicious as it looked 😍😍😍


Smoothie bowls, seasonal toasts, buckwheat pancakes and a chickpea 'omelet' special were all devoured and we loved them all! They also did some ace 'feel good' hot drinks (the usual suspects, matcha & turmeric lattes etc)


Saint George Restaurant


Jaffa seemed to have a bunch of great places to eat but a combination of weather and time constraints meant that we only got up here once.


Saint George at Jaffa port is a large eatery with huge indoor and outdoor spaces to eat. We had already sat down when we realised that the specialities of this place were meat shawarma and fish dishes...


But we spotted that everything came out with an enormous selection of salad, pickles, vegetables, hummus and bread, and after a quick non-verbal exchange with the waiter we were sat waiting for whatever plants they could get together + plenty of hummus and bread.


What a revelation, this is my idea of eating! at least 15 small plates of hot, sour, salty, zingy bits and pieces plus a bread basket that magically replenished with hot bread strait from the oven every time it got even close to empty! Victory from the jaws of defeat indeed.



Yakatusha


Falafel on the menu for the first time and I don't think any of us were ready for this one. All people talk about is the shawarma, but in each of the shawarma hotspots you'll also find a bubbling underground trade in falafel and hummus pitas.


Right, these are hard to describe but here goes. A circular, pillowy pita (when I say pillowy I mean this thing is almost like a crumpet inside) get laced with hummus, crushed chillis and tahini sauce before the first 5 (crispy on the outside / creamy on the inside) falafels get stuffed in, followed by chopped salad (tomato, lettuce and cucumber), picked cabbage, sliced red onion and chillis, mango chilli sauce, 2 more falafels and another splodge of tahini sauce - this is the real deal, like nothing we've had before - a fresh and vibrant taste sensation. We eat a LOT of falafel pitas , and I mean a lot 😂, but nothing can prepare you for this dreamboat



Mehane Yehuda Market


We actually did a little road trip on the Sunday and ended up in Jerusalem, so had to eat in the famous MYM 🚘


We took some advice from the waitress and ended up with - slow roasted aubergine stuffed with garlic and mushrooms, a baked rice and veg dish that we somewhere between a biryani and a Moroccan tagine with soft chunks of veg and fluffy rice were all stained a beautiful yellow from the Middle Eastern spices they had been cooking with for the 4 hours previous.


Obviously also ordered 20 falafel, the house hummus and 2 more pitas (not quite as good but still extremely tasty). This place was one of my faves for sure. A lot of the other places felt a bit like you could find them im most metropolitan European cities, this felt way more local and like we'd found a proper hidden gem



Dosa Bar


We'd had our eye on this since the off but due to Saturdays being the holy day in Isreal this was the first chance we had to hit it up.


It's exactly what it sounds like, a dosa bar, a COMPLETELY VEGAN dosa bar.


We both love dosa so were super excited for this one and it was an absolute dream. The dosas were big, crispy on the outside and fluffy as hell on the inside. The fillings were so so tasty (classic masala potato, 'green' which has a bunch of sautéed greens and red which was a sweet potato number) and the home made chutneys that came with each were bangers.


They also do thalis, which are another favourite but we're spoilt for these at home so had to go with the dosa. As luck would have it, you could get the individual thali dishes as sides so we snaffled a potato tikka masala, which was cashew based and one of the best I've had and a tofu 'paneer' dish which was also lovely.


Indian might not be the first food you think of when you imagine TLV food but you definitely won't be forgetting it.

Anastasia


More homely and reminiscent of somewhere like Mildreds, for you London kats, Anastasia was the last supper.


We'd eaten amazing food but none of it could be described as particularly heathy. A lot of blogs call this the best vegan food in town and you can see why! They make everything from scratch, its all cooked fresh to order and whole foods are the order of the day here. We had a squash and Jerusalem artichoke spelt risotto and oyster mushroom and cashew cheese flat bread as well as their famous cheeze board to share.


It was exactly what we needed by this point! Hearty, wholesome, nutritious and absolutely delicious.


We got there pretty early and there was a queue by the time we get but im pretty sure that you can book in advance so I'd def do that if you want to grab a spot here!



Hakosem & Sultana Shawarma (the Jamie Oliver trail)


Everyone told us 'you haver to go to the magician' 'the magician is the best shawarma on the planet' - We obviously don't eat classic shawarma so had to compromise - we hit hakusem for some more falafel and hummus action and headed to Sultana Shawarma for their famous vegan mushroom shawarma


I'm not gonna lie, I'd seen this brother chopping shrooms off the big spinning stick on Jamie Oliver's plant based program recently and when we didn't see the 'bab, I was all up for throwing my toys out of the pram and leaving! Hayley talked me out of that (like usual), we ordered the mushroom shawarma which was cooked on bars over coal and it was decent, but to be honest, I'd choose one the many falafel versions over this all day.


There was a tonne of other stuff that looked great too though, they call themselves a 'vegan bbq' so I'd 100% go back and try out the rest of the menu


We had to try out this institution so we readied ourselves for more chickpea action.


This place is buzzing, really buzzing, the queue is 10 deep, there's underground 4x4 beats pumping out of speakers and there are 40 people sat outside on communal benches smashing pitas into their faces.


We had these giant metal tins of hummus, another 20 falafel and 2 fresh pitas. This was good, it was really good but... I do think I was hummussed-out by this point and it started to become a struggle towards the end In all honesty - I reckon I was about 91% chickpea by the time we had finished.





Honourable mentions:


Not going to spend ages on these but we had some really top coffee at Origem (which is very handily positioned opposite Urban Shamen) and Otello Gelato who had a top selection of vegan ice creams and sorbets (peach sour, dark chocolate, lotus cream) and the myriad sweet treat sellers in the Jerusalem Shuk





We really wanted to try these beauts too, but never got ourselves there:


416 - which seems to be vegan fine dining &

Rainbow Burger - which as the name suggests, is a straight up vegan burger bar


It's also worth saying that both of my colleagues ate veggie (and mostly vegan) whilst here and it has completely opened their eyes to the possibilities with plants! I've got super high hopes that they'll both be starting to change their eating habbits for good when they get home!


Touristy Bits and Pieces


This wasn't a tourist trip, we didn't really have time, but we did do a couple of cool things outside of eating all the food.


On the Saturday we walked along the beautiful coast line to the old town of Jaffa. This was such a good decision! It takes about an hour to walk up to here from the centre but who doesn't like an hours stroll by the water? You could be forgiven for thinking you were in any European city by the sea in TLV centre, think Barca or Lisbon... This is the perfect antidote, old stone built buildings, a buzzing flea market, cobbled streets and a really old school energy - we weren't here for nearly long enough but it was super cool!




On the Sunday we took a ROOOAADDD TRRIIIPPPP! To... the Dead Sea and Jerusalem obvs!


Where to start? Well, the Dead Sea is 'interesting'. We went to Kalia Beach (I think there are a few hotspots you can swim in though) and to call it a beach is playing a little fast and loose with the truth - you turn up to a gravel car park full of coaches and that gravel persists until you're in the water. It's 60 Shekels (£12.80) per person to 'get in' and that gets you access to showers, parking, sun chairs and rescue but if you want to use the lockers that's additional! Sounds pretty rubbish, and in all honesty, it's not amazing, but to say that you've been to the lowest place on earth and floated in the Dead Sea is pretty cool isn't it?


From this beach it's about 35 minutes into Jerusalem so we headed straight there for some lunch. To be honest, it was a bit of a flying visit and we could have done with longer but it was freezing cold, we were very hungry and we had a deadline with the rental car, so we parked in the the NCP equivalent as you roll into town and headed for Mehana Yehuda Market. Think bright colours, bustling corridors, an almost deafening hubbub + more food and drink than an Essex wedding! We loved it here, it's somewhere between a bazaar and a food hall and it's exactly what we'd hoped we'd find somewhere on our trip - would def recommend getting up here for an afternoon at least.


Amazing Market Colours

When David went back to work I found myself wandering around aimlessly looking for somewhere new to explore and a quick Google search came up with Sarona Market. A mere 20 minute walk from our hotel, the building was easy to find and although I arrived there too early for lunch it looks like a fab place to go for a vast selection of food choices! I took a photo of the sign post so you can see some of the options – Mexican, Asian, Italian, Indian, fish, meat Etc. It was all there and I’d have loved to have gone back! I had a quick wander and ended up in Max Brenner chocolate restaurant where I treated myself to a coffee and a vegan breakfast which consisted of a delicious vegan omelette, a few small tapas dishes, a whole basket of warm bread and a pot of dipping dark chocolate. Heavenly!! The whole lot (including the coffee and OJ) cost me a mere 69 shekels - bargain!



Fat and happy I decided to take a walk to the art museum which is really close by. This cost me approx. £10 for a single adult ticket and off I went, not having a clue what I was looking at but weirdly enjoying the fact that I was visiting an art museum. My favourite part was an exhibit on climate change residential projects across the world, definitely worth the entrance fee to spend a couple of hours wandering around.



Quick Links


Food

Goodness Vegan Diner

Urban Shamen Cold Pressed Juice and Brunch Bar

Dosa Bar

Yashka Shawarma

Saint George Jaffa

Mehane Yahuda Market

Anastasia Vegan Cafe

Sultana Shawarma Vegan BBQ

Hakosem / The Magician

Origem Coffee

Otello Gelato

416 Fine Dining

Rainbow Vegan Burger


Other

Hotel Cinema

Dizengoff Square

Kalia Beach

Mahane Yehuda Market - Jerusalem

Sarona Food Market

Tel Aviv Art Museum




Peace, Love & Plants

H&D



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