clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tel Aviv Street Food Guide: What and Where to Eat

Explore the best cheap eats like falafel, shawarma, and sabich

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Yael Tamar

When people think of Tel Aviv — the largest city on Israel's Mediterranean coast — they think of nightlife and nonstop action, but the heart of the city beats with the food of the streets. Nearly year-round warm weather and an outdoor lifestyle fuel a booming street-food industry with choices on every corner, especially if you're strapped for cash.

For years, falafel was Israel's quintessential street food. Now the scene is a melting pot of delicacies from far-flung locales such as Turkey, Yemen, and Iraq, adapted to fit the hip Tel Aviv crowd.

Here's what (and where) to eat in Tel Aviv:

Bourekas

These savory flaky pastries made from puff pastry or phyllo dough are filled with cheese, spinach, potato, and more. Originating from Turkey, these have become the go-to Israeli snack. You’ll find them everywhere from hole-in-the-wall eateries to bakeries. Coming in shapes like triangles, squares, and circles, bourekas are best eaten fresh, piping hot, and with your hands. The real deal is the oversized version, cut open with a hardboiled egg and some tangy grated tomato.

Where to get it:

Levinsky Bourekas, Levinski 46, in the Levinsky Market (Shuk). Vital Intel: Take time to sit down and eat in-house like a local, washing the boureka down with the refreshing yogurt drink known as ayran.

Original Turkish Bourekas, 39 Hacarmel, Carmel Market. Vital Intel: This over-20-year-old spot is known for its light-textured phyllo version of bourekas.

Image credit: Yael Tamar

Falafel

Falafel at HaKosem Photo by Yaron Brenner

These golden, deep-fried chickpea fritters — doused in tahini then piled with salads and nestled in a fluffy pita — are the ultimate on-the-go lunch. A big part of Tel Aviv's love for falafel is the endless choices of toppings like picante carrots, pickled cabbage, olives, and spicy sauces. Ask for it topped with amba (pickled mango sauce) and grab some condiments to eat on the side.

Where to get it:

Falafel Hakosem, 1 Shlomo Ha'Melech. Vital Intel: This is also the place to try sabich and shawarma (more on those below); everything here is exceptionally well-done.

Tadmor Falafel, 98 Derech Salame. Vital Intel: This falafel institution has been around for years, a favorite among locals.

Falafel Hasharon, 61 Nachalat Binyamin. Vital Intel: This new, under-the-radar place makes a much lighter-colored falafel, and the spice blend is milder than the typical, traditional version. It is owned by the same crew as its neighbor Sabich Hasharon.

Image credit: Yaron Brenner

Hummus

Photo by Haim Yosef

This chickpea spread has become popular around the world, but forget what you know if you’ve only had the packaged kind. For Israelis, this main dish isn’t hummus until it’s spread circularly on a plate and drizzled with olive oil. Do not dip: "Wipe" it up with pita while munching on house-made pickles. In many hummus spots you’ll find masabacha, a thicker-textured version topped with warm chickpeas in their own sauce, as well as tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Where to get it:

Abu Hassan, Ali Karavan, 14 Shivtei Israel. Vital Intel: With multiple locations, you have until 3 p.m. to get it before it runs out. Get the half-hummus, half-masabacha version.

Mi Va Mi, 35 Derech Menachem Begin. Vital Intel: So good that when the place closed down due to nearby construction affecting access, the employees bought the shop and reopened it.

Image credit: Haim Yosef

Shawarma

Take a deep breath and inhale the hit of cumin, paprika, cloves, and other aromatics emanating from shawarma stands — it's a thick and hearty treat that is best downed with a tangy amba, a pickled mango condiment. Hit-the-spot, spice-infused lamb, turkey, or beef is rolled up in a fat pita or a laffa — an oversized slightly chewy pita — with salad to boot.



Where to get it:



Shawarma Bino, 29 David Raziel, Jaffa. Vital Intel: Don’t miss the tender and perfectly spiced lamb version.



Keter Hamizrach, 115 Ibn. Gvirol. Vital Intel: Squeeze in and get a seat so you can dine with the locals, who come for the homestyle food, too.

Image credit: Shawarma Bino/TripAdvisor

Sabich

Currently trending, this breakfast dish arrived from Iraq in the 1950s. It's not hard to see why people today love sabich: Think big, fluffy pitas filled with deep-fried eggplant slices, fresh tomato and cucumber salad, browned hard-boiled eggs, and boiled potatoes, completed with amba sauce on top.

Where to get it:

Mifgash Osher, 105 King George. Vital Intel: This is the place for sabich, but it also the place to get the best "salad," basically a pita-less rendition of sabich: fried eggplant slices, bulgur wheat, tahini, curry-seasoned chickpeas, and also labane and fluffy golden-yellow falafel. The falafel in a pita is a must, too.



Sabich Frishman, 42 Frishman St. Vital Intel: For the indecisive, you can have the best of both worlds. Grab a sabich at this popular spot, and then opt for a falafel at Falafel Frishman, its sister place next door.

Image credit: Keren Brown

Shakshuka

Eaten for breakfast, brunch, or even a light dinner, this dish of poached eggs in a spicy, stewed tomato sauce has begun to show up at cafes and restaurants worldwide. Eat it in pita or scoop it up with crusty bread. In Tel Aviv, you’ll find creative versions with goat cheese, sausage, lamb, and even a vegan version, an eggless ratatouille-like stew bursting with vegetables.

Where to get it: Shukshuka, 3 Simtat Hacarmel. Vital Intel: Located in the humming Carmel Market, it’s a lively spot to try creative shakshuka variations alongside a shot of arak, an alcoholic anise-flavored drink.

Image credit: Shukshuka/Facebook

Jachnun

This doughy delicacy is a fixture in Yemenite homes on Saturday mornings, but you can get it at a makolet (corner grocery) on Thursday or Friday. This labor-intensive breakfast treat is rolled out by hand (with butter or margarine brushed in between the folds and rolls) and cooked overnight. It usually comes with grated tomatoes, chilbeh (fenugreek paste), zhug (a local hot sauce), and a roasted egg.



Where to get it: Saloof & Sons, Nahalat Binyamin Street 80. Vital Intel: Try a whole array of Yemenite foods here, including kubaneh, a soft overnight-baked yeast bread, and lachuch, a spongy pancake-like flatbread.

Image credit: Ronen Malhan

Malabi

Perfect for blazing hot days, this white custard is infused with rosewater, thickened with cornstarch or rice, then topped with more rosewater and chopped peanuts, a sweet raspberry syrup, and/or flaked coconut. Don’t mix it with your spoon: locals eat it in silky chunks.



Where to get it:



Some call this nameless spot Malabi Dajani, Sderot Yerushalayim 94, Jaffa. Vital Intel: As old-school as it gets, malabi here is served with no toppings, just house-made pudding and syrup. Try the gazoz, retro homemade flavored sodas, too.



HaMalabia, Allenby 60, Shuk Ha Carmel or Amiad 11, Shuk HaPishpishim. Vital Intel: HaMalabia offers many flavor combinations and a generous seating area for hanging with friends.

Image credit: Yael Tamar

Kubbeh

Sephardic Jews of myriad backgrounds will tell you about their version of kubbeh (also called kubbah), a meat-filled croquette whose pronunciation gives away where the cook is from. On the streets you’ll often find the bulgur version filled with spiced beef, onion, and pine nuts. Squeeze into a tiny eatery to dine on the semolina or rice dumpling versions, served in a hot soup like the sweet and sour kubbeh hamusta, or in beet soup known as kubbeh selek.



Where to get it:



Sabich Complete, 99 Ibn Gabirol St. Vital Intel: Yes, they’re known for their sabich, but this is the place for homey kubbeh, too.



Dizengoff Center Food Fair, 50 Dizengoff St. Vital Intel: This enormous food fair houses hundreds of delicacies that locals cook at home, including every type of kubbeh possible. Open Thursdays and Fridays.

Image credit: Keren Brown

Burik

Burik (also known as burika or brik) comes from North Africa. It’s a thin dough called warka, filled with egg and potato or other fillings — then deep-fried to crispy perfection. Find it at a stand in the Carmel Market, where it’s served in a pita with pilpel chuma (a pepper and garlic hot sauce) and a pumpkin potato spread known as tchirshi: the ultimate carb-on-carb brunch snack.



Where to get it: Haburika Shuk HaCarmel, 42 Carmel Market, in Burika Center Carmel Market. Vital Intel: Owner Kobi Shmuel’s mom makes the dough by hand. Let him pile on the toppings and don’t miss the sfenj, a plump, deep-fried Moroccan doughnut.

Image credit: Facebook

Chef-driven street food

When celebrity chef Eyal Shani opened Miznon, crowds swarmed to try his high-end joint with myriad pita-stuffing options, from juicy kebabs to minute steaks to lush roasted vegetables — not to mention his much-talked-about whole roasted cauliflower. To this day, this spot is busy like no other, and has paved the way for other renowned chefs to open street food spots with high-end standards.



Where to get it:



Miznon, 23 Ibn Gabirol St or 30 King George St. Vital Intel: For a true Miznon experience, squeeze into a seat around the open kitchen to watch the staff in action.



Shipudey Europa, 9 Rothschild Blvd Vital Intel: Chef Sharon Cohen of the well-loved restaurant and bar Shila opened this kebab hub serving an almost unbelievable range of kebabs and a multitude of salads. For dessert, a house-made ice cream bar features daily-changing flavors.

Image credit: Miznon official site


Keren Brown is a food writer and author whose writing has been featured in Time Out Israel as well as on her blog, Frantic Foodie
Editor: Hillary Dixler


Can't get enough of Eater? Sign up for our newsletter.