In Tel Aviv, Bauhaus architecture meets the azure waters of the Mediterranean, beach bums with longboards sit at sidewalk cafes sipping strong espresso, and eclectic cuisine fuses European culinary techniques with Arab spices. With creative flair and endless enthusiasm, expats and Israel-born artists, chefs, and designers are paving the way and making Tel Aviv the coolest city in the Mediterranean.
Here, four Tel Aviv insiders tell you where to go and what to see in their city.
Irene Kronenberg, owner and partner at BK Architecture. Her Tel Aviv projects include a number of restaurants and hotels, such as Mendeli Street Hotel, Herbert Samuel, Yaffo-Tel Aviv, and Pastel, located in the new wing of the Tel Aviv Art Museum.
The heart of the city The White City is the heart of Tel Aviv. It's saturated with a unique collection of Bauhaus buildings; some of them in very bad condition and some newly renovated. The population of this area is pluralistic: families, young and old, affluent and beginners, high culture and low culture. It's a real melting pot.
Spend the night Montefiori has just 12 rooms and is an upscale little hotel with very unique and eclectic design. Its restaurant is a hotspot in the city.
Soulful reads The Book Worm is full of soul. The owners are two ladies, Ariana and Fanny, who are able to recommend books on almost every topic you are interested in. This bookshop has its own little café, which gives the opportunity to sit for a drink and check out a book before making up your mind.
No fuss humus Sometimes when we develop a crave for humus, we drive 10 minutes to Jaffa and stop at Abu-Hassan [1 Dolphin St.; no website] near Jaffa's old port for the best humus in town. It's a very typical place in Jaffa: no formalities, no reservations, no choice of your table. You sit where there is a place and share the table with other humus fanatics. It's always a very authentic and a cool experience.
Catch the sunset Banana Beach is the best location to drink a beer and to admire the sunset. But go in the early morning, around 6 or 7 am, and you can meet regulars who start their day swimming and drinking a very strong Turkish coffee before going to work.
Favourite neighborhood Neve Tzedek is scattered with 100-year-old fascinating and exciting buildings, which create an architectural mosaic. Also, the peace and tranquility in the alleys combined with the artisan shops, tiny cafés and boutique restaurants create the most exciting neighborhood in Tel Aviv.
Colorful market I love the Levinsky Market, which is filled with colors and intoxicating smells of spices, pickles, smoked sausages, cheeses, Turkish pastries and whatever you can think of. It is small but very passionate and reminds us of the markets of Morocco, Turkey and the Middle East in general. As a person who loves to cook food that's passionate, delightful and full of aromas and flavors, this market is an inspiration and a fascinating drawing board.
Perfect for people watching I usually do not eat breakfast, but I like to drink my morning coffee while watching the Nahalat Binyamin Street fabric dealers hurry to work alongside business people rushing to banks and security firms that are located around the Catit and Mizlala restaurants. The architecture in the area, the breaking of the morning light and colorful people--these are the things that give me great energy to start the day.
Savoury Treat I especially like Cubana, a pastry that came to Israel with the Jews of Yemen. I do a version of it at Mizlala. There are those who call our Cubana the "Yemini Brioche," an airy pastry filled with butter and served with crushed fresh tomato and a few slices of hot pepper.
Haifa-native Guy Yanai lives and works in Tel Aviv. His work can be seen at Alon Segev Gallery.
Weekend brunch Hotel Montefiori restaurant has the best breakfast. It's relaxed in the morning, with classical music playing, and impeccable service. The crowd is mixed, with locals and foreigners, artsy and business people. I like all of the poached egg things they do.
Superb dining Without a doubt try any vegetable dish that Eyal Shani serves at Abraxas Tzafon [Lilinblum 40]. His food is always sexy, always fresh, always jaw dropping, and somehow so down-to-earth.
Great ingredients The Delicatessen on Yehuda Halevi is my favorite. The place is small but you can pretty much get everything there--from perfect pastries and olives, canned goods and cheeses to wines and seasonal fruit. What else does one need?
Authentic finds Gelada Studio sells cool t-shirts with playful graphics from around the world, printed in the very neighborhood. Gelada also sells unique stationary, photos, and graphics from local Tel Avivian artists.
Caffeine fix Without a doubt Cafelix has the best coffee in town. They have seven different coffee blends, and you can also get pastries and sandwiches. It's located in a peaceful neighborhood off Shlomo Hamelech Street. It's also a great spot for your quiet afternoon chill. Sit on the porch if there's space.
Dance the night away I'm subjective to my place, Kuli Alma, but otherwise The Block has the best sound system in town and features the biggest international DJs performing in Tel Aviv. Bars in Tel Aviv are usually lax with smoking and it's pretty much anything goes around here.
Late night bite If it's 4am and you're dying for a tasty munch but don't want a fancy schmancy place, go to Itzik & Ruthi, a sandwich place at 53 Sheinkin Street. This place has been running for almost 60 years.
Hair of the dog Brown Hotel has a nice cocktail bar that serves a mean Bloody Mary, the perfect cure for a long night out.