How did all this happen? Apparently, because of the currently upgraded street food trend and promotional work by chefs, the image of the sausage (or frankfurter) has changed dramatically. No longer a product made from low-grade meat leftovers, the sausage has become a culinary challenge worthy of any chef. Today’s sausages have become juicy, carefully prepared main courses and are made of fresh beef (in most cases, the non-kosher variety) seasoned with special spices and various additions that are usually associated with gourmet restaurants rather than street food. Therefore, it is no easy task to choose the five best sausages in Tel Aviv.
A culinary secret weapon: Thai House’s Isaan-style pork sausage
Thai House has already become a Tel Aviv institution and is proud to offer its customers challenging, accessible and outstanding Thai cuisine. Although you might not find too many sausage recipes in Asian cuisine, it does have quite a few sausage options prepared on the grill. And you can trust that Thais from the northeastern province of Isaan can cook sausages that are both “hot” and absolutely delicious.
The winning dish: Isaan pork sausage. This sausage caught us completely off guard. Two thick, fatty sausages, sharply seasoned with Thai spices is exactly what one would expect from the cuisine of the Thai province of Isaan. The generous inclusion of hot peppers provides for a powerful flavor that is inviting to the tongue; it is crispy on the outside and juicey, as it should be, on the inside. It is served with shredded cabbage, fresh garlic, ginger, and throat-scorching hot peppers. Instructions for eating this delicacy: Take some shredded cabbage, place a slice of sausage on it, and then add the other ingredients on the plate. The result will be a delightful interplay of sharpness that is suddenly balanced by the cabbage and peanuts. In short, this is a dish that is both “hot” and refreshing.
The cost: NIS36
Since you’re already there anyway: Your only sensible option is simply to order another plate of these sausages as your main course or for dessert.
Thai House – 8 Bograshov St., Tel Aviv
A sausage that is a pure delight: Vitrina’s Texas Frankfurter
Although Vitrina Sausage Grill is a relative newcomer to the Tel Aviv scene, you somehow get the feeling that it has been here a very long time. It has played a major role in the sausage revolution that has turned this item into a sexy product. At Vitrina, the sausages are premium-quality and there are many different kinds to choose from. The french fries, by the way, are superb.
The winning dish: The Texas Frankfurter, which is a barbecued veal sausage. Makes you feel as if you were at a backyard barbecue in America. The creative presentation of this sausage dish turns it into a unique experience for the sausage enthusiast, thanks to the Dijon mustard spread on the soft inside of the bun that has been toasted on the outside. Also, the addition of caramelized onions and the slow (but not too slow) barbecuing of the sausage provides for a delicious and tasty experience for the senses. The result is a sausage that is blessedly crispy on the outside and wonderfully juicy on the inside.
The cost: NIS28, NIS45 if you want a side order of french fries
Since you’re already there anyway: What you need can be expressed in one word - hamburger. One day there will be Vitrina branches all over Israel.
Vitrina – 53 Ibn Gvirol St., Tel Aviv
Gently seasoned: Port 19’s Chorizo
If you have been privileged to taste a really great sausage in a restaurant here in Tel Aviv, there is a 90% chance that it was made by master charcutier Alan Talmor. Few people know that a year ago in the Jaffa port, Talmor opened Port 19, a frankfurter and sausage stall where you can taste sausages not found anywhere else in Israel. You can find his fine-quality sausages in many restaurants scattered throughout the city, but the range of sausage options at Port 19 is worth a visit.
The winning dish: With so many sausage choices to choose from, it is hard to recommend which one is best; however, in my opinion, the prize goes to Talmon’s chorizo because he has created a beef sausage that retains its delightful fattiness and seasoned with a secret blend of spices including several varieties of paprika, cumin and black pepper. All these ingredients give the sausage depth and presence, as well as a sharp punch and a captivating, smoky flavor. Talmon’s chirozo takes one on a grand tour of the Mediterranean – from Spain to Morocco and then back to Israel.
The cost: NIS29
Since you’re already there anyway: Go for the business lunch (which is served all day on weekdays); it will cost you NIS45 including french fries and a beverage.
Port 19 – Jaffa Port market, Jaffa
Where Munich and Tel Aviv meet: Bratwurst at Bayern
With all the Asian restaurants that have opened in Tel Aviv over the past 12 months, we have somewhat neglected European cuisine. Fortunately for us, the Bavarian brasserie, Bayern has a menu with ten different kinds of schnitzels. Other dishes include bratwurst (fresh pork sausage), and German cuisine dishes, which Bayern has restored and perfected in Israel. What better way to spend a hot summer’s night than with a cold glass of beer and a high-quality sausage?
The winning dish: Bratwurst. On Bayern’s menu, you will find five different sausage main courses but, if my back is pressed against the wall, I would have to choose bratwurst. Unlike other restaurants, Bayern fries its sausages giving them a golden brown color and renders them crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. What is more, Bayern uses authentic Bavarian seasoning with marjoram, bay leaves, English pepper, and caraway seeds, all of which create a subtle aroma and taste. The bratwurst is served with sauerkraut, bacon, fluffy mashed potatoes, and a cold beer. In short, the most European venue you will find in Tel Aviv this summer.
The cost: NIS54
Since you’re already there anyway: You should start your journey to Bavaria with a freshly baked pretzel dipped in yellow cheese and beer, and of course, order a beer to go with it. This is the closest Tel Avivians will get to Munich today.
Bayern – 22 Frishman St., Tel Aviv
Offering no apologies: Lamb sausage at Elba
With many flashy restaurants bursting onto the scene in recent years, Elba, owned by Chef Yair Yosefi and restaurateur Joe Marciano, is a small island of sanity and wonderful cuisine that gives raw materials their deserved place at center stage. Whether the influence is French or local, the food at Elba makes no apologies for its perkiness and, if more evidence is needed, just try the lamb sausages, which are the most fiery items on the menu.
The winning dish: Alan Talmor’s lamb sausages served with a hot (temperature-wise) potato-and-purple-cabbage salad, and bruschetta with tomatoes and a beer. The lamb sausage is packed with lamb meat and some veal as well, with a dominant, country-style, crispy flavor. Makes you feel as if you have just been flown to Provence.
The cost: NIS69
Since you’re already there anyway: Ask for Tzuk Farm Delicatessen’s sausages - a sheer, mouth-watering delight.
Elba – 36 Ibn Gvirol St., Tel Aviv
Another direction: Mushroom sausages with freekeh risotto at Ouzeria
For those vegetarians and vegans who long for sausages but are unwilling to sacrifice their dietary principles, Ouzeria’s vegan sausages are a wonderful substitute. Forget everything you knew about risotto and sausages and taste this wonderful dish. Chef Avivit Priel Avichai takes a blanched leek, empties it out and stuffs it with a mixture of mushrooms (champignon and Portobello), onions and pine nuts that create a meaty, surprising and pleasurable taste. She places these “sausages” on a bed of traditional risotto, with freekeh – cracked and roasted green wheat – in place of rice, and tahina instead of butter, making it a light dish for vegans. The final result: a dizzying delight that deliciously redefines the boundaries of flavor.
The cost: NIS42
Ouzeria – 44 Matalon St., Tel Aviv
The best sausages outside Tel Aviv
Jem’s Beer Factory – When someone like Jeremy (“Jem”) Welfeld, who used to cater events at the White House, decides to make aliyah to Israel and to set up a beer brewery in Petah Tikva, you can bet your bottom dollar that something great is going to happen. Jem’s Beer Factory has proven that a sausage can be tasty and kosher. The original recipe was the brainchild of Swiss-born master of sausages and smoked meats Vince Mustar and we especially enjoyed the diablo dogs (frankfurters), which cost NIS59 and are highly-seasoned, made of entrecote and mutton. They include red-hot peppers that you can taste with each delicious bite. One of Jem’s specialties is a sausage with chicken liver and fried onions inside. The result is a surprising dish that is a must for carnivores.
Jem’s Beer Factory – 14 Hamagshimim St., Petah Tikva
Helga Wurst – When is the last time you traveled to the Jezre’el Valley to get a meal? Well, Helga Wurst is a good reason to visit this part of Israel. Actually, this is not a restaurant but rather a delicatessen or, to be even more precise, a charcuterie, where you can purchase Helga Wurst’s sausages to easily prepare at home. Charcutier Doobie shapes the eight kinds of sausages by hand. We recommend the smoked meat sausages. By the way, Helga Wurst also delivers to central Israel. The cost: NIS86 per kilogram.
To access Helga Wurst’s website, just press here.
B’sarele Haifa – The trip from Tel Aviv to Haifa is well worth the trouble for B’sarele’s terrific chorizos (NIS36). The seasoning gives the sausages a strong, smoky, garlic-laced presence. They go well with salsa and tahini.
B’sarele – Castra Center, 8 Fliman St., Haifa
Little Brazil – I love “all you can eat” places and Little Brazil is one of them. And don’t forget to order the chorizos that are faithfully prepared according to South American tradition.
Little Brazil – 3 Eilot St., Eilat
Bernard – Chances are that, if you aren’t from Rishon Letzion, you have not heard of Bernard, which is a cross between a sandwich bar and a groovy, dimly lit café. Bernard carefully prepares its sausages, which are properly seasoned. The veal sausage sandwich costs NIS31. A closely guarded secret is where Bernard makes its sausages. In the attic, of course.
Bernard – 77 Rotschild Blvd., Rishon Letzion