It’s Official: Tel Aviv Is a Top, Global Foodie Capital

Prestigious U.S. gourmet magazine ranks Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the city that never stops, among the world's most serious culinary destinations.

Boaz Lavie

It’s a city that's often mocked, frequently compared to Pompeii – and described as existing in a hedonistic bubble that has forsaken real values on the altar of culinary pleasure. But now it’s gaining world recognition for just that: SAVEUR Magazine, a leading and highly influential American magazine of gourmet food and wine, which specializes in showcasing authentic local cuisines around the world, has recently given Tel Aviv-Jaffa two very prestigious rankings in its 2014 culinary-travel awards: It is ranked as “outstanding” in the category of Best Culinary Destination, Small International (population of up to 800,000) along with such cities as Florence and Lyon. Top honors in this category went to Copenhagen; San Sebastian, Spain was named the readers’ pick.

Israel's hip city on the Mediterranean also received honorable mention in the magazine's category of Best Markets and Shops. In this context, both experts and the publication's readers picked Tokyo for first place, but Tel Aviv was again ranked “outstanding,” alongside Barcelona and Paris.

Another Israeli locale appearing on the magazine's list of cities with the best markets and shops is Jerusalem, which along with Bangkok, Istanbul and Madrid, was named as a “notable” destination in this category.

SAVEUR's annual rankings cover 21 categories selected by a panel of experts. In addition to those mentioned, there are others such as Best Hotel Restaurant, Best Hotel Bar, Best Airport Lounge, Best Winery Experience, Best Culinary Tours, Best Culinary Cruise Line and Best In-Flight Dining.

Under each category appear both the experts’ and readers' choice for top destination, outstanding destinations and notable destinations.

In presenting the awards, the magazine proclaims: “We’ve found that every country, every city, every street has a delicious story within, but that doesn’t mean that some journeys aren’t better than others. To honor the world’s best cities, markets, restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, and other experiences, we’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2014 SAVEUR Culinary Travel Awards. One of the philosophies by which we live at SAVEUR is that there’s no such thing as a bad trip.”

There are currently 4,536 eateries and three large food markets operating in Tel Aviv. The culinary accolades accorded by the American magazine come on the heels of other kudos the city has received recently – including being named the Middle East “capital of cool,” the best city for gays (Gaycities), and one of the world's leading 10 beach cities (Lonely Planet).

Israel's culinary world notched another achievement this week as well: For the first time, local architects were among final nominees for the U.K. and International Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, equivalent to the Oscars in this field, in the Middle East and Africa category. The two local eateries are chef Avi Conforti’s Topolpompo, in Tel Aviv, and the Pastel restaurant in the new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.