In recent years, with the help of the Tel Aviv municipality, the Jaffa flea market has been rocking with its shops and food, as well as the large market. Over the next few weeks even more restaurants will open, so we took a culinary tour of what’s there so far.
Stopping for ice cream
The Capitolina ice cream shop has been in existence since 2009, but it was Jaffa’s best-kept secret until recently. Ice-cream maker Yair Sharon and media man Or Yisraeli focus on real Italian gelato. The streets are colorful, and even better, this place only uses natural coloring.
Our recommendation: Of the 32 flavors (in winter, too!), the lemon-pie ice cream.
9 Olei Zion St.
A vegetarian meal
A year ago, chef Amos Hayoun opened his small Christopher’s Cafe on the market’s fringes; Hayoun had just returned after many years in New York.
Christopher’s was inspired by the small cafes on Manhattan’s side streets, which serve American cuisine with a local twist.
Our recommendation: With all due respect to vegetarian cuisine, the dessert display won our hearts.
13 Beit Eshel St.
One of the best places to open over the past year is Ras el-Hanout, a combination deli/restaurant. The owners are the people responsible for Fleamarket, the mega-restaurant next door. Ras el-Hanout provides what the area lacks – high-quality ingredients (sausage, cheeses, vegetables and wine) and a place to sit and enjoy them in the Jaffa atmosphere.
Our recommendation: An affordable bottle of wine from the shelves (we suggest a Paul Mas rose) and a plate of sausage and excellent Dutch cheese, as part of the tasting menu.
10 Mergoza St.
Forget about the fancy menus, foo-foo design and big productions. Visit the small, quiet space of Elementary, Zach Melul’s new chef’s restaurant. With no pretentiousness, Melul serves Mediterranean-style dishes with a personal touch.
This can be seen in his Asian-style chicken soup or crab and shrimp patties, which come at sane prices. The bonus: The moment you sit down you get a glass of water and a focaccia. Our recommendation: The business lunch for NIS 59, which includes an appetizer, a scandalously good focaccia and a main course.
7 Beit Eshel St.
Here’s is another quiet, new place. Paspartu’s expertise is beer; the fridge is stocked with more than 70 different kinds. And Paspartu has an attractive bar menu, including the meatball sandwich and beet kibbeh soup. The business menu is good, too, and at NIS 45 quite affordable. This is the place to retreat from the market’s noise.
Our recommendation: Happy hour, which is between 4 and 8 P.M.
7 Rabbi Hanina St.
A quick snack
A cafe by day, a bistro at noon and a bar in the evening, Gibberish was opened early last summer. This small restaurant quietly grabbed the best place opposite the market’s central plaza, so the best time to visit is the morning. That way you can watch the merchants, tourists and backpackers scurry about.
Our recommendation: With the long opening hours, the menu has something for everyone. In the spirit of the market, we enjoyed the chraimeh bruschetta and liver on egg bread for the main course.
14 Amiad St.
A romantic date
Almost hidden at the edge of the market, Sola doesn’t play by Jaffa’s rules. From the large space with stone arches to the dim lighting to the northern Italian menu, Sola is one of Jaffa’s delightful surprises. Owner Michal Berman transformed a deserted metalworking factory into a trattoria with an interpretation of classic dishes from northern Italy and a great affection for wine. Add this to your list of romantic places.
Our recommendation: the lasagna vaccinara.
31 Beit Eshel St.
A Friday night meal
Don’t confuse Albi with the cafe in south Tel Aviv. The flea market's Albi was opened three months ago as the area’s Greek-style taverna and restaurant, now that Yasu Saloniki has closed. Albi, open from morning until early evening, offers a light breakfast menu in the Greek spirit, sandwiches and platters of Meiri cheese, souvlaki and gyros. And of course there are the appetizers every Greek restaurant needs: caviar, sardines, soused herring and mackerel. Uh, Greek salad too.
Our recommendation: Come on a Thursday evening or Friday noontime, grab a seat in the sun and let the Greek music do the rest – along with a glass of ouzo or raki, of course.
6 Olei Zion St.