An olive shop at the Hatikva Market in Tel Aviv. Rotem Maimon

A Culinary Tour of Tel Aviv's Most Underrated Market

Superb kubbeh, awesome hummus, all kinds of grilled meats on skewers, not to mention nuts and sweets – Tel Aviv's Hatikva Market is a culinary gem waiting to be discovered

Maybe it’s a matter of publicity and accessibility, but between the reviving Levinsky Market and the Hacarmel Market, already a tourist magnet, the Hatikva Market remains an underdog that’s not striving to impress anyone. It’s cheaper than Hacarmel and certainly more spacious, and although you won’t yet find stylish little places packed with young people, like you do at Levinsky, the Hatikva Market offers an unpretentious shopping experience and some of the best fare you’ll find anywhere in Tel Aviv.

The Hatikva Market was built in the mid-1930s as a response to the Arab Revolt, when residents of the village of Salama stopped coming to the neighborhood to sell their goods. What began with a few produce stalls put up by local residents of Iraqi, Yemeni, Syrian and Iranian background grew into a sprawling market spread out along the triangle of Ha’Etzel, Hahagana and Hatikva Streets. Thirteen years ago, the market was renovated in an effort to attract more shoppers and make it more accessible to locals and tourists. It’s no secret that the market and the neighborhood frequently are sources of unflattering stories related to the new mix of residents in the neighborhood, but if you can leave the news reports and any prejudices aside, you’ll find a lively and authentic place that is definitely worth a visit – especially now, before the PR machines try to turn it into another soulless cash cow.

Where to shop

The big surprise at the Hatikva Market are the stands that specialize in just one product, like olives or pitas or amba. There are also quite a number of small bakeries from a whole spectrum of ethnic backgrounds – Yemenite, Iraqi, Georgian – as well as stands that sell fresh rolls at very low prices, and sourdough breads as well. And there are many wandering peddlers offering sambusak, ices, pomegranate juice or lemonade for just five shekels: This market offers a tour of aromas and flavors, in addition to shopping.

Alma Elliott Hoffman

Ilanit’s Deli

This small family-run stand was opened five years ago by neighborhood natives Ilanit and Koby Yosef. At first they mainly sold fries, stuffed vegetables and salads. Word quickly spread, and the business grew to include Ilanit’s marvelous home cooking. Last year, the couple moved to a large space in the market and added some local friends to the staff. Now their business offers a very wide selection of ready-made foods to take home – all kinds of stuffed vegetables (carrots, onions, mini-eggplants, vegan stuffed cabbage and more), vegan patties, meatballs, kubbeh with rice, kubbeh with beets, and of course – Iraqi kubbeh, the dish the shop is known for. On Fridays, twice as many dishes are on offer, including roast beef, couscous, chreimeh, stuffed chicken, baked salmon, cigars, chicken and fish schnitzel, excellent stuffed grape leaves and a large selection of vegan foods.

20 Hatikva Street; Tuesday - Wednesday 7 A.M.- 5 P.M., Thursday 7 A.M.- 6 P.M., Friday 4 A.M.- 5 P.M.

Alma Elliott Hoffman

Uzi’s Cookies

Close to the entrance to the market you can’t miss the impressive bakery run by Uzi Zefadia, which has been in business here for almost 20 years. Here you’ll find what seems like an endless selection of sweet and savory cookies – with strawberry jam, chocolate, sesame, poppy seeds and more – as well as a huge selection of pastries in every shape and form – super-fresh burekas filled with cheese, spinach, potato or mushrooms, and sweet pastries like classic chocolate rugelach and mini-croissants filled with cheese or vanilla cream, to name just a few. Almost everything is baked on the premises. There are plans to open a seating area and counter where you’ll be able to order Turkish burekas with yogurt on the side and other treats made in the bakery.

8 Hatikva Street; Sunday -Thursday 7 A.M. - 7 P.M., Friday 7 A.M. until one hour before Shabbat.

Alma Elliott Hoffman

Shadi’s nuts

Among the numerous market stands selling sweets and nuts is a branch of this excellent chain, which opened in the market six years ago. Here you’ll find dried fruits, tahini, granola snacks, jelly candies and coated candies in every shape and color. Besides the store’s famous roasted cashews, there is also an amazing selection of roasted nuts and seeds (shelled and unshelled, roasted and unroasted) that come straight from the factory in Bil’in.

19 Hatikva Street; Sunday - Tuesday 8 A.M. - 3 P.M., Wednesday - Thursday 8 A.M. - 4 P.M., Friday 8 A.M.- 4 P.M.

Salumi Butcher Shop

Until five years ago, there was a little restaurant in the market, called Salumi’s kebab, that served the best kebab around. The restaurant is gone now, but Salumi’s butcher shop, now on its third generation, is still in business in one of the market’s alleyways. There you can buy the splendid kebabs to take home and other excellent cuts of meat – whatever you need for your home barbecue.

1 Nuriel Street, Monday - Thursday 7 A.M. - 6 P.M., Friday 7 A.M. - 3 P.M.

Na’ama’s Spices

Another place that over the years has become an institution in the market. Na’ama’s spices was started in 1963 by Na’ama Ovadia, a neighborhood resident who sold spices and nuts. Later a roasting house was added, where her famous spices and nuts are made before being shipped all over the country. This huge place offers a golden opportunity to buy pretty much everything in the way of spices, sweets, chocolates, candies, nuts and dried fruits, all sold by weight.

4 Hamevaser Street; Sunday - Thursday 8 A.M. - 8 P.M., Friday 6:30 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.

Alma Elliott Hoffman

Amiga Deli

Yitzhak Amiga opened his small convenience store in 1950. Today the place has grown into a large deli and shop where you can find just about anything. But with all due respect to the numerous other delicatessens in the market, the main attraction here is the amba – big tubs of amba in various stages of preparation and the intoxicating aroma of mango. You’ll also find a wide selection of wonderful pickles, olives, cheese, halvah, herring, sausages, cigars and other savory stuffed pastries.

8 Nuriel Street, Sunday-Wednesday 6 A.M. - 7:30 P.M., Friday 5 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.

Rotem Maimon

Buchari bread bakery

What a pleasant surprise right at the edge of the market. This family bakery has been in operation since 1996 and has two main specialties: lepyoshka – a round Bucharan bread with a thin center, and beef sambusak. In addition, there’s tuki – a Bucharan pita that’s somewhere between a matza and a cracker; it is supplied from here to many restaurants and banquet halls. If you ask nicely for a glimpse of the brick oven, you’ll appreciate the thin line separating heaven from hell when you take in the sight of 100 loaves baking at 200 degrees.

52 Hanoch Street; Sunday -Thursday 7 A.M.- 5 P.M., Friday 7 A.M.- 4:30 P.M.

Alma Elliott Hoffman

Deli on Ha’Etzel Street

This small, nameless establishment has been around since the ‘90s, but eight years ago current owner Rosie Melech took over and revolutionized the place. Here you’ll mainly find a vast selection of cheeses (most made with whole milk and without preservatives) that come straight from the manufacturers, which include small local producers as well as some of the well-known dairies. There are also Italian pastas and sauces, fresh and smoked fish and gluten-free pastas made from chickpeas or lentils).

2 Ha’Etzel Street; Monday - Thursday 8 A.M.- 6 P.M., Friday 8 A.M. until two hours before Shabbat

Where to eat

The Hatikva neighborhood is a largely unknown culinary gem. Not that there are fancy chef restaurants, but you will find plenty of homestyle food of a kind you hardly see anywhere else, dishes that could easily vie for the title of “tastiest in town.” Yes, Ha’Etzel Street is filled with eateries that rate a tour on their own, but here we’re focusing on the market itself and everything it has to offer.

Rotem Maimon

HaSalouf Bakery

Promise us you won’t eat anything before you go to HaSalouf. Here you’ll find all the traditional Yemenite foods – kubana, salouf, jahnoun, lahuh and malawah, all of them delicious. You have two options: The first is to take some food home and eat it there in peace and quiet. Or, even better, grab a spot at the wooden bar, order one of the aforementioned items or pick something else from the menu, like shakshuka, soup or a salad. We went for the kubana with egg and crushed tomato. It was soft and airy, like a fine brioche, and absolutely hit the spot.

1 Hatikva Street; Sunday - Wednesday 7 A.M. - 7 P.M., Thursday from 7 A.M.- Friday one hour before Shabbat

Zeitun

The first hummus place in the market opened five years ago when two brothers who worked in New York restaurants and a friend of theirs from the neighborhood joined forces. It just moved to a new location in the center of the market, offering especially good hummus (be sure to try the hummus with Portobello mushrooms), all kinds of kubbeh – beet, okra, bulgur, fried kubbeh, yellow kubbeh and more, as well as various pita sandwiches (schnitzel, omelet, sabich).

22 Hatikva Street, corner of 24 Hodaya Street; Sunday - Thursday 10 A.M. - 5 P.M., Friday 10 A.M.-2:30 P.M.

Alma Elliott Hoffman

Fuls

This inviting hummus restaurant has only been on the scene here since March 2017, but the location has been in owner Yuval Shimshi’s family since the 1930s. His father, “one of the Yemenites who built the shuk,” according to Yuval and his wife Michal, opened a deli that went through several incarnations before becoming a hummus restaurant (Michal’s mother and her friend Tzipi are also part of the staff). There are no French fries, but there’s a terrific shakshuka and chopped salad, and you won’t want to miss the main attraction here, the “trio” – masbaha, ful and hummus. The service and atmosphere are very pleasant too.

10 Hatikva Street, Sunday - Friday 7:30 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.

Shaul Mutzafi restaurant

It’s a common subject of debate around here as to where to find the best grilled meats on skewers (shipudim). Not an easy question to resolve, especially when you have two excellent places right across from one another – the original Shemesh Grill and Shaul Mutzafi, where kebab is king. The Shaul Mutzafi restaurant was opened in 1951 by Ephraim Mutzafi. His son Shaul later took over the reins. Besides the kebabs, you can enjoy any other grilled meat you like, including lamb, hearts and sweetbreads.

15 Hamevaser Street, Sunday-Thursday 11 A.M.-11 P.M.

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