We are currently witnessing a welcome boom in vegan restaurants; new ones are cropping up all over the country, especially in the center. Which proves once again that veganism is not a passing trend. It’s no secret that vegan food has a not-very-enticing reputation, but we can say with confidence that the various restaurants are working very hard to prove otherwise. They serve absolutely no animal products and still manage to surprise, offer variety and satisfy an impressive range of tastes, both for vegans and non-vegans. Sometimes the limitations give rise to the most outstanding solutions.
Happy and healthy: Meshek Barzilay
A 12-year-old restaurant that moved from Moshav Yarkona in the Sharon area to an impressive building in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood, this is a good place for anyone who is having trouble deciding about veganism. The restaurant serves vegan, organic, healthy and happy food, as they describe it. Either inside or out on the pleasant balcony, you can find original dishes and surprising taste combinations throughout the day – no small achievement for a place considered a pioneer of the vegan genre.
Almost everything on the menu is produced on site – cheeses made from nuts, various spreads and sauces based on vegetables and legumes, crackers, outstanding desserts (don’t miss the divine pear pie) and more. There are meticulously prepared dishes such as zucchini flowers in tempura with a bean cream filling, a terrine of eggplant and peppers with vegan cheeses, gnocchi with olives, chili, vegan yogurt and nut feta, Indian and Asian dishes, vegan lasagna, veggie burgers and more.
Meshek Barzilay, 6 Ahad Ha’am St., Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv
Mediterranean touch: Umm Kulthum
Chef Asi Delek moved with his wife, Gaya, and their three children to Haifa, and a few months ago opened the Umm Kulthum restaurant – a vegan Mediterranean chef’s restaurant with an emphasis on health. Asi, whose birth name is Hassan, uses flavors from the home-cooked Arab cuisine on which he grew up in Jaffa. On the menu you can find coexistence, with dishes such as hummus, matbukha (a spicy cooked tomato salad), shawarma made from Portobello mushrooms, vegan sinia, lentil patties, vegan lahmajoun (a flat bread topped with meat and vegetables), fresh seasonal salads, as well as pizza, couscous, stuffed vegetables, an Israeli salad and a selection of vegan desserts. Every day they serve specials concocted in the kitchen, based on Asi’s imagination and fresh foods from the market.
Umm Kulthum, 60 Moriah St., Haifa
Varied and up-to-date: Ludens
A popular vegan restaurant that has been open for five years, Ludens is offering new dishes for the summer, along with a wide variety of classic dishes that already have a regular group of fans. The new menu includes dishes such as a burrito with seitan (a meat substitute made with wheat gluten) and guacamole sauce; a Portobello burrito, a vegan hamburger called a Buddha Burger and a “schnitzel” roll made from pieces of seitan and stir-fried with tofu and silan.
The restaurant is located in the Ra’anana industrial zone and attracts hungry vegan workers from all over the area; it also offers a delivery service. The menu includes fresh salads and pastas with a variety of sauces.
Ludens, 1 Hamasger St., Ra’anana
A Georgian celebration: Nanutchka
Any discussion of vegan restaurants must include Nanutchka – the first Georgian vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv and apparently the first of its kind in the world. It started out in the 1990s as Nana Schreier’s Nana Bar, where the happy Georgian, together with her then-partner, had patrons dancing on the tables. It later became Nanutchka and about four years ago Nana decided to change direction and adopt vegan cuisine. This was a risk because Georgian cuisine is based on meat, fish, eggs and other animal products. The gamble paid off and celebrants continue to arrive en masse, to be happy, drink, dance and eat well, too. The historic building is divided into four seating areas (a garden, a well-stocked bar, a gallery floor and an indoor seating area), where delicacies from traditional Georgian cuisine are served in vegan interpretations.
You’ll find dolma – grape leaves filled with rice and herbs, roasted in the oven with raw tahini and cherry tomatoes; khinkali, dumplings made from a delicate dough with a large choice of fillings, including truffles, chestnuts, pumpkin or spinach and nuts; khachapuri; vegan pilaf and more.
Nanutchka, 30 Lilienblum St., Tel Aviv
Neighborhood surprise: EcO Bar
Nobody leaves Igor’s EcO Bar in Florentin hungry. Maybe that’s what remains from his previous career as a butcher. Yes, that’s right: once a professional butcher, Igor made a life change and decided to open a restaurant that serves aesthetic, healthful and 100 percent vegan dishes. There is a vegan Jerusalem mixed grill with soy protein, Portobello mushrooms, cauliflower, tofu, spinach, onion and garlic, with or without a tortilla (made from sprouted green spelt); various hot dishes, well-made sandwiches, salads, soups, spreads, natural juices, excellent desserts and even filling and interesting hot cereals, all in a pleasant neighborly atmosphere.
EcO Bar, 21 Vital St., Tel Aviv
Three branches: Tevaleh
Tevaleh has branches in Kfar Sava, Tel Aviv and Rishon Letzion, all offering a healthy vegan menu that meets the strict standards of the vegan-friendly organization. At Tevaleh they serve a superb breakfast with whole wheat bread (gluten-free is also available) and a rich selection of excellent spreads, including a marvelous almond labneh and a roasted onion cream, beet tahini, green tahini, pesto and avocado. There is a rich vegetable salad; fruit salad; a delicious acai fruit bowl with fresh fruits, acai cream, home-made granola, nuts and a tasty variety of additions such as raw tahini, cocoa or berries; satisfying shakes containing a large number of superfoods such as chia, spirulina, goji berries, ginger, nuts and kale; and sandwiches including vegan sabich, seitan shawarma, burger patties, toast with vegan cheeses, salads, muesli and a large number of other healthful and fresh vegan dishes.
54 Weizmann St., Kfar Sava
81 Rothschild St., Rishon Letzion
106 Bograshov St., Tel Aviv
The café version: Anastasia
A Tel Aviv café full of positive vibes and strictly vegan food. They serve a rich breakfast with bread, dips, spreads, salad, a hummus flour omelet and drinks; sandwiches with fillings such as avocado, seared tofu, spreads and vegetables; vegan shakshuka, salads, soups, stir-fried foods, pastas, interesting desserts like vegan Kit-Kat, morning baked goods, pralines and so on. It’s worth studying the huge drinks menu – ranging from organic coffee to green shakes and healthy drinks such as lemon spirulina and carob ice.
Anastasia, 54 Frishman St., Tel Aviv
A few more worthwhile options
Bana – A colorful new restaurant at 36 Nahmani Street in Tel Aviv, offering an interesting vegan menu that maintains the quality of the raw ingredients and pays a lot of respect to fresh and unusual vegetables.
Goodness – a vegan diner that opened a few months ago at 41 King George Street in Tel Aviv. You will find light dishes with an American touch, such as hamburgers, tortillas, sloppy joes, sweet crepes and more.
Abraham Hostel culinary tour – If you have vegan guests from abroad or want to become familiar with the vegan options in Tel Aviv, the Abraham Hostel at 21 Levontin Street offers a tour of vegan restaurants in the city.