Tel Aviv Bars That Raise the Bar

In Israel’s thirsty sin city, these seven hot new bars and clubs are turning up the heat.

Winter may not be as cold in Tel Aviv as it is in other parts, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel a chill here once in a while. And there’s no better remedy to long, dark nights and the snap of a cool breeze than a body-warming cocktail. The saucier the taproom, the better. So if you’re in search of a tipple to ward off the winter blues, check out these red-hot additions to Tel Aviv’s bar and night-owl scene.

Wonderland

In “Alice in Wonderland,” the Cheshire Cat asks Alice where she is headed. She answers that the destination doesn’t matter much, as long as she gets there.

"Oh you're sure to do that if you only walk long enough," says the cat. And Wonderland, a new concept-based club in central Tel Aviv, will likely cut that distance by half.

From the creators of Club YaYa, Dizengoff Bar, Whisky a Go-Go, Markid and Gazoz, Allenby 58 and Lemon, comes Wonderland, a spectacular, fantastically-designed club inspired by the journey of young Miss Alice herself.

A visit to Wonderland is a real trip down the rabbit hole. The venue, with a giant chessboard for a floor, a DJ booth lodged in a massive tea cup, and walls fitted with distorted clocks and brain-tripping video clips on an endless loop, could teach Lewis Carroll a thing or two about the meaning of the word “psychedelic.” If all the boogeying gets you craving for something that says “eat me,” the restaurant upstairs will send down appetizers.

When the summer heat comes, Wonderland takes a break and shuts its doors, so you might want to take a page from the White Rabbit and hurry over. After all, “will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?”

Vibe: The Promised Land

Who: Party people

Sex Appeal: Director's cut of "Jersey Shore"

Prices: Carlsberg - NIS 31; Tuborg - NIS 32; Stella Artois - NIS 33. Chasers: arak – NIS 21; vodka – NIS 26; whiskey – NIS 24
Munchies: Bar food (edamame, carpaccio and chips with salsa) – NIS 25 – 45

Wonderland, 8 Ha'arba'a St.

OCD

We Tel Avivians are a compulsive bunch, and it's about time we came clean about it. We are nightlife junkies, addicted to the midnight thrills, so Obsessive Club Disorder – OCD – is the perfect place for us to get a few hits.

This is a place that reeks of youth. It’s filled with the beautiful people, the folks why pay attention to detail. The bar and mini-kiosk at the entrance both beckon, but the main draw here is a courtyard that could double as a movie set for a film about a summer party in Brazil. Dozens of small lamps flood light into a color-drenched space. At the center of the bar, a flowing fountain gurgles. There is a giant drawing by local artist Pilpeled, and beautiful, leggy folks flip their hair and flex their toned loins as they pass between the courtyard and the enclosed interior. From Monday through Saturday, the sounds of electronica, hip-hop and old-school hits fill the air.

Vibe: Arrythmia

Who: Us

Sex Appeal: Free Love

Prices: Pint of Goldstar - NIS 28; Pint of Heineken - NIS 30. Chasers: arak - NIS 22; vodka - NIS 26; whiskey - NIS 26.

Munchies: Grill-flavored Bissli and other, lesser-known snacks from Israel and around the world - NIS 5.

OCD, 42 Lilienblum St.

Zuyfer

"Where should have a beer tonight?" is a pretty common refrain in Tel Aviv, but hardly do you hear “Let’s go to Ramat HaHayal,” a precinct on Tel Aviv’s northern edge, as the response. The bars of this posh area used to be haunted pretty exclusively by locals, but Zuyfer has arrived and is shaking things up.

Squatting on the commercial drag of Raoul Wallenberg Street, Zuyfer is reminding its neighboring watering holes that geography isn’t destiny. The joint was opened by a group of 25-year-old friends with a fondness for music, meaning this tavern has a sound system to make your ears swoon and a luxurious DJ booth to match.

The monthly set list is determined by resident DJ Keen, who has invited all his friends on the scene to come and play. At the center of the room sits the bar itself, with seating all around and a wide open space to run wild. An outdoor balcony accommodates smokers. If it wasn't so clean outside, after a couple of beers you'd think you were downtown, in the heart of gritty central Tel Aviv.

Vibe: Downtown

Who: Dolls and players

Sex Appeal: Babe magnet

Prices: Maccabi: pint- NIS 24, pitcher - NIS 47; Goldstar: pint - NIS 26, pitcher - NIS 52; Alexander: pint - NIS 28, pitcher - NIS 52. Chasers: arak - NIS 14; vodka - NIS 16; whiskey - NIS 16

Munchies: Garlic pita (made in a real taboon oven) along with house dips - NIS 16; fries - NIS 16; chicken fingers with fries - NIS 29.

Zuyfer, 24 Raul Wallenberg St., Ramat Hahayal

Stopper


Stopper is technically a lesbian bar, but if you’re straight, don’t hesitate. This is a place friendly to all, where the beats don’t stop and the love has no boundaries. The alcohol here is super cheap, but don’t let that fool you: The warm reception and lovely balcony will make you linger far beyond a few guzzled cocktails.
The interior of Stopper boasts a colorful bar, creative seating options, and a tucked-off office space that can only be described as a champagne room for those feeling naughty. On Tuesdays, Stopper hosts the Mizrahi music party “Bekapim,” but the rest of the week they offer music of every stripe and color.

Vibe: Straight-friendly

Who: The fairer sex dominates

Sex Appeal: Girls just wanna have fun.

Prices: Chasers - NIS 10

Munchies: Soup of the day with bread - NIS 22; pie and Grandma's pickles - NIS 19; personal pizza - NIS 25.

Stopper, 23 Lilienblum St.

Morfium

Tel Avivians are flocking to the area around Shaul Hamelech Street, and on most nights now, this once sleepy spot pulses with the energy and music of hundreds of party-hungry hordes. The new kid on the block these days is Morfium. If you manage to get past the entrance, you will discover a real spectacle. The entire place was designed to promote the on-stage DJ, with no pennies spared on lighting and dancers facing the music-makers as they shimmy away. Seating corners and small bars are spread out around the place, but it's hard to make out anything among all the bumping-and-grinding people.

Vibe: Hard to live down

Who: Commuter

Sex Appeal: Drug-soaked

Prices: Beers- NIS 31-37

Munchies: Finger food (edamame, tortilla chips and pizza)

Morfium, 2 Shaul Hamelech St.

Conejo

Just when we thought we'd sung the requiem for Nahalat Binyamin Street, it stands on its hind legs and lives again, just like the alley cats prowling its surrounding streets. Among the tony restaurants and sweet bars that have recently popped up in this dark pocket of old Tel Aviv stands the pub Conejo, perhaps the most important of them all.

Conejo (“little rabbit” in Spanish) is the kid brother of the pub Zaichik (“little rabbit” in Russian), which lives just next door. Its owners dreamed of a spot where the food is home-cooked from their South American roots, and they have made that dream come true. Doors open in the afternoon, ready to serve the hungry and quench the thirsty, just like their abuelitas once did.

Vibe: The chili trail

Who: Chicos and chicas

Sex Appeal: Come here often?

Prices: Pavo from the tap: quarter pint - NIS 21, half pint - NIS 28

Munchies: Chili con carne- NIS 45; beef milanesa - NIS 49; arroz con pollo (chicken stew with root vegetables) - NIS 38.

Conejo, 46 Nahalat Binyamin St.

Main Bazaar

Care to travel to India, but don’t want to pay the plane fare? Then pop over to the flea market in Jaffa and step into this new bar, which will whisk you away to Hindustan and pack a touch of alcohol, a bit of piano and plenty of style into your carry-on.

Main Bazaar, opened by several India-obsessed friends, has flipped conventional design concepts on their head. In addition to the Indian theme, the bar tops have been replaced with pianos, the seating is intimate, and warm, dusty lamps hang from the ceiling. The bathroom harkens back to another era, with historic newspaper clippings papering the walls. The place has a rotating schedule of DJs, theme evenings and other treats. The best time to visit, though, is during happy hour, between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Vibe: Chill

Who: Good people on the middle path

Prices: Beers: 1/3 pint of Maccabi - NIS 17; 1/3 pint of Goldstar - NIS 18; 1/3 pint of Paulaner - NIS 21; 1/3 pint of Murphy's - NIS 21. Chasers: arak - NIS 10; vodka - NIS 14; whiskey - NIS 12

Munchies: Fries, Mediterranean cauliflower, eggplant and cheese, and corned beef: each NIS 20; chocolate and petits beurres - NIS 12.

Main Bazaar, Alley 3350 in the Jaffa Flea Market

Amir Yacobi
Dror Katz, courtesy of rest.co.il