Tourist Tip #96 / Dining in the Flea Market After Dark

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It might seem off-putting for a tourist to break bread at a place named after fleas. But if you're looking for a dinner spot with both funk and fantasy, the nighttime ambiance of Jaffa's Shuk Hapishpeshim - the Flea Market - could just fit the bill.

By day, Shuk Hapishpeshim, located a stone's throw from Jaffa's famous Clock Tower Square, is a bustling series of twisting alleys, with stores offering various junk as well as antiques, knick-knacks and restored furniture. It's a wonderland for treasure hunters and hoarders alike, and worth a trip just to test your haggling skills.

When the sun sets, the rugs get rolled up and the second-hand stuff is packed away. And then the marketplace springs back to life in its after-dark incarnation. Candles twinkle at tiny restaurants and cafes, storefronts are lit by lanterns, and the hipster elite of south Tel Aviv flock in for drinks, nibbles and dinner.

Dozens of different cuisines, easily passed by during the heat of the day, can be found at night in the shuk. From pizza to schnitzel to shellfish and bottomless glasses of wine, the variety of gastropubs and bistros here practically guarantees you'll leave satisfied.

While most of the eateries cater to the young and the secular, there is also a kosher Italian spot that is good for families.

Prices range from about NIS 25 to NIS 60 for a starter and NIS 50 to NIS 130 for a main course. With the added cost of alcohol, a night at the shuk can cost a pretty penny. But whether your meal is a bargain or a splurge, the best part of dining in Shuk Hapishpeshim – the atmosphere – is completely free.

The hipster elite of south Tel Aviv flock to the shuk for dinner.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
One man's trash: A vendor at Shuk Hapishpeshim.Credit: Alon Ron

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