Nov 11, 2012

The beauty and the beast of living in Tel Aviv

Whether you’ve lived here for 15 years or are visiting for the week, Tel Aviv exudes a unique personality that is both gleefully intoxicating and unnervingly independent.  It is a hub of opportunity with a bubble of limited access.  It is a metropolitan epicenter and a little-big city.  A city that never sleeps and could be a country of its own.

There are pros and cons to every city, every town, every village in the world.  No one place is universally flawless or disastrous.  I’ve lived in Tel Aviv for two months now, and I thought I’d share some of my experiences from the light and the dark sides of my stay.

Israeli attitude:
Pro: This has more to do with Israel in general, but since Tel Aviv is such a busy city, I’m face-to-face with more each day.  Israelis are very blunt.  They say what the feel, whether good or bad.  There is no beating around the bush.  I’ve always fought off some stage fright just before I make a phone call for an interview (it always goes away once I begin), but living in Tel Aviv has helped my desire to pull a Forest Gump and run away before I ask an obvious question or ask for someone I don’t know on the phone.
Con: The concept of constructive criticism just doesn’t exist.  If you do something wrong, you’re going to know.  If you’re used to hearing something like, “I like the way you were taking this, but maybe try this direction instead,” get ready for, “That’s not what I want, do it again.”  As long as you have a tough skin, this doesn’t necessarily have to be such a bad thing.

Grocery shopping:
Pro: I live about 10 minutes from HaCarmel Market.  I love walking there and coming home with fresh produce hanging from bags on my arms, sometimes full from a 3 shekel mint-lemonade or carrot juice.  The culture of the large-scale marketplace is new to me; I couldn’t get that in my 100,000-person hometown in Florida.  I have a pita guy, a tomato guy and an onion guy.  To cook dinner each night, all I have to do is walk down the street and take my pick.
Con: If you get annoyed by large crowds walking at a snail’s pace, try to avoid the market on Fridays.  I usually can’t because that’s when the work week ends.  But that’s when everyone’s work week ends.  Get there early for the good produce, and expect to take longer than during the rest of the week.  It would be a great time to go watch everyone swarm the stands, but if you’re going to shop, expect to walk into a few carts when the person in front of you simply stops walking.

Pro: Well, it’s bacon.
Con: I don’t eat pork in the States.  It was my reminder of and connection to Israel and being Jewish.  However, since I’ve been here, I’ve ignored that concept.  Several people have told me it doesn’t matter because I live in Israel, so why do I need to prove to myself that I’m Jewish?  I guess not by whether or not I eat bacon.  And it tastes so good.

The new workweek:
Pro: Since we work Sunday through Thursday here, Monday is almost Humpday!  I have time to do my errands on Friday, which can be crowded, but it gives me all day Saturday to relax.  Even though I work the same number of days per week, it feels shorter.  The workplace is generally more informal, too.  You’re judged based on your work and your initiative instead of your attire and formality.
Con: Saturday is a weeknight.  That took some getting used to.  I usually only get up early on a Sunday morning to go to the beach or grill outside.  The weekend does feel shorter sometimes if Friday is taken up with rushing to get my errands done before Shabbat.

My living conditions:
Pro: I live on King George Street, about five minutes from Dizengoff Center.  I could not have asked for a more central location.  Anything I want is within stumbling distance or a short walk.  Feeling spontaneous?  I’ll stroll down the street after a coffee or bourekas for some shopping.  Or to Dizengoff Mall.  Or Shenkin Street.  Feeling low on funds after a spontaneous shopping trip?  I’ll swing by the six-shekel falafel stand for dinner.  Or any type of restaurant I may crave.  Feeling a lack of melanin?  The beach is calling and is only a 20-minute walk away.
Con: If you couldn’t tell from the previous description, I have no money.  But I live in a huge city, so that can be expected.  However, my daily rant usually involves pointing out that my window is facing King George.  To say it’s loud may be an understatement.  Every bus, every scooter, every car, every screaming drunk person walking home at night.  I tried to watch a video with a friend, and she asked if we could close the window so she could hear.  I though the bottom of her jaw might fall off when she realized the window was closed.  It’s just that loud.  My kitchen also consists of a sink and a hot plate that turns off when it gets too hot.  Needless to say, home-cooking has been interesting.  Vegetables and chicken are easy, but meals with multiple parts to cook must been done one at a time.
When dinner must be made using one hot plate, it's best to make it a potluck to involve multiple hot plates.
Like this!  You can manage a nice Rosh Hashanah meal with minimal cooking conditions.

So, yes, there are some cons to every pro.  And I’m sure I’m going to experience new comparisons in the coming months to add to this list.  However, I love Tel Aviv, and since you’re reading a blog about Tel Aviv, hopefully that means you love something about it, too.  The pros beat the cons, whether it’s food, work, people or living.  So keep it coming Tel Aviv; I’m ready.

Oct 30, 2012

Follow this recipe video to make a delicate chocolate beet cake. Naturally moist and just the right amount of sweet. 

Jul 5, 2012

You Know You're in Israel When...

There is a phenomenon that has swept Israeli beaches. I can not tell you historically how long this phenomenon has been around for, but I can say, it doesn’t look like it’s leaving any time soon. It’s called “matkot”, and at first, it seems like the Israeli national sport. But I think there’s more to this game than meets the eye. 

Matkot is essentially ping-pong without the table. The paddles and ball are a bit larger, and the game is often more intense. There is no way to avoid matkot on the beach. Usually men play it at the very edge of the shore so that you have to dodge matkot balls in order to get into the waves. (In fact, I’ve been hit quite a few times, leaving glorious bruises on my arms. If only they weren’t so rough...) You can’t fall asleep in the sun without the sounds of the balls hitting the wooden paddles. And of course, it is impossible to not watch the men at play. Why? You know the answer. If there’s anything Israeli men do better than flashing you a smile and delivering a hopeless pickup line, it’s playing matkot. 

"Matkot" injuries. : )

Their sweaty bodies drip with each smack of the matkot ball. They grunt as they reach for a hit. And then when the ball drops... well they have to bend down to get it, naturally. (And since most of them are wearing underwear as bathing suits, it’s usually a good show.) 
But I think there is more to matkot than some athletic sport. In fact, I think matkot is a plumage demonstration, a peacock show if you will. It gives the men an opportunity to show off, not only their skills, but their bodies. And it works! Because how do we respond, ladies? We sit and we watch! (And we drool, and we breathe hard, and we stutter when our friends try to elicit responses from us.)

We whisper to our friends, “Oh, he is CUTE!” And after each ball drops we stick out our chest, flip our hair, and pray, “look at me, look at me, please look at me”, as they run over to get the ball, without giving us the smallest glance. Another missed opportunity. 

To the ladies who sit and watch matkot all day, with the prayer that one of these studs will put down the paddle and sweep you off your feet... you’ve been sitting in the sun too long. This won’t happen; stop waiting for him to come to you. The days of lying on your towels and waiting for your hunk of Middle Eastern glory to notice you are no more. There are hundreds of girls just like us on the beach, nothing differentiating us from the beautiful Israeli girl lying next to us. (Except for the fact that she is a beautiful Israeli girl. And since she will steal the show... get up and do something!) 

So here is it, my solution to your daydreaming woes: volleyball. I realize that not everyone has the “bump-set-spike” down pat. Don’t worry about it, this is not about your skills. It’s about... your feathers. You’re going to want to make sure that you do NOT play this game in your t-shirt. Remember, this is about sticking out... so stick them out! Take your hair down, head into the shallow water, and with a friend, commence the game. 

Since you are in the shallow water, you will be awfully close to those matkot men. The ball will roll away, and they will have to stop to get it for you. Furthermore, now that there is actually something to watch other than matkot, many eyes will be on you. Put on a smile. Let the ball fall in the water as you crash into the waves. Say “todah” when your knight in shining armor rescues the rogue ball for you. And when you are done, walk back to your towel, lie down... and wait. They’ll be there in a few minutes. 

Gentlemen, the beach is the world’s largest catwalk. And I’ll be damned if I let you steal this show. So, ladies, when you have to compete with delicious Israeli men, grab the bigger balls (the volleyball that is) and assume the position. You'll get the attention you want. Don’t forget to dodge the matkot balls on the way into the shore. They will be there; that’s how you know you’re in Israel.

Jul 4, 2012

Cooking with ONE Hot Plate

If you've just moved to Israel, will only be staying for a short time, or simply haven't gotten around to buying a stove... you'll want to know how to cook with nothing but a hot plate (which is likely the only thing you have). Fortunately, I've created a video that details the perfect hot plate meal, and what you can do with your extra time while that meal cooks. (For the record, "Beit Leni" is the name of an apartment building in Tel Aviv. This will make more sense once you watch the video.)

Enjoy this short clip, and of course... "beteavon"!

Jul 2, 2012

Baby Bites: Child friendly places to eat in Tel Aviv

Cafe Sonya
Simtat Almonit (off King George) Tel Aviv

Highchair availability: Yes
Price: Moderate
Kosher: Not Kosher

Ahhh, Summer in Tel Aviv. Whether you are a native or an import, it means one thing for sure: guests. There are always weddings and occasions in Israel over the Summer that means overseas guests will be around and about and of course, need to sample the local fare, but not in a falafel/shwarma sort of way - more in an ice coffee, limonana barad sort of way. For anyone who has made an international trek with a toddler on board, they deserve the very best, most relaxing experience possible. 

Now, everyone always wants to go to the landmark places; Dizengoff, Sheinkin, Shuk HaCarmel. That's fine. But when you need a bit relief from the sun and craziness, Cafe Sonya offers quite a treat. It's a beautiful, very family friendly little oasis just down the road from all of these ventures. Located on a tiny alleyway called Simtat Almonit, just off always-manic King George Street, Sonya offers a huge, shaded courtyard out the back of a small storefront where you can enjoy a wide range of goodies, with an excellent kids menu too. 

On my most recent visit a few weeks ago, I was with my son and had met with friends of mine visiting from Australia with their 1.5 year old in tow, or "Hurricane Tal" as they liked to refer to him. We had just been at the shuk and were looking for some cool, quiet, tasty relief. The staff immediately showed us to a table out the back with ample space for both strollers. Though it was a little difficult to move them around the stone covered courtyard, we could be sure they weren't going anywhere. They brought us menus in both Hebrew and English and again, like any good place should, brought water straight away. A particularly lovely element of Sonya is their kids menu, which is part of the larger menu and has some really cute drawings in it. Often, kids menus can mean staple crap - plain noodles, shnitzel (or nuggets) and chips - Sonya instead offers the kind of food you would rather see your kids eat -  sliced veggies and a hardboiled egg or omlet, toasted cheese sandwiches on whole wheat (which my little one devoured), sliced fruit, and shoko (chocolate milk) in those awesome plastic cups everyone had when they were little with the inbuilt straws. So three iced coffees, a toastie and a shoko later, we were set. 

I have the privilege of a kid who likes to sit on my lap and eat. Most likely just because he isn't quite walking yet so eating is the next most fun thing to do. My friends' son, however, IS already walking and is super curious and excited, so he was enjoying the garden and his shoko on-the-go. No problem; the staff helped him navigate his way around and gave him a napkin to wipe off his milk moustache. When the little explorer came and joined us for a cuddle and some toastie, we managed to have a little accident with the shoko. My son loved it, licking the sweet treat off his hands and sucking on his shirt. I was just drenched. The staff was great; they came to help clean me and my handbag off and even refilled the little monkey's shoko because he lost a bit of it. The way it should be. Truly family friendly with a smile!

Sonya's menu is diverse and delicious; their shakshuka, lasagne and salads, from my experience, are always fresh and beautifully presented, and they offer several kinds of each, as well as vast array of huge sandwiches, gorgeous cakes and a variety of other baked goods. They also have a great breakfast and strong, fresh coffee, all set upon a bright and colorful stage with stylish Tel-Aviv vintage architecture in the background. As a mum, this a quite a nice place to be able to eat and relax and take a quick breather from the madness of the city just outside of the shaded walls of the courtyard. Although not the most immediately accessible place for a bite, its a great "hidden secret" amongst the many little laneways and side streets that so often get missed by tourists in the grander scheme of enjoying the city for a few days. Highly recommended with or without guests or kids, but totally worthwhile for both as well.


Written by Kassandra Grunewald; Photos by Karen Cohen.



In celebration of #pieweek, we thought we would add a twist by posting one of our favorite recipes. This recipe is meant to please a crowd and is just as good warm, room temperature, and even cold. We love the elegant aroma of the rosemary to make this pear danish an unforgettable treat.

Adapted Recipe from Contest Winner on Food52 by hardlikearmour


Recipe Calls for a 13x9 inch pan, but we didn't have one so I did some research* and found out that you can also use two 9' pans. This way we can make two and share :)  Before you decide to go this route, make sure two 9' pans will fit in your oven at one time - otherwise you'll have to do rounds.

Mathematical Research

The volume of a 13x9' pan is 9*13*1.5 = 175.5 
Volume of a 9' round pan is 3.14*4.52*1.5 = 95 

-- So a 9' round pan will hold about half the batter of a 13x9' pan.

RosePear_TasteTLV_05Onto the goods


1 cup unsalted butter, chilled

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 large egg


Pear Rosemary filling:

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pounds firm-ripe pears

1 Granny Smith apple

2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 to 4 teaspoons sugar


2 tablespoons unsalted butter



1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half


  1. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and place in the freezer. 

  2. RosePear_TasteTLV_07

  3. Chop enough rosemary for the crust and filling. Preheat your oven to 400º F with a rack in the lower middle position. (Can't chop too small)

  4. Combine sugar, salt, and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 60 seconds to further break up the rosemary, and infuse the sugar with the oil. (Chop in short bursts to let the oil infuse) Add the flour and process for 20 seconds. 

  5. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture, then pulse to combine, about 12 to 15 one-second pulses. The mixture should resemble wet sand, with some pea-sized pieces of butter. (this took us a bit longer - depending on the strength of your machine). Transfer mixture to a medium sized bowl.

  6. In a small bowl whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons of water to combine.

  7. Sprinkle the egg mixture over the flour mixture and fold to combine. Use your hands to mix and bring the dough together. You may need to add another tablespoon or so of water to get the dough to come together. It is a fairly soft dough, but it should not be overly sticky.

  8. Divide the dough into 2 unequal portions, the larger being about 2/3 of the dough. Wrap the smaller portion in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

  9. Flour your counter top or a piece of parchment paper. Use a generous amount of flour to prevent the dough from sticking from the counter. Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking to the rolling pin. Roll the larger portion of the dough out into a rectangle that is large enough to fit into the bottom, and up and slightly over the sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan. (About 17 to 18 inches by 13 to 14 inches.)

  1. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin, then transfer the dough to your pan by unrolling it off. (very useful tip) Press into the bottom and sides of the dough into the pan. If needed patch tears with some of the dough overhang or by pressing together with your fingers. 

  2. Set pan aside, and make your filling.

Pear Rosemary filling: 
  1. Quarter and core pears. Cut each quarter into 4 or 5 chunks. Place in medium sized bowl.

  2. Grate apple on the large holes of a box grater into the bowl containing the pears. Add the rosemary, lemon zest and juice, sugar. Toss until well combined.

  3. Transfer pear mixture to the prepared crust. Distribute evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Dot with butter, and set aside.

  1. Roll smaller piece of crust dough into a 13- by 9-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Transfer to the top of the pear mixture. Fold or roll the bottom crust over the top crust and flute the edges or use a fork to press the edges. Dock the surface of the crust with a fork.

  2. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, turning the danish 180º after 25 to 30 minutes. The edges of the crust should be nicely browned and the top of the crust should be golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

  1. Whisk the glaze ingredients together, and drizzle over the danish after it has been cooling for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool at least several hours or overnight before cutting and serving.
B'te Avon!



Jun 25, 2012

Baby Bites: Child friendly places to eat in Tel Aviv

Cafe Zorik, Milano Square ( 4 Yehuda Maccabi Street) North Tel Aviv

Indoor/Shaded area:
Highchair availability: Yes
Price: Moderate
Kosher: Not Kosher

North Tel Aviv is babytown. Literally. At any given time of day, you'll either see parents pushing strollers, kids coming to and from gan and school, mitaplot pushing those massive baby cages on wheels (it's called a lul) and all sorts of assorted other forms of baby transportation (smart trikes, baby bjorns, leashes, what have you). As you might imagine, there's quite a need for coffee and a bite for these parents who spend a lot of their day transporting baby around in one form or another. As such, there's no shortage of cafes available to the caffeine-worthy sleep deprived. A very popular haunt for parents with little ones is Cafe Zorik, situated right on Kikar Milano at the very beginning of Yehuda Maccabi Street, visible from Ibn Gvirol. 

The cafe itself has a very young, lounge-feel to it; great for those of us baby-movers wishing to reclaim what feels like a distant youth. An eclectic mix of tables, high bar tables with stools, vintage couches and even a wood carved "waiting bench" just outside the cafe furnish the joint. The walls are decorated with a series of old ads, some artwork, mirrors and a computer circa 1998 waiting for anyone wishing to check their hotmail account. Pre-parenthood, we frequented this place a lot because it's like a leafy garden oasis in the middle of the cement desert known as Tel Aviv. Zorik boasts a warm, kibbutz-style atmosphere, water bowls for your dog, treats and smiles for the kids and great coffee for everyone else, giving it a really trendy feel without being pretentious, all at once. 

On my most recent visit there I was meeting with an old friend whom I hadn't caught up with in ages. I entered with my stroller and though it was a little bit of a climb around, it wasn't anything the staff wasn't used to, considering the three other parents with strollers and babies of varying ages sitting right nearby. The staff immediately asked if we needed coffee (duh) and brought water and glasses as well, which often is NOT a given in Israel - the amount of times I have found myself asking for water in a restaurant is ridiculous, but makes sense in a drought stricken region, where water is equivalent to gold and the base water level of Lake Kinneret is often lowered so we don't feel as bad about ourselves. Politics aside, I was impressed with their immediate attention to detail. My son remained asleep throughout the entire experience, angel that he is, so we went about getting ourselves some breakfast, at 2pm. I was still breastfeeding at the time and had to be careful about a few things, such as runny yolks in my eggs, so when they arrived like that, the staff was more than happy to take them back and redo them "kmo shetsarich" (as required) without a fuss. I also was avoiding dairy the time so as not to give my little prince any other gas issues, so the staff happily brought me an extra side of avocado and tuna at my request rather than than the cheeses that usually accompany the breakfast deal. I say this with the utmost seriousness - any place that's willing to alter their breakfast menu on request is solid. Many places won't, which is really a thorn in the side of people who have grown up understanding the service theory of "the customer is always right." I don't always have to be right; I just want what I ask for. If its on the menu and in the kitchen anyway, there's no godly reason why they can't serve it, unless they can't be bothered, which is their right but equally asserts my right to choose not to eat there. In short, Zorik is not one of these lazy places at all, and should be acknowledged and praised for it highly.

Foodwise as a whole, Zorik offers lots of traditional Tel Aviv treats, like an excellent breakfast, mini sandwiches, gorgeous salads, a lovely vegetarian lasagne, fresh juices and for those with a real appetite, an excellent root vegetable and beef goulash, so I have been told by my husband. Their coffee is fantastic and fresh and they have a wide range of delicious cakes and baked goods on offer I am yet to try.  Though a little bit of maze, the staff is more than happy to help you get your stroller through or to bring you a highchair if need be. They will also find your little one ultimately charming as they cry for a breastfeed (not an uncommon sight there) or ask for some shoko and cheese toast. All in all, its a real Tel Aviv gem for a drink or meal, but not the "roomiest" of places if you're coming with several adults or children. Note that it gets really, really busy Friday and Saturday so perhaps go during the week for a more relaxed atmosphere, but no matter what, you'll have a enjoyable time all the same.

Jun 14, 2012

You Know You're In Israel When...

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS

In 2004, Yoni Bloch released his single “Makir Oto”, “I Know Him”. The song essentially discusses how everyone knows everyone in Israel. This song could just as easily be the Israeli anthem as “Ha Tikva”. (Well, maybe not just as easily. Let me elaborate.)

I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts for seven and a half years. I walked to work and school every day. I rarely, if ever, walked by anyone I knew en route to my destinations. When I did, it was worthy of a phone call home. “Mom! Guess who I just ran into? You’ll never believe it! John! You remember. John? The guy who served the drinks at Grandma Susie’s birthday party? No? The one with the salt-and-pepper hair? He had a tattoo? No? Well, I ran into him. He says hi.” 

You would think that having lived in a place for so many years, I would run into people more often, and people who actually mattered in my life. Running into friends on the streets was so rare, that I stopped wearing make-up when I went to the convenience store for a soda. That quickly changed once I got to Israel. 

Israel is a small country. And Israel is a unique country. The same woman who pushes you in line will just as easily ask you to join her family for Shabbat dinner… during the same argument. Everyone essentially acts like family. And in families, people know each other. Such is the case for Israel. 

In Israel, and especially in Tel Aviv, everyone knows everyone. You can’t walk down the street without watching people running into friends, or you yourself running into someone! At first this sounds marvelous! Quaint, even! But the fact that everyone knows everyone is both a blessing and a curse. 

When knowing everyone is a blessing: 

- You are having a bad day and in the Old City you bump into your best friend’s mom, who used to give you sliced oranges after soccer games. What is she doing here? Doesn’t matter. You just went from ready to drink into oblivion, to reminiscing about high school and throwing up after soccer games. Instant good mood! 

- You’ve been looking for a job in America for months. There just aren’t any. So you take a stab at your luck in Israel. It would seem there are no jobs here too. But the second you tell your friend you are searching, she sends your resume to at least 8 family friends, and you have an interview by the end of the day. Achla! 

- When you were 21 years old and in Israel for the summer, you made out with a very handsome boy. He was tall, had blue eyes, and the body of a fire-fighter. Five years later, you walk into a bar, innocently looking for a drink and a few laughs. Funny enough, your old flame is sitting on the barstool next to you. Well that was easy. 

Look who I ran into! Best "soccer mom" ever! This made
my day!

When knowing everyone is a curse: 

- You go to a bar alone, because you are expecting to meet up with a friend there. You friend is going to be a few minutes late, and tells you to go ahead and order a drink while you wait. Now you’re drinking at the bar alone, and in comes the boy whose home you left at 5 AM this morning, before walk-of-shaming it back to your place. Who knew you’d see him again? Oops. 

- Because this is Israel, and it’s Shabbat, you decide to extend an invitation to anyone who needs a meal. Weirdos show up. You figure, that’s okay, I’ll only have to see them this one night. Not so, my friend. From now on, you will see these people everywhere- the shuk, the bars, heck, even Masada. Because it’s Israel. And they’ll ask you when the next Shabbat dinner is, every time.

- You make a new friend who after some conversation realizes that he knows your ex-boyfriend. The friend proceeds to tell you all about your ex-boyfriends current state of affairs and how well he is doing and how beautiful his new girlfriend is and how he is succeeding in school and career. I could wring your neck, new friend! Shut! Up!

- You finally sealed the deal with the boy you’ve waited five years to be with, after accidentally running into him at a bar (see above). You haven’t spoken since your one night of passion, but you see him everywhere. Funny enough… he lives across the street from you.  

A special moment is captured here. I awkwardly dance away
as a previous lover I ran into hits on a beautiful girl.
Incredibly uncomfortable!

I wish I could say that walking down the streets of Tel Aviv feels like walking into the bar Cheers, “where everybody knows your name.” To be honest, it’s usually pleasant. It’s wonderful to see people bumping into one another, hugging one another, and then walking away with vibrant smiles. Even though I don’t know either of the parties, I find myself in a better mood when I can witness these transactions! 

But all too often, knowing everyone turns out to be a mess. Know this, Israelis and travelers… be prepared. Hoping not to see your ex? Oh, you’ll see him. Just got into a fight with your friend? She’ll be at the same party as you tonight. So put on your best smile. Make sure you look stunning. And remember, you’ll run into someone. Why? Because you’re in Israel. 

Jun 13, 2012

Introducing Baby Bites: Child friendly places to eat in Tel Aviv

A year ago to the day, I became a mom to a beautiful bouncing baby boy. For some, this experience means, at least for the first month, house arrest. I'm not quite the "staying in" sort, so after being released from hospital on a Thursday, I found myself out with family and the baby carriage Friday morning for breakfast on Dizengoff. At the tender age of two weeks he was breastfeeding happily while I chowed down on Fu Sushi (after what felt like an interminable wait) and his first foray into solid food included scrambled eggs from Benedict. What can I say; we're proud Tel Avivians who don't see life with baby as a reason to give up on the feast of excellence the streets of the Hebrew City have to offer.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce a new column called "Baby Bites: Child friendly places to eat in Tel Aviv" to the wide-ranging TasteTLV portfolio of reviews. It will look at the best (and perhaps "lesser than") places to eat out with your child in Tel Aviv. It will have a rating key which includes important facts for hungry mothers with strollers in tow, such as access, high chair availability, noise, space and sound issues, food appropriateness, service recommendations and more. You make a lot of compromises when you become a parent; you at least deserve a decent feed once in a while.

Looking forward to sharing a good meal with you,

Jamie Zimmer

Baby Bites: Child friendly places to eat in Tel Aviv 

Reviva and Celia, Yoo Buildings, Tel Aviv

Service: 5 strollers + ( )
Food: 5 strollers ()
Stroller Access: 4 strollers (
Noise Factor: 3 strollers ()
Shade/Indoor: Yes
Highchair availability: Yes
Price: Moderate to expensive

Friday morning is a sweet blessing for parents. For those with kids over the age of three, its a few quiet hours in which they can enjoy each other, or friends, or have the headspace and hands to get everything that needs to be done, done before the kids get home from school. For parents with babies, its a nice time to relax together and, if you're like us, enjoy a nice breakfast out. A few weeks ago we (my husband, one year old son and I) decided to do exactly that together with family (his sister, her husband and their youngest, who is 9 months old). A motley crew in some regards, but not entirely impossible to serve. They were coming in from Ramat Aviv Gimmel, over the river, and we're in Kikar Milano, so the parking issue was in play but we found a compromise by meeting at the Yoo Buildings, which boasts a lovely cafe in their shopping complex called Reviva and Celia. They have another branch on Rechov Ha'Arba'a near the cinematheque in Tel Aviv, with the original bakery in Ramat Hasharon having risen to superstar status after Reviva's pastry appeared on MasterChef. In short, we knew we would be in for a nice meal. 

So upon the Yoo Buildings we descended; four adults and two babies in strollers. We were immediately welcomed up the ramp into the restaurant and asked if we needed high chairs, if we wanted to be indoors or under the shaded outdoor area, and if we had anyone else joining us. We were shown to the biggest table indoors which later sat another group with a baby as well, with enough space for us all to eat in peace but coo at each others children from a socially acceptable distance.  We ordered the Israeli breakfast between my husband and I, with an extra serve of scrambled eggs and bread for the babies. My sister in law had the healthy breakfast and her husband the muesli with fruit and yogurt. All beautifully presented, packaged and brought in good time with a smile. And of course, delicious. The kids thought so too. My son had already eaten breakfast at his usual hour of 6.30am but was, as usual, happy for more. My niece chewed hungrily on fresh baked bread while my offspring shoved the eggs into his mouth at lightning speed. When my sister in law and I both pulled out pureed fruit snacks for the kids, the management offered us spoons to feed them with, rather than making a fuss about bringing outside provisions that some places tend to do. Ten thumbs up for that.

Still, that isn't the kicker of why this place is excellent. Food, service, accessibility - some of the best I've ever seen. They made room for our strollers without complaint, asked if we were having a nice morning, and couldn't get over how cute the kids were holding hands in their high chairs. Here comes the best part, though; my son, after literally filling himself to maximum capacity, vomited all over the high chair and floor, conveniently missing my plate but sadly catching my handbag and my sister in law's shoes. Without missing a beat, the staff brought us napkins and a cloth to clean it up, helped clean it up ( even though its something you never, ever want someone else to do) asked if he was ok and then carried on like we were still their favorite customers. My son, now happily relieved of indigestion, reached for the cheese. The staff laughed and brought me a glass of water. 

If I ever build up the character to show my face there again, we'll certainly be back.