The chef behind the forthcoming Che Fico and Theorita in San Francisco shares her favorite spots to snack and drink in Tel Aviv.
A wedding in Jerusalem brought her to the Middle East, but the vibrant food scene kept her in the country a bit longer. Recently, she spent some time in Israel’s ancient city along the Mediterranean coast studded with mod Bauhaus buildings, stuffing herself with pita and lots of labneh with fried artichokes.
“My boyfriend and I loved the energy of the people and the food-centric culture of Tel Aviv,” says Pinkerton. Here’s where she hit up along the way.
“It’s hard to find this cocktail bar near Habima Square, but once you do, make sure you go to both bars nestled in the space. The outer bar shakes up creative cocktails—and takes reservations—while the speakeasy focuses on classic drinks. Pull up one of the 10 seats at the bar and order my favorites: the Monkey’s Glad and the Aviation.”
“Essentially, it’s schnitzel in a pita. But at this little hole-in-the-wall spot right off of Jerusalem Beach, it’s the most wonderful creation. The chicken is crispy with fresh pita, pickles, hummus and salad—and it’s just perfect. Pro tip: Bring cash.”
“Whole roasted cauliflower: yes, please. We sat at the communal table inside this trendy hotspot in the Sarona neighborhood and ordered tons of meats and dips, too. However, our absolute favorite dish was the labneh with fried artichokes. Here, we also got a liquid introduction to a cool spirit: arak, a lightly anise-flavored liquor, served with mint and hibiscus.”
“This mini chain in Tel Aviv (and Paris) serves simple, delicious food: meat, vegetables and pita. We actually went twice during the four short days we spent in Tel Aviv—once with just the two of us and another time in a group of ten (wedding guests from all over the world). Everyone one of us loved it. The chicken liver pita, lamb pita, potato pita and roasted sweet potatoes are all amazing, but the must-order here is the whole roasted cauliflower. You’ll understand why we had to go twice!”
“There’s a lot of history enmeshed in this collection of boutique shops and restaurant supply stores right along the coast of southern Tel Aviv. You’ll find everything here, along with places to hide from the sun. It’s very charming, and you can easily spend hours here. Bonus: If you keep walking past Jaffa Port, you’ll end up in Jaffa Slope Park, which is a relaxing getaway from the city, perfect for a moment to enjoy the view or take a quick nap.”