The Place to Stay - Shenkin Hotel
It’s not very often you get a brand new hotel in the middle of all the action. Our friends at Tourist Israel gave us a great recommendation on a lovely new boutique hotel in Tel Aviv. In the heart of the White City, walking distance to restaurants, boutique shops and the markets this place has one of the most desirable locations in Tel Aviv.
When we arrived on the quiet little street we found a drop-off zone out the front of the hotel where we parked the car before we were offered a spot in their small and highly coveted parking lot around the back of the building.
Check-in was smooth and easy. The lobby was comfortable, clean, open and bright with clever decorative touches. A small, red couch horse was the kids’ favourite plaything every time we entered the lobby… that is before they realized there were free lollies beside the front desk.
Out the back of the lobby was an open-air lounge area where guests have access to complimentary coffee, tea, cookies and cake.
We took the lift to the first floor where our room was located. We had received interconnecting rooms and both were fabulously new. Big soft beds, closet space, safe, flat screen TV, welcome bottle of wine and water, but most importantly… the shower! Oh yes a luxuriously large rain showerhead that was high enough for even my husband to stand under without ducking. The hotel even provided us with a list of recommended family-friendly activities in the city.
One of my favourite things about the hotel was the roof. A perfect retreat for a little downtime or enjoying the warm Tel Aviv evenings, the roof had a variety of egg-shaped chairs, padded lounges and other comfortable reclining furniture to relax (or fall asleep on, cough cough Mr Bender).
The hotel works with two nearby restaurants for breakfast. We were given a voucher from the front desk in the morning and took a quick walk around the block to reach them. They formed part of our culinary post below.
The three nights we spent at the Shenkin Hotel were marvelous and I can totally recommend it for your visit to Tel Aviv. The staff were perpetually friendly and always ready to help. It was a perfectly located base for us to explore the city for several days.
The Food To Eat
Tel Aviv is like New Orleans. We did not have a bad meal anywhere. I wish we had longer to unravel the amazing cuisines within Tel Aviv because 3 days was not enough. It seems the soul of the culinary scene in Israel can be found in Tel Aviv. Check out a few of the wonders we found.
The Old Man & The Sea
South of the city in Jaffa Port is a wide array of restaurants to choose from. We had headed down for the tasting evening on Wednesday night as advised by our friends at Israeli Experts, however couldn’t seem to locate it.
In the end the kids were hungry and standing beside this place we decided just to eat here. What a choice! Or maybe its just all the food in Tel Aviv-Jaffa is wonderful, but we were in for a treat.
Much like our favourite restaurant in Daliat, The Old Man & The Sea puts on quite a meal. Without any notice, 20 salads and dips were delivered to our table to start eating straight away.
The menu explains you can order any main meal and the salad is free. Meals are about 75NIS ($23.50AUD) for chicken, more for seafood and lamb. If you don’t wish to purchase meat, the salad buffet delivered to your table and refilled when empty is 50NIS ($15AUD).
Considering all the food that arrived we skipped the kids meals. Josh ordered chicken shishlik, while I went for lamb ribs. Now my lamb was not particularly nice, perhaps it’s an Israeli thing, but Australians do it better. Josh’s chicken, however was to die for - juicy, tender, flavourful. And the salads were all top notch too. I did an InstyVideo on the speed with which these guys get out their food, check it out.
The meal was finished nicely with the most delectable dessert. Little round balls similar to the Indian dumpling dessert and, despite being full, we insisted on seconds.
This tapas & wine bar is nestled in the heart of Tel Aviv, under an antique Ficus tree, in The Station area of Neveh Tzedek. We stumbled on this quite accidentally, but soon realised this was a recommendation from our friend Ela (Israeli Experts).
As we sat in the shade of the huge tree in the early afternoon we ordered mini hamburgers. The tapas selection all came with bread, olives, salad, which was delivered promptly.
The hamburgers were juicy and delicious, very gourmet. And the kids enjoyed the fried potato cubes that were served as a side dish. They were also the perfect size for little mouths too.
After watching a number of delectable desserts go past our table, my husband also decided to try one and scored a winner with a crème caramel spin-off.
This place is a delight to the senses and tastebuds.
As part of our hotel stay we got the option to eat here with breakfast vouchers. We were offered a custom hotel menu, but everything still looked mouth-watering. It happened to be a very late breakfast for us and we decided on more “brunchy” menu items ordering bruchetta, scramble egg croissant and brioche sandwiches, all came with the standard Israeli salad.
That bruchetta had to be one of my favourite things I ate that weekend, it was delicious, crunchy and bursting with flavor. On our way out we stopped at the counter to oogle the tempting cakes in the glass display case. It took all our resolve to walk away. My only problem was this was not open on Saturday (Shabbat) and I wanted to eat there again!
Located on Shenkin Street, 2 minutes walk from our hotel, this was our second breakfast option. This restaurant offered an English breakfast that was fried eggs served over chips! The muesli and fruit was a favourite and the kids enjoyed their hot chocolate.
While we only had a small hotel menu, the food coming out to other guests looked delicious. All meals came with an Israeli salad and big portion sizes. Best of all it was in a perfect location to head to the nearby markets and start exploring with full tummies.
Street Food & Snack Foods
While at the Carmel Markets we tried several of the foods on display - anything from baklava to pastries to olives. The shopkeepers love to offer free tastings so you needn’t even purchase anything.
One evening we were also passing a pizza store selling non-kosher pizza – yes cheese and pepperoni. I decided to get some for the kids who were complaining of hunger after our long walk. I ordered two slices, but unlike any New York pizza bar the pizza here was charged by the weight, so you can order a small piece or a larger piece. 2 regular New York size pieces were about $7.
Another store we passed was selling ice cream – some of the best I’ve tried. Again free tastings on any flavour, but the trap is then to say no once you tried the one that makes your mouth water. $5 for a small cup, but it’s still a big serving.
On the Friday night, Ela (Israeli Experts) generously invited us to share a Shabbat dinner with her family. They were extremely warm and hospitable, and the home cooking was delicious. We tasted fresh figs for the first time and shared some iconic Aussie Tim Tams- chocolate biscuits.
There were so many places we had wanted to go around Tel Aviv. I heard of a popular Thai restaurant and someone even mentioned Mexican, oh how I miss Mexican. Not only does Tel Aviv specialize in the Israeli food, but also has an abundant range of international cuisines and culinary delights. If it’s food you are after in Israel, make sure you stop in at Tel Aviv.