Tel Aviv—A Sunny Haven Where East Meets West

This article was excerpted from The Wall Street Journal’s Insider’s Guide to Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv is the ultimate East-meets-West city, accented by ample doses of American pop culture and the one million recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel. Blessed with nine blue-sky months and nearly nine miles of aquamarine coastline, Tel Aviv feels like a Middle Eastern Miami—all white-washed architecture, boogie-boarding beach bums and palm-lined boulevards stretching to the sea. New cultural endeavors such as the Design Museum in next-door Holon, the annual Fresh Paint contemporary art fair and the biannual Art TLV festival are placing Tel Aviv on the global art map.



B&B:Nina Cafe Suites Hotel. This tiny five-bedroom inn kicked off Tel Aviv’s boutique boom when it opened in 2005. Decorated with Parisian antiques and located in the artsy Neve Tzedek district, it’s posh and funky. 29 Shabazi St.,

Inn Spot: Hotel Montefiore. This 12-room hotel is in city’s historic core. A circa-1922 mansion, it’s stylish and has a good-looking crowd, great balconies and a tasty pan-Asian bistro. 36 Montefiore St.,

Sweet Seventeen: The Hilton Tel Aviv. For 40 years this non-chain-feeling hotel has been my second home. The Mediterranean views from the 17th floor’s Executive Lounge are sensational. For those who eat Kosher, the King Solomon restaurant has great dishes.Independence Park,


People Watching

Urban Mix: Meir Park. Tel Aviv has many small hangout parks. This is my favorite. It’s filled with a crazy mix of stroller-pushing moms and the odd drunk Russian philosopher—a part of Tel Aviv most tourists don’t see. 35 King George St. at Tchernichovsky St.

Lookout: Manta Ray. Right on Alma Beach, with amazing views of Jaffa to the south and the skyline to the north. I don’t go there for the cuisine. But the tapas platters are piled with Middle Eastern mezzes like couscous salad and tehina.
Alma Beach,



Bars and Cafes

Waterfront Scene: Comme il Faut Café. You feel the city’s self-love closer to the sea, at places like Old Port. Now renovated, the waterfront overflows with outdoor cafes. I love the salads at the Comme il Faut Café, owned by the fashion label of the same name. Hangar 26,

Beach Boite: LaLa Land. Most Tel Aviv beach bars are pretty lousy: great location, but bad music and food. But LaLa Land keeps it simple with small dishes like hummus served beachside. The atmosphere is relaxed. Sunset paradise. Gordon Beach, 011 972 3 5293303


Harmonious Eats: Messa. Minimalist—with a white-on-white marble dining room—it’s one of the city’s first great “designer” restaurants. Chef Aviv Moshe turns out stellar charcoal-grilled eggplant and goose-liver carpaccio. It’s all very grown-up. 
19 HaArbaa St.,

Mod-Med Menu: Catit. Inside a restored Ottoman-era mansion, Chef Meir Adoni’s elegant restaurant serves local and visiting foodies, including Paul McCartney, who had his own veggie menu. Heichal Hatalmud 4,

Sea-and-be-Scene: Mul-Yam. Tel Aviv’s power spot, it’s a slim sea-front bistro where moguls seal deals in a medley of languages. Seafood arrives daily from around the world. It’s the best restaurant in Israel. Hangar 24, Tel Aviv Port,





Fab Finds: The Jaffa Flea Market. My favorite shopping spot in the city, particularly for Eastern Europe vintage clothing and accessories, this market retains its Levantine atmosphere. The prices are so low you wonder if the sellers know what they’ve got. I always pop by the nearby Abulafia Bakery for pitas and pastries. Abulafia: 7 Yefet St., Jaffa

Forward Fashions: Mirit Weinstock. The designer interned for Alexander McQueen before returning home to start her own line. 20 Shnizler St.,

Design House: Kastiel. The Kastiel family has been designing modern and luxurious furnishings for three generations. Their Tel Aviv flagship reflects the heritage. Half the building’s a restored Bauhaus warehouse, the other a renovated Ottoman-era corral. 36 Alfasi St.,


 The White City. It’s not exactly white, but this important quarter is home to the world’s most extensive collection of Bauhaus architecture, over 4,000 buildings in all. Rothschild Blvd., Ahad Ha’am St. and Balfour St.

Insider’s Archive: Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Jerusalem’s Israel Museum may be better known, but this is the cultural focal point of Tel Aviv. There’s a giant Roy Lichtenstein mural in the foyer, custom-made for the space. In 2011, its $100-million expansion opens. 27 Shaul HaMelech Blvd.,

Mellifluous Space: The Frederic R. Mann Auditorium. It’s home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, but it’s also a vital part of architectural history. Leonard Bernstein conducted its first concert in 1957. 1 Huberman St.,


Modern Love: Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art. The Tel Aviv Museum has a satellite gallery, The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, which I loved visiting as a child. The small, modernist space focuses mostly on young artists. 6 Tarsat Blvd.,

Museum Row: Holon Arts Quarter. The Holon area has gone from unremarkable suburb to cultural hub. That includes the Children’s Museum, the Mediatheque and the Design Museum, which I designed. Design Museum Holon, 8 Pinhas Eilon St.,

Family Fun

Children’s Hour: Flea Market (Dizengoff Circle). It’s small, clean and great for kids—a contained world. I take my son to look for old records, mostly musicals and classic Hebrew albums. Dizengoff Circle

This article was excerpted from The Wall Street Journal’s Insider’s Guide to Tel Aviv.

You must be logged in to post a comment.