Food isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Israel, but that may soon change. The local foodie scene has been getting quite a bit of attention lately, which may push Israel to become the next big foodie destination.
Tel Aviv’s culinary scene is being featured in “Somebody Feed Phil,” a Netflix series hosted by Phil Rosenthal. Phil will visit six cities known for their food: Mexico City, New Orleans, Lisbon, Saigon, Bangkok and Tel Aviv.
The show’s host kicks off his tour at Dr. Shakshuka, a restaurant housed in a 250-year-old building. Phil says Shakshuka is one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever eat.
Phil is also joined by some of the biggest food personalities in Israel, including the award-winning chef Michael Solomonov.
His restaurant stops include Zakaim, a vegan restaurant, and Abu Hassan, the most popular hummus spot in the city.
With a focus on fresh ingredients from local farms and high quality wholesale food suppliers, the city has developed a reputation for having some of the best food in the country.
Tel Aviv isn’t the only city making waves in the foodie scene. Acre is another popular foodie destination thanks to Uri Buri, the world-renowned seafood restaurant owned by Uri Jeremias.
The growing trend of vegetarianism and veganism is also helping to attract more tourists to the country. The vegan food scene has helped carve out a new niche tourism area, with special vegan culinary tours of Tel Aviv and Israel as a whole.
Veganism isn’t exactly a new trend in Tel Aviv. Just about every restaurant has a vegan option for diners, and many traditional dishes are already vegan. The movement has been growing for the last five years or so, but vegans in other parts of the world are just catching on to the trend.
Easy availability of vegetarian and vegan food in Israel is not only making the country a foodie destination, but also making it easier for people to travel.
And among the locals, Arak, the next big thing on the culinary scene, is drawing in more foodies to the country. What was once the drink of Middle Eastern men playing backgammon, Arak, an anise-flavored alcoholic drink is the spirit of choice for Israel’s younger generation.
Of course, Israel’s foodie scene isn’t all about the food. Yes, people come for the food, but they stay for the atmosphere. The best restaurants have a festive atmosphere, where diners sit elbow-to-elbow.
It’s no surprise that Conde Nast Traveler named Tel Aviv one of the five best culinary cities in the world in 2016. The city sits on the list alongside Cape Town, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Dubai and Tokyo. The city is home to more than 3,400 restaurants, and tourists can easily book food tours that provide a taste of both the local cuisine and the culture.
Will Israel become the next big foodie destination? Time will tell. But Tel Aviv is quickly becoming a top destination for both vegan tourists and food lovers who crave fresh, bright and healthy food.