Street Wise | Tel Aviv’s Hot New Block
Food, Travel By ANTHONY GRANT
Nahalat Binyamin Street, which crosses lower Rothschild Boulevard — Tel Aviv’s chief axis of white Bauhaus beauties — is emerging as the microhood of the moment. By day this thin strip is all garment-district shuffle and cheeky graffiti art, but at night the street takes on a moody but electric air. You might find Bar Refaeli, or at least plenty of women who look like models, at the street’s hottest spot, Mizlala (No. 57). Here the city’s star chef, Meir Adoni, whips up dishes like fish kebabs, garlic-sage linguine with white asparagus and something called Palestinian tartar — ground beef, raw tahini paste, pine nuts, charred eggplant puree, cumin and parsley.
A less clublike energy prevails at the new 44, named not for the address (No. 29) but for the house libation, which involves 44 oranges, coffee beans and as many quarts of vodka (or something like that: none of the revelers here seem bothered with keeping count). The kitchen is captained by a talented graduate of Joz and Loz, Tel Aviv’s famously lesbian-owned eatery, who feeds the hipster brigade pomegranate seed salad, oxtail tortellini and a crushed sesame semifreddo that opens new doors of Levantine bliss.
High-ceilinged HaTraklin (No. 41) looks like a Paris bistro crossed with a Greenwich Village cafe, and has a staggering selection of Israeli wine. (Try some Asif, a fruity white made by two rabbis who tend a nonkosher vineyard [?] in the Negev Desert.) You can also roast your meat on a piping hot rock at the bar, then rip off bits to dip in the chef Moshe Assaf’s date- and honey-infused roast garlic bulb. Yossi Ben-Odis, the sommelier and owner, organizes regular cinema-themed feasts in the back room.
Skip the garlic if you’re headed to Shpagat (No. 43), a mixed-but-mostly-gay bar whose name means “splits” (as in what those Batsheva dancers do so well). The modish duplex space, with unusual tiered seating, fills up fast with a smart but low-key crowd swilling and chilling over glasses of arak.
But kosher? Well, for sure the wine is.