It’s a Monday night, arguably the dullest in the week, when most people settle for a TV dinner and hunker down for the workweek ahead. Yet, in Tel Aviv, it is a Monday filled with revelry of the kind that would put weekend shindigs elsewhere to shame. The city is young, electric, and chilled out. Here, hyper modernity goes hand in hand with a laid-back Mediterranean vibe, and something in the air seems to draw the young and restless out night after night.
It’s little wonder that there is a discotheque, pub, or live gig to match every taste. Tel Aviv’s cosmopolitanism (it counts among the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world and has a vibrant gay culture) and free-flowing spirits (last call at a Tel Aviv bar is when the last guest leaves) make for diverse and unstoppable entertainment. On my night out, my guide Ido Weil showed me how to hang like the locals, guzzle the best Israeli brews, and groove to the wickedest tunes in town (tlvnights.com; from ILS100/₹1,800). And as I ambled from one bar to the next, I quickly recalibrated my brain to the idea of a super fun school night out on the town.
In 2013, the vodka brand Absolut dedicated a special limited edition bottle to Tel Aviv’s nightlife. Designed by Israeli artist Pilpeled, the artwork represented the glittering ficus-lined nighttime boulevards of Rothschild, Chen, and Nordau. Together with the Port area, Ben Yehuda Street, and Dizengoff Square, these neighbourhoods form the pulse of the city. Here are our picks of Tel Aviv’s bars with the most character.
This Georgian bar and restaurant is steeped in atmosphere and throws up surprise after surprise from a delicious, all-vegan menu featuring traditional Georgian foods to curious bar traditions. On the night I visit, a motley trio comprising a drummer, bartender, and guest dance a jig atop the bar. Other members of the staff ring bells, hammer on metal surfaces, and throw toilet paper wreaths in the air while those gathered stomp and clap in unison
(Lilienblum St. 30; +972-3-5162254; nanuchka.co.il/en).
From cosy neighbourhood pubs, edgy underground clubs, late-night snack shacks, and coffee kiosks, there is something for every kind of night crawler in Tel Aviv. Photo courtesy Michael Shvadron/Pasaz
Most people walk right past this bar without knowing it exists, for its front is a non-assuming café. Only when I go to the back, do I discover this buzzing space. Located in an old building with an outdoor section surrounded by graffiti-painted walls, this grungy bar is a great live music venue showcasing edgy alternative acts, impromptu all-star jam sessions, and the best new bands in town. There are concerts nearly every night and they are mostly free. Drinks are reasonably priced and the vibe chilled out. An added plus is the café’s eggs Benedict (12 Rothschild Blvd, +972-3-5106430; www.rothschild12.co.il).
This nifty little joint’s USP is that it is value for money. Cofix is the beverage equivalent of a dollar store—coffee, beer, wine, and liquor cost ILS5/₹89 each and mixers are priced at half or even less than they cost elsewhere, making this a student’s dream dive and a tippler’s Pearly Gates. The bar is part of a larger chain that sells coffee, snacks, and other fast foods. The no-frills seating and bright uncluttered design make Cofix a popular choice for those who want to survive a night out on the town without lightening their wallets (Lilienblum St. 21; +973-9-9733150; www.cofix.co.il/en; closed during Shabbat).
A nondescript door on a quiet corner of Allenby Street leads to Pasáž or “the passage.” A flight of stairs goes down into a large space that could very well be a parallel dimension. The stage and bar are islands surrounded by a sea of enthusiastic music lovers. Showcasing fresh new sounds, old school blues, indie acts, hiphop, drum ‘n’ bass, and big ticket DJs, Pasáž sets high standards. I enter to raucous cheering as an old bluesman makes his guitar truly sing. No one seems to be in any hurry to go home even though it is way past midnight. Dim red lights, old furniture, ping-pong tables, and super-efficient bartenders notch up the coolness further (Allenby St. 94, +972-3-5603636).
Appeared in the February 2017 issue as “Put on Your Party Shoes in Tel Aviv”.
For those who’d rather ponder the correct way to pour beer or get the perfect foamy head crowning a glass, Porter & Sons is a good bet. Just a few minutes from buzzy Rothschild Boulevard, this joint melds an old-fashioned tavern with a modern craft brewery. With over 50 beers on tap, it is a candy shop for beer aficionados. They have a well curated collection of specialist small-batch Israeli brews besides the usual Goldstar and Maccabee pints. Their kitchen is more competent too, serving a range of delicious homemade sausages (14 Ha’arba’a Street; porterandsons.rest.co.il; open 5 p.m.-1 a.m.).
is Senior Associate Editor at National Geograpic Traveller India. She loves the many stories of big old cities. For her, the best kind of travel experience involves long rambling walks through labyrinthine lanes with plenty of food stops along the way.
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