Sarah spent most of the week running around with her kids, but did reserve Wednesday (remember, my day off of work?) to spend with yours truly. I decided to take her to Neve Tzedek the first neighborhood to crop up in Tel-Aviv, a stone's throw from the ancient port city of Yaffo. In recent years, Neve Tzedek has become gentrified and is filled with upscale galleries, shops and restaurants as well as beautiful architecture, lovingly restored.
Unfortunately, Sarah and I met way past the lunch hour and neither of us had eaten. Both of us have been blessed with healthy appetites and it was difficult to appreciate the beauty of Neve Tzedek in our hungry states. Lovely as Neve Tzedek is, none of the scrumptious-looking cafes there seemed to be kosher.
What are two hungry friends to do?
By this time, in our agitated, hungry states we had wandered down to the shore, where off in the not-to-far distance I saw Yaffo. I knew from my recent trip that there were kosher places to eat there, so we walked on over.
We walked past the famous watchtower, hung a left, and came upon this:
Yes, Dr. Shakshuka, a mainstay of Yaffo for about 50 years, famous for its, well, food. I had read about the restaurant before, and heard about it from friends and was thrilled to find it. Knowing it was kosher, Sarah and I walked in and fell in love. The atmosphere is casual, the decor unusual (all kinds of old (antique?) lamps and pots hanging from the ceiling, shared tables with non-matching chairs that looked like they were obtained from the nearby flea market). We sat down, grabbed a menu (a laminated, handwritten photocopy) and decided to go with the "tasting", which meant that our lovely waitress brought us a variety of salads and main dishes to taste.
The food is "Tripolitan", from the owner's native country of Libya.
Here is the vegetable soup that came with the cous-cous, both cooked to perfection.
This is the meat cooked with tomato sauce and beans.
I have no idea, just meat so tender it melted in your mouth and flavors that make me want to stop writing and run out to Yaffo right now.
Is this the famous mafrum, potatoes stuffed with meat, and of course some meat on the side?
This is the table before all the dishes were brought in. I see I didn't photograph the meat with eggplant and okra dish, the most scrumptious dish there. Once I put down my camera and picked up my fork, I was done.
I'm guessing you want to know how much all this cost us. I've gotta tell you I goofed here. The menu said 85 shekel, and I knew that had to be a mistake, it was just to much food for the money. We asked the women sitting next to us and they said it was 130 shekel, which made more sense. When the bill came it turned out to be 170 shekel (85 per person); the women had them omit some of the dishes to get a better price. Had we known, we would have done the same thing--there was way to much food there for the two of us, even with our voracious hunger. Still 170 shekel is about 23dollars each when split two ways. (Have I mentioned the price included fresh lemonade, tea and dessert?) I've eaten alot less for alot more at the "fancier" restaurants. And if you decide to order normally and just get one dish, the prices seemed very reasonable.
After our meal, Sarah and I
If you live here, go get some. If you visit, put it on your must-do list. Because a walk around Yaffo and a meal at Dr. Shakshuka with a good friend is as perfect a day in Israel as I can think of.