I’m back for Part III of my bar recommendations for Tel Aviv (aka Vice City). Today, I’m going to Florentin, a neighbour with a once-dodgy reputation that’s currently undergoing enormous gentrification and popular with students, hipsters and ‘alternative thinkers.’ It’s certainly not bourgeois, like the Old North, or trendy, like Rotschild, but Florentin for sure has a charm of its own. So, again, in no particular order, here are my five favourite bars for a lunchtime drink or late night tipple…
1. Bugsy - Named after a Jewish-American gangster (always a good conversation starter), Bugsy was one on the first resto-bars in the neighbourhood and has a loyal following. By day a cafe, at night more bar-style, it’s ‘gangsta style’ ambience and New York feel make it an attractive place to hang out.
They have a good selection of beers and wines, and decent selection of cocktails. With a reputation for serving the best burger in town, and the free bar snacks and live DJing (which is fun but - be warned - extremely loud) this is a good place for a night out.
Florentin 6, Tel Aviv, tel: 03 510-9952
2. Mescal - With a fantastic range of tequilas, and some great food to boot, this is a great little Mexican bar and restaurant. (Oh, and In my humble opinion, it also serves the best frozen margherita in the city!) Seriously, the fact that this place is always so crowded gives you an indicator of the quality of the food and drink here.
The nachos and tacos are tasty and the enchiladas remind me of the ones I ate in Mexico City. Bold colours inside and a mad bartender add to the hilarity. A bit costly, but if you go when it’s Happy Hour you can enjoy yourself without burning too big a hole in your wallet. A must-visit.
Vital 2, Tel Aviv; tel: 03 518-7925
3. Satchmo - This is known as Florentin’s ‘Whisky Bar” and since this is one of my favourite drinks, Satchmo is a bar which has a special place in my heart. Apparantly, it’s the oldest bar in the niehgbourhood too. With an excellent selection of whiskies (and other alcohol besides), and friendly bar staff, it’s a great place to go if you want kick back, meet new people and get into the neighbourhood vibe.
They also have a backyard, which is good for sitting in in the Spring and Fall. The only real drawback at Satchmo is that the rock music they play is pretty loud, which means this isn’t the bar to come to if you want a serious conversation. Otherwise, recommended.
Chayim Vital 6, Tel Aviv, tel: 052 471-9070
4. Cocktails and Dreams - There’s some serious mixology going on at this bar, with owners Daniel and Ben offering a friendly yet intimate service to their patrons. Every cocktail you’ll drink here is creatively made and beautifully presented and the Carribean decor (pineapples and palm trees) is great fun too! Try the ‘Red Nose’ (gin, rum, clover bitters, hot chilli syrup and smoked paprika) or a Bloody Mary (vodka, tomatoes, lemon garlic and oyster sauce).
They also offer lunch and bar snacks. With a Speakeasy style and cosy vibe, and the fantastic service, this place has gained a serious following amongst the hipsters of the area and tourists alike. Pop down on Friday between 14.00-19.00 for Happy Hour….prices are 50% off on cocktails!
Yedidya Frenkel 4, Tel Aviv, tel: can’t find one!
5. Perla - This is a friendly neighbourhood bar with it’s claim-to-fame being that they serve twelve different beers on tap with one revolving (it actually changes every night, so I’m told). This is a good place to watch games - they have a big plasma TV, although its not in the main bar (good news for those who don’t like sport) and a small food menu. The only real drawback is that people still smoke in here (even though it’s illegal). With their affordable prices (especially in the afternoon), I’ve also been reliably informed their Guinness is to die for (I prefer their ‘fruit’ beers, but that’s just me). Fun and unpretentious.
Next time, I'll be bar-hopping in Jaffa...