Vegetarian & Vegan Cheap Eats in Tel Aviv
Anyone who’s read just about anything on this site will know I’m far from vegetarian or vegan. What I wasn’t prepared for in Israel was just how incredible the vegetarian and vegan food would be. So good in fact, they were actually better than just about every meat dish I tried during my stay. While Israel is more expensive than average, it’s certainly possible to find some great cheap eats in Tel Aviv.
The three dishes everyone will tell travelers they have to try in Israel are all vegetarian (and can be vegan) dishes. Those must-try plates include falafal, shakshuka and of course, hummus. I’ve outlined each of the dishes and where to find the best of each below.
Vegetarians and vegans can rejoice here and carnivores can have an opportunity to see just how good food without meat can be.
Address: Shlomo Hamelech1, Tel Aviv
$8-12 per person
I saw the line and heard the noise before I saw the sign at Falafel Hakosem. Widely known as the best falafel spot in Tel Aviv, this spot is far from a secret. Though I wondered if it was worth it for half a second, I reminded myself that this type of a line means people are dedicated to enjoying something high quality and that it’s clearly worth the wait. The fact that nearly everyone spoke Hebrew or any language other than English was also a good sign. I was among locals and everyone appeared excited about the food they were about to enjoy.
I waited around 15 minutes which wan’t too bad at all. The line went quickly as the guys in the kitchen quickly made wraps and plates of Israeli food. Two times guys from the restaurant came to the line and handed out small containers of falafel, motioning to take one and pass it down. Those of us in line did so happily.
READ MORE: The Best Falafel in Nazareth
As I made it to the front the guys in the kitchen spoke perfect English and made my falafel in a lafa (large wrap) with everything. It was assembled quickly and I was ready for goodness. The tables were all completely full so I sat on a bench in front of the restaurant which had little tables built into it.
The falafal was crispy and packed with great flavor. The veggies were all fresh as well. They offered a self-service bar with hot sauces such as my favorite chili oil and tahini and I added a little of both to each bite. The lafa was fantastic and I couldn’t quite eat all of it, decided to save the rest for later. Highly recommended for falafal, I hear the shawarma is excellent as well if you would like to try a meat option.
For a mere $8 this was easily the best falafal I had ever had at this point and I could barely finish 3/4 of it in one sitting. Highly recommended for cheap eats in Tel Aviv!
Address: Gedera St 9, Tel Aviv-Yafo
$12-16 per person
A majority of the travel books and guides out there will direct people to the “tourist” shakshuka spot. This is not that place. If you ask enough locals, they’ll lead you here, to Mitbachon. A little local kitchen with a great patio on nice days allows diners to enjoy great food and a beautiful view. On this weekend brunch, three of us all ordered the shakshuka.
The main course is preceded by a side salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil and seasoning. Bread, cabbage, pickles and tahini are also brought out around this time on the side. I love having so many additional items to add to each bite and everyone who eats here will as well. All of this continued to build the anticipation for the main course.
READ MORE: Israel on a Budget: Flights & Tel Aviv
Finally it was time for the main event. Shakshuka is a traditional dish made in a skillet with tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, herbs and eggs. (Fear not vegans, eggs can also be replaced by eggplant and other veggies upon request!) The eggs are dropped into the skillet after the veggies have been cooking and they cook somewhere between poached and over easy. The outer edges of this dish is slightly crispy from the high heat over which the dish is cooked. The description alone doesn’t do this meal justice.
Savory, rich, acidic and well seasoned, it’s one of my favorite new meals. Shakshuka has to be tried in order to be appreciated. I can’t wait to try cooking it sometime. For $14 this isn’t the least expensive meal you’ll have in Israel but it’s well worth it.
The House of Hummus
Address: Allenby 47, Tel Aviv
$10-15 per person
The third most recommended local dish to try in Israel is of course, hummus. I found one of my favorites at a little local spot called House of Hummus. Made of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), tahini, olive oil, a little water and any number of additional seasonings, this is one of my favorites. Also, in my own personal experience, this is a great place to enjoy hummus and other cheap eats in Tel Aviv.
Craving more shakshuka, they offer a humus option with shakshuka plopped in the middle. At their recommendation I gave it a try along with some fries. Everything was fantastic! And you can try two Israeli dishes this way, though of course you should try shakshuka its traditional way as well! For around $12 this was filling and allowed me a good opportunity to try a few different options. I will definitely return during my next stay.
Though this might look like a small amount of food, hummus is filling and I could barely finish all of this.
READ MORE: Haifa’s Hummus & Culture of Coexistence
Map: Vegetarian & Vegan Cheap Eats in Tel Aviv
Israel has a vast number of incredible sites to see during every traveler’s (or local’s) time there. With a strong likelihood that everyone will fly in or out of Tel Aviv, hopefully this list will help everyone to identify and try a few of the best dishes the city (and country) has to offer. Enjoy your time here and don’t forget to try these cheap eats in Tel Aviv!
L’chaim! (Cheers in Hebrew)
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