When we first met Ross Belfer on a noisy street corner in Tel Aviv, we could tell that he was tapped into the scene. The founder of international media agency Xhibition hooked us up with the city's hidden treasures (which we wrote about on Fathom), and had many more favorite spots to share.
TEL AVIV – The micro-metropolis on the Mediterranean is all about The Now. Since moving to Tel Aviv four years ago, I've witnessed a migration of the city's most innovative hotspots southward, transforming boulevards and compact crevasses into meccas of cultural consumption. Here are some of my favorite spots in town. Use this list a jumping-off point for experiencing the city's creative side.
Contemporary by Golconda
117 Herzl St.; +972-3-682-2777
A leading art gallery in the local scene owned by perennial collector Dr. Ronald Fuhrer. Located in south Tel Aviv, the gallery showcases top contemporary artists from Israel, such as David Nipo, Eran Weber, and Lior Modan. The multi-level space has high ceilings and industrial-chic decor housed in an old tahini factory.
12 Rothschild Blvd.; +972-3-510-6430
A choice spot to catch homegrown musical acts or catch up with friends over a Tom Collins and a delicious burger. The locale also hosted Boiler Room when it came to town in 2014.
Cafe Levinsky 41
41 Levinsky St; +972-58-448-8480
An organic take on the popular Israeli beverage gazoz. Spark up a conversation with the affable Benny Briga, a former chef, as he prepares homemade organic fruit syrups from peach, strawberry, roses, almond, and apricots, and then combines them with soda for a subtly sweet, refreshing beverage.
122 Allenby St.; +972-52-642-6535
When I feel the need to dance, I migrate to this video art-infused club and backyard. DJs pump soulful house that will leave you undulating until closing time, which is normally around sunrise. If the munchies strike, order from the club's veg-friendly menu.
Bespoke creations from Cafe Levinsky 41. Photo by Ross Belfer.
36 Montefiore St.; +972-3-564-6100
A landmark boutique property with a decadent restaurant and bar that deftly serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After an indulgent meal of raw tuna with yuzo, sea bass with pumpkin cream, eggplant kroket, beef filet and goose-liver, tournedos Rossini, and several Negronis, wander past the stylish crowd back to your room dressed in cool black furnishings. Look for munchies on the entranceway armoire.
8 Sgula St.; +972-3-670-6511
A conceptual design studio vending in-house graphics and signage founded by local tastemaker Yaron Mendelovici. Mock emblems of different countries, from Iran and England to Cuba, make for an ironic — yet apt! — memento for the road home.
22 Ha'Shahaf St.; +972-3-605-8339
A slice of serenity reincarnated as a Japanese-style spa in Jaffa. Green tea foot baths and hot compresses lead the way to one of several massage treatments in a well-designed space housed in an Ottoman-era edifice. Whenever I need a dose of chill, this is my choice location.
Yom Tov Delicatessen
37 Levinsky St.; +972-3-681-3730
A must-visit for gourmets, the compact eatery was established in 1969 by immigrants from Istanbul and is run by third-generation owners Yomi and Eitan Levi. Yom Tov showcases a slew of well-preserved family recipes, including homemade Turkish grape leaves stuffed with rice, garlic confit, several types of eggplant salads, and rare olives imported from Syria, Turkey, and Greece. Mmmmm delightful.
Anna LouLou Bar
2 Hapninim St.; +972-3-716-8221
A local Jaffa favorite, this newly conceived dance bar is co-owned by an Arab and Israeli hipster, with nightly DJ's spinning everything from electronic dance music to hip-hop, '60s rock, and classical Arabic gems.
Near Peres Peace Center (132 Kedem Street)
Cruise south along Jaffa's Kedem Street overlooking the Mediterranean to find the serene and exotic Ajami beach. Devoid of vibe-crushing hotels, it's the perfect place to watch the sunset and drink Goldstars with friends, old and new.