Ambiance: A few tables in the lobby of a small boutique hotel, as well as on the sidewalk outside. Barvazi—also the nickname of Raz Rahav (Tel Aviv’s top chef, according to Gault & Millau), who designs gourmet sandwiches when he is not at his highly rated OCD restaurant—does a brisk take-away trade.
Beverages: Cider, beer, soft drinks, iced coffee and hot drinks
Sandwiches: There are separate sandwich menus in the morning—from 07.00 until 12.00—and the afternoon, from noon until closing, at 17.00.
Recommended sandwiches are the shredded ribs on croissant, the mac and cheese with corned beef on toast, and the seaweed salad on sourdough.
Other menu items and desserts: During breakfast hours there is yogurt with muesli; in the afternoons there are excellent cold salads, like wild rice with broccoli.
The one dessert is homemade soft-serve ice cream or sorbet, whose flavors rotate frequently.
Prices: NIS 20-56.
Barvazi Urban Sandwich. Not kosher. Herzl St. 17, Tel Aviv. No telephone listed.
Ambiance: A no-frills stall in the Carmel Market, with a corner picnic table to eat on. Amiable owner Enzo takes pride in what he calls Tel Aviv’s “best Italian street food” and extends friendly, personal service
Beverages: Imported wine, draft and bottled beer, soft drinks
Sandwiches: Bocca Bocca bakes its own focaccia, which Enzo toasts and then slits like a pita, to be stuffed with homemade Italian dishes. There are always meat, chicken and vegan options, although some may sell out after lunch (the place is open until 18.00).
Recommended sandwiches are chicken pizzaiola (even without cheese), marinated roast beef, and zucchini with wine vinegar and mint. Sandwiches are served with a small green salad, crispy fried onions, and
Other menu items and desserts: Arancini—risotto balls—are fried fresh on the spot when ordered. Enzo will ship up simple spaghetti dishes for kids.
There are three desserts, which are quite good for being pareve: chocolate mousse, chocolate sausage, and coconut caramel panna cotta.
Prices: NIS 25-36.
Bocca Bocca. Kosher. HaCarmel St. 40, Tel Aviv Tel. (052) 391-3233.
Ambiance: Located on a key corner in Raanana’s industrial zone, this branch of the nationwide chain has a spacious indoor area with two seating sections, plus an al fresco area where smoking is permitted.
Beverages: Beer, wine, cider, fruit juices, soft drinks, shakes, smoothies, hot drinks
Sandwiches: There are actually two sandwich sections on the menu. The primary one lists, vegan, vegetarian, fish, beef and chicken options, on a choice of white or whole wheat bread. There is a separate category itemizing three grilled cheese sandwiches, on sesame bagel. All sandwiches are accompanied by a small salad.
Recommended sandwiches are the red lentil “omelette”—a vegan dish in which a beer batter replaces eggs—and another gem hidden away in the Snacks section of the menu: Arais, a grilled pita sandwich containing a chopped lamb patty.
Other menu items and desserts: The restaurant is open from early morning until late night, so there is an extensive menu featuring breakfast (served all day), salads, main courses, pastas and pizza. There is also a children’s menu.
Finally, there is a fairly large selection of desserts, including morning pastries, pies and cakes.
Prices: NIS 44-56
Cafe Landwer. Not kosher. HaSadna St. 6, Raanana. Tel. (09) 768-9004
Ambiance: A chain with eight branches in the north and center of the country, the two restaurants we visited both had small indoor seating areas and spacious al fresco areas with plenty of space for kids to play.
Beverages: Beer, wine, smoothies, natural juices, soft drinks, hot drinks.
Sandwiches: Five sandwiches are listed: three with chicken, one with salmon, and one with warm or cold feta cheese. (Since the overall menu has a good number of vegan options, there is one in the sandwich category as well, if you substitute tofu for the stir-fried chicken.)
Recommended are the white meat chicken with onion chutney, and the warm feta with pesto spread.
Other menu items and desserts: There is an extensive menu of cold and hot dishes suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an emphasis on healthy options. There is also a children’s menu.
A separate dessert menu lists seven items, including gluten free and vegan options. "Decadent shakes” based on ice cream or sorbet appear both on the regular menu and the dessert menu.
Prices: NIS 52-58. Some sandwiches are also available in discounted business lunch combinations, which is available weekdays until 17.00.
Cafe Louise. Not kosher. Drorim Mall, Bnei Dror. Tel Aviv. Tel. (09) 974-1023.
Ambiance: An open storefront restaurant and bar, plus simple tables and chairs on a side street in the heart of Carmel Market. The place is actually across the way from the correct street address (its former location).
Beverages: Specialty cocktails, full bar, private label beer, soft drinks
Sandwiches: The hearty sandwiches here are served on small loaves of sesame seed crusted hallah. The restaurant’s flagship sandwich is the Arrouk vegetable fritters, with amba and tehina.
Also recommended is the Tripoli grilled breast of chicken with an amazing chirchi sauce made from pumpkin, carrot and cumin.
Other menu items and desserts: There is a variety of Israeli, Middle Eastern and vegan dishes. The eggplant Baladi on tehina is especially good.
There is only one dessert: malabi.
Prices: NIS 47-61
HaShomer 1. Not kosher. Hashomer St. 2, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 673-6883
Ambiance: An award-winning cafe-restaurant-bar at a major intersection, with indoor and al fresco sidewalk seating on Ben Yehuda and Jabotinsky Streets.
Beverages: Specialty cocktails, full bar, wine, beer, soft drinks, juices and smoothies.
Sandwiches: The sandwich menu, comprising five sandwiches served on whole wheat or hallah rolls, is served daily between 11.00 and 20.00. One toasted sandwich appears in the breakfast section, and another grilled sandwich (arais) appears on the evening menu (20.00 until closing, after midnight).
Recommended sandwiches are the Workman’s—lamb kebab, tehina, lettuce, tomato and grilled onion—and the Artichoke and Antipasti: grilled vegetables, artichoke spread, Gouda cheese, walnuts and greens.
Other menu items and desserts: There is an extensive daytime menu serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then a separate nighttime menu.
The dessert menu, comprising five sweet items, is served at all hours.
Prices: NIS 47-54. A sandwich can also be the main dish in the discounted business lunch served weekdays between 12.00 and 17.00.
Java. Not kosher. Ben Yehuda St. 196, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 744-0466
Ambiance: A corner bistro located between Shuk HaCarmel and Kerem HaTeimanim, Kovshim has the feel of a cozy neighborhood cafe. The outdoor tables on the sidewalk of the street leading to the beach catch a pleasant sea breeze in the evenings.
Beverages: Specialty cocktails, a full bar, beer, wine, soft drinks and hot drinks
Sandwiches: There are five sandwiches on the morning menu (served until noon) and seven on the menu served from noon until midnight, including one vegan sandwich. Most sandwiches are served with a green salad or chopped salad.
Recommended are the corned beef sandwich with fried onions and mushrooms on ciabatta bread, and an open-faced sandwich we discovered among the starters: Camembert focaccia—grilled cheese garnished with red chili garnish and a balsamic glaze.
Other menu items and desserts: As befits a restaurant open all day, the restaurant’s menus comprise breakfasts, appetizers, main courses and salads. According to regular customers, portions in all categories are generous.
A separate dessert menu itemizes eight desserts; the sleeper among them is the caramelized banana with kadaif, which is actually banana, hazelnuts and ice cream swimming in a sweet caramel syrup.
Prices: NIS 39-56.
Kovshim. Not kosher. HaKovshim St. 48, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 510-8555.
Ambiance: A large bakery with a restaurant section in the rear and a large al fresco plaza between Ha’arba’a and HaHashmona’im Streets. The chairs are slightly less comfortable outdoors.
Beverages: Cider, beer, natural juices, soft drinks and hot drinks
Sandwiches: There are two sandwich sections on the menu, one bearing the qualifier Specialty sandwiches. Regular sandwiches come made on a choice of bread: rye, whole wheat bread or roll, French country loaf, baguette, focaccia or hallah (before Shabbat and holidays).
Of the five specialty sandwiches, plus one daily special, recommended are the herring on baguette, and the focaccia sabich (the latter is not yet on the English menu, only on the updated Hebrew one; fortunately, that is the only difference).
Other menu items and desserts: Salads, savory baked goods, quiches and pizza puff pastry—and, of course an abundance of cakes, tarts and pastries, all on display; the menu even suggests accompanying a waiter to the pastry case,
Croissants and breakfast pastries are available all day, while two cakes by the slice get special mention: the flagship cheesecake, and chocolate layer cake.
Prices: NIS 19-34. Add a green salad for NIS 15.
Lehamim. Kosher. HaHashmona’im St. 103, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 561-8111
Ambiance: This bakery chain has street and shopping mall locations. The shopping mall branch I visited had no table service; you place your own order at the counter. You may have to request a menu.
Beverages: Self-serve refrigerated juices and soft drinks, frozen drinks, hot drinks.
Sandwiches: Aside from sweet baked goods and whole loaves of bread, the entire food menu is sandwiches. Eleven sandwiches are listed, most made with some form of cheese.
Large sandwiches are made fresh to order on long pretzel rolls; recommended in this category are the Saint Maure—this French cheese with onion jam, tomato and arugula—and the Caprese—mozzarella with pesto, tomato and fresh basil.
Smaller sandwiches are on whole grain sourdough bread or rolls, pre-wrapped and on display in a refrigerated case. Recommended in this category is the Piraeus, Bulgarian cheese with pesto and roasted peppers.
Other menu items and dessert: In contrast to bakery-cafés, bakery-restaurants have breakfast options, albeit limited in scope.
All Roladin outlets offer a Large variety of cakes, pastries and muffins, as well as refrigerated delicacies. The cheesecakes in particular are distinctive, one sugarless and two incorporating chocolate (including an Oreo cheesecake).
Price: NIS 19-34
Roladin. Kosher. Renanim Shopping Mall, Raanana. Tel. (09) 744-4889.
Ambiance: A storefront dominated by refrigerated display cases stocked with deli items, like those at the original Yom Tov Deli across the street that spawned this sandwich shop. There are a few tables indoors and on the sidewalk. There is a Hebrew menu on the wall, and a printed menu in English.
Beverages: Cocktails, shots, beer, wine and the deli’s own roast of coffee. In fact, the coffee—including the refreshing cold coffee with homemade almond milk—is only 4 NIS!
Sandwiches: There are three sandwich categories: meat (five), fish (six) and cheese (six). Sandwiches come in fixed combinations—you do not build your own—but there is also the option of ordering “freestyle”: you simply pick a category, and the experienced craftsmen behind the counter will build something new.
All food are kosher; and while both cheeses and meats are on display, they will not combine them in one sandwich. (Of course, you can always order two separate sandwiches and then combine them.)
Recommended sandwiches are the herring with spring onion, artichoke and mushroom; assorted cold cuts, with mustard, tomato and artichoke; and two kinds of cheese, with pesto and artichoke.
Other menu items and desserts: Besides sandwiches, there are platters of cheese, meat, or fish, with the names Dutch, English, Turkish, American and Italian. They can also be ordered as a meal, with unlimited bread and a cocktail.
There is only one dessert: a chocolate croissant.
Yomtov. Kosher (without certification). Levinsky St. 30, Tel Aviv. Tel. (054) 682-2020