AlegriaAmbiance: Located on busy ibn Gvirol Street, this veteran vegan restaurant, sister to the South Indian eatery Dosa Bar (also vegan), has only sidewalk seating, on very basic metal chairs and wooden stools.
Soup: There is an entire menu category titled Nice & Warm, which includes a Soup of the Day (e.g., miso soup with tofu) and a Dish of the Day that may well be a soupy curry.
Sandwiches: Four sandwiches, served on several different kinds of bread, are listed in the section titled More Than a Sandwich. In addition, there are three croissant sandwiches listed in the Morning section, along with a small sandwich that is served until 2pm (after which it is served as a larger version). Regular sandwiches come with a salad.
Recommended sandwiches are the probiotic cashew labaneh with greens on multigrain bread, and the black lentil and buckwheat veggie burger on sesame seed bun.
Other menu items and desserts: Since the restaurant is open from early morning to late night, there is a breakfast menu and an all-day menu, with starters, salads, cooked main courses (tavshilim) and daily specials.
The desserts, which the menu calls “goodies,” comprise three varieties of raw vegan cake, plus candies, including a box of chocolate truffles. The mock cheesecake with berries is surprisingly good for a non-dairy creation.
Beverages: Cold white sangria (warm red sangria is available in winter), beer, cold drinks and hot drinks (including the house blend of organic coffee).
Price: Soup, NIS 28-52; Sandwiches, NIS 29-49.
Alegria. Kosher (not certified). Ibn Gvirol St. 165, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 613-6964
Ambiance: Even though this bakery-cum-restaurant is situated on a corner of the busy Dizengoff Street, it has the vibe of a neighborhood cafe. There is a cozy interior and lots of sidewalk seating.
Soup: In winter, the menu expands to include a section titled TLV in the Winter, with a Soup of the Day as the first item. The daily soup and warm specials are also listed on the restaurant’s blackboard.
Sandwiches: There is a whole chapter of the menu titled Sandwiches Rule, comprising eight sandwiches served on variety of breads, including specialty loaves such as beetroot or brioche. Sandwiches can also be made with gluten-free bread. Sandwiches are served all day, but some are liable to sell out before the evening. They are served with a green salad and thassos olives.
Two English muffin sandwiches, which can be found in the breakfast menu, are served all day. There is also a toasted bagel sandwich on the vegan menu
Recommended are the chuma pepper ciabatta, with pickled lemon, tuna, hard-boiled egg, potato and olives; a croissant sandwich with Gouda cheese, porcini butter, fried egg and green onion; and the sabich bureka sandwich.
Other menu items and desserts: The menu is so extensive it is in the form of a book, with each section called a chapter. Chapters include starters, salads, pizzas, pastas and other main courses, vegan dishes, and a kids’ menu.
There are a number of desserts in the last chapter, including a distinctive creme brulee made with white chocolate. The bakery’s pastries usually sell out by the afternoon. There are also pre-packaged cookies and other sweet items.
Beverages: Specialty cocktails, fresh squeezed juices, wine, beer, smoothies, warm alcoholic drinks and hot drinks
Price: Soup, NIS 34; Sandwiches, NIS 44-49; English muffins, NIS 61-63.
Bread Story, Kosher, Dizengoff St. 88, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 528-3888
Ambiance: A two-story Jerusalem stone building that formerly housed a fine dining restaurant, with ample al fresco seating on a pedestrian street lined with other eateries.
Soup: There is only one soup on the menu: Smoked meat, mushroom and barley soup. With a soup as good as this, who needs another kind?
Sandwiches: The Hand Crafted Sandwiches section lists three sandwiches, plus a 300-gram BBQ Burger. There is also a kind of open-faced sandwich in the Appetizers section: pulled beef soft tacos. Sandwiches are served on freshly-baked frena bread; two of them come in two sizes.
Recommended are the Harvey’s Texas Beef Dip, smoked brisket au jus, and the Tex-Mex Chicken Club, mesquite smoked chicken club and cherrywood smoked lamb bacon.
Other menu items and desserts: Other menu categories are Appetizers, Salads, Smoked meats and Steaks. There are also excellent classic American side dishes, like coleslaw, onion rings, yams, fries and bean chili.
There are six desserts, including two pies and two that are chocolate-centric.
Beverages: Full bar, specialty cocktails, draft beers, craft beers, red and white Israeli wines
Price: Soup, NIS 38; Sandwiches, NIS 46-84.
Harvey’s. Kosher. Shimon ben Shetah St. 7, Jerusalem.
Lehem ErezAmbiance: This restaurant chain built around artisan breads has a branch in Kfar Saba that is distinctive: housed in a whitewashed two-story villa in the city’s downtown, its interior—and small al fresco porch—have a cozy feel.
Soup: Soups are listed in the menu under first courses. The French onion soup is served in a bread bowl, while the soup of the day is available in a regular bowl or one made of bread.
Sandwiches: The eight sandwiches listed in the sandwich section are served on a choice of the many varieties of Lehem Erez breads, although each sandwich comes with a chef’s recommendation; in fact, the eight sandwiches come on eight different kinds of bread. Sandwiches are served with a green salad, pesto spread and olives.
In addition to the standard sandwiches, there are three grilled sandwiches in their own section, plus five topped focaccias (like open-faced sandwiches), in the menu’s Taboon section, as well as three open-faced bruschetta in the Not on Bread Alone section. There is also a selection of small breakfast sandwiches.
Recommended are the popular vegetable omelet sandwich, and the Parisian focaccia (pepper spread, fried egg, caciocavalle cheese and arugula).
Other menu items and desserts: Additional menu sections are titled Breakfast, Not on Bread Alone, From the Taboon, First Courses, Toasts, Salads, Main Courses and a children’s menu.
There are no fewer than seven desserts, including cheesecake and a decadent savarina.
Beverages: Natural fruit juice, smoothies, milkshakes, bottled beer, house wine, soft drinks, hot drinks
Price: Soup, NIS 28; Sandwiches and focaccias, NIS 34-56
Lehem Erez, Kosher, Rothschild St. 55, Kfar Saba. Tel. (09) 771-6187
Spuntini Pasta BarAmbiance: A no-frills half-restaurant and half-deli furnished that still manages to be a handsome and inviting venue. There are two small tables on the sidewalk outside.
Soup: There are five varieties of soup that take turns being the one soup of the day. It usually sells out at lunchtime (the restaurant closes at 6pm).
Sandwiches: There are four kinds of sandwich (one vegan), made with lightly toasted focaccia bread (not panini). They are served with an assortment of olives. There are also two kinds of open-faced, pizza-style focaccia, as well as three small breakfast sandwiches.
Recommended are the Scopa (artichoke cream, Parmesan, zucchini, arugula and tomatoes) and the focaccia antipasto, topped with roasted vegetables.
Other menu items and desserts: Spuntini specializes in pasta, although there is also fish and salads.
The Italian desserts are rather unique, especially the torta caprese and sfogliatelle.
Beverages: Juice, soft drinks, bottled beer
Prices: Soup NIS 29; Sandwiches, NIS 15 (breakfast), NIS 29-39; Focaccias, NIS 32
Spuntini. Kosher, Ahad Haam St. 15, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 946-0590