Meat restaurants in Israel have come a long way since the days of neighborhood “steakiyot.”
Not only does Israel now import prime USDA choice beef from Nebraska and exclusive Wagyu and Kobe beef from Japan, but ranchers on the Golan Heights are breeding excellent cattle and supplying butcher shops and restaurants with fresh meat that is never frozen.
What follows is a list of five establishments specializing in preparing thick, juicy steaks grilled just the way you like them. The list is by no means exhaustive, of course; and there are also a good number of fine dining restaurants that serve excellent steaks alongside their many other menu offerings.
Among other criteria, the steakhouses have been chosen for the manner they cater to English-speaking clientele; and in Part 2 of this series, the plan is to include several that are certified kosher. As usual, the entries are not ranked but rather listed alphabetically.
Ambiance: This popular butcher-cum-restaurant chain from northern Israel expanded southwards about five years ago, with a suburban location in Kfar Saba and another in the heart of Tel Aviv. The branch located opposite Sarona – whose grand opening we covered on these pages – boasts a pleasant al fresco seating area, in a large plaza (Givon Square) filled with other eateries. There is slightly more comfortable furnishing (plus A/C) indoors, along with seating at the fully stocked bar.
Hours: Daily, 11.30-23.00; Hamburgers are 1+1 on Sundays for loyalty club members; value lunches are offered Sun.-Thurs., 11.30-17.00.
Wine and alcohol: There is a bilingual alcohol and wine list (although the five specialty cocktails are not updated in English), with three beers on tap. Israeli wines predominate on the list with – appropriately for a meat restaurant – more choices of red than white. A reasonable number are available by the glass, also monthly specials from rotating wineries.
Menu: The food menu comprises eight sections: Starters, Salads, Steaks, Sandwiches, Hamburgers, Main Courses, Side Dishes and Kid’s Meals. The main courses are also mostly meat, with a few chicken options, so vegetarians/vegans will have to stick to the dishes among the appetizers and salads. There is a separate dessert menu featuring Middle Eastern and Western favorites.
Steaks: Three steaks are served by the portion – rump steak, entrecôte and filet mignon – while an additional four are served on the bone and priced by weight. Steaks are accompanied by a choice of optional sauces: chimichurri and/or a garlic-herb butter sauce. The filet, which comes with truffled mashed potato, is notable.
Angus. Not kosher. 20 Ha’arba’a St, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 771-5733
B12 Meat Station
Ambiance: The Tel Aviv branch of the small Netanya-based chain is located on the opposite side of Givon Square from Angus. Appropriately for an establishment whose logo is a train, the restaurant has a train dining car feel: narrow, with rather dim lighting, and furnished with both high and low tables indoors, and a few tables in the rear outdoors. Most patrons choose to sit indoors at the low tables in the back.
Hours: Sun.-Fri., 12.00-0.00l closed Saturdays. Value lunches, Sun.-Thurs., 11.00-16.00.
Wine and alcohol: The restaurant serves no cocktails whatsoever, although it offers imported and domestic beers on tap and in bottles, including craft beers. The wine list consists of only three wines, all available by the glass and bottle – one white, one red, and the Israeli house wine which rotates.
Menu: The bilingual one-page menu consists of three sections: Starters, Main courses and [two] Sides. There are also daily Specials (explained by the wait staff), which may very well feature some items not often found in other steakhouses, such as BBQ pork spareribs and pork sausage with cheddar. Only one dessert is listed, but there are actually two: chocolate mousse and cheesecake.
Steaks: Six steaks are listed among the main courses, with no separate heading. Only the entrecôte is priced by weight, while three of the pre-portioned steaks are beef, one veal and one pork. The steaks are professionally grilled and served on grooved, wooden platters.
B12 Meat Station. Not kosher. 12 Carlebach Street, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 732-7888.
Havat Zuk (Zuk Farm)
Ambiance: Somewhat surprisingly located in a tranquil alley in an upscale residential neighborhood, most of the seating is on an al fresco patio decorated with green vines (and enclosed in the winter). There are a few indoor tables, along with a deli counter and an open kitchen.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, Saturday, 12.00-22.00; Friday, 12.00-16.00 (regular menu); 17.00-23.00, Chef Assaf’s Shabbat feast. Closed Sundays. Value meal deals are offered throughout the day.
Wine and alcohol: The restaurants serves specialty cocktails and Israeli beers on tap and in bottles. The exclusively Israeli wine list is limited but adequate, with an equal number of reds and whites, all available by the glass. The servers are generous with tastings before you make your final selection of vintage.
Menu: The bilingual food menu is tweaked seasonally, but always contains eight sections: Starters, Salads, Bone-in Steaks,, Sandwiches (including hamburgers and steak), Kids’ Menu, Sides/Fries and Specials. Vegetarians/vegans can get by with a salad and vegan burger. Desserts are explained orally by a friendly wait staff that speaks excellent English.
Steaks: Three bone-in steaks sold by weight are on the permanent menu – New York (sirloin), entrecôte (ribeye) and T-bone. There are also occasional specials, like prime rib. Each steak is served with one complimentary side dish. All the beef is raised on the Zuk family farm, and aged on the premises.
Zuk Farm. Not kosher. 5 Moshe Perlock Street/4 Zaritzky Street, Tel Aviv. Tel. (077) 515-5905.
Ambiance: NG is a decades-old Neveh Tzedek institution tucked inside a secluded lane that has become part of the neighborhood’s new Ahad Ha’Am pedestrian mall. The cozy interior, dominated by a fully stocked horseshoe bar, boasts a tiny porch with a few tables that in turn gives out onto a synthetic grass lawn that sets the scene for a spacious al fresco area, made all the more attractive by festoons of colored lights.
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 18:00-23:00; Friday, 16:00-23:00; Saturday, 12:00-23:00. Special meals, like Barbarians’ Feasts and Sharing Tables, are occasionally scheduled, or may be ordered as private events.
Wine and alcohol: The cocktail lists features mostly classics, with a few specialty twists, while the one Israeli draft beer is complemented by both domestic and imported bottled beers. The international wine list favors Israeli vintages, with enough foreign entries to make things interesting, and an adequate selection available by the glass.
Menu: The straightforward menu consists of four sections: Appetizers (including salads), Grill, Side Dishes and Desserts, with one Vegetarian and one Fish dish as the lone non-meat main courses. The Grill category not only encompasses the unique NG house hamburger, with optional premium toppings, but even a unique new addition: vegan flank steak from REDEFINEMEAT that looks like the real thing.
Steaks: All steaks except the filet are priced by weight, including the boneless entrecôte and hanger steak. The bone-in steaks comprise porterhouse, NY cut (sirloin), prime rib and a rotating special cut of the day. The sizzling hot steaks are served on an equally hot iron plate.
NG. Not kosher. 15 Yehuda HaHasid St., Tel Aviv. Tel. 073-7788053.
Porter House by Hinnawi
Ambiance: This spanking new restaurant in Upper Nazareth, which opened just this spring, is the most ambitious project yet of the Hinnawi Wine and More chain. The sleek, modern steakhouse is part of a commercial complex that includes a wine and liquor store, a premium butcher shop, a deli, a meat aging room, a wine cellar, a cheese shop and even a cigar room. The long narrow dining room and fully stocked bar are entirely indoors.
Hours: Daily, 12.00-01.00. Value lunches are scheduled to be offered in the near future.
Wine and alcohol: There is a short but adequate international wine list, comprising primarily whites and reds, with two roses and two sparkling wines. There is an extremely limited selection by the glass. The cocktail list is still being prepared, and the only beer is San Miguel Especial, on tap. (Of course, whatever is lacking from the printed wine list may always be supplemented by a bottle purchased in the adjacent store.)
Menu: The kitchen is helmed by talented Chef David Elmakis, formerly of the fine dining establishment David veYosef in Tel Aviv. He has crafted a menu that complements steaks with dishes inspired by Mediterranean and Galilean cuisine, beginning with Appetizers (including bread), then First Courses (including salads), Main Courses (including hamburgers, pre-portioned steaks and one fish dish), Bone-In Steaks, Side Dishes, and .
Desserts (surprisingly drawn only from Western tradition).
Steaks: There is a wide selection of both pre-portioned and bone-in cuts, all aged up to 120 days. The former category includes filet, lamb T-bone and entrecôte from either Wagyu beef or Black Angus. The bone-in steaks feature prime rib, porterhouse and tomahawk.
Porter House. Not kosher. 3 Ma’ale Yitzhak Blvd., Nof Hagalil. Tel. (077) 500-3626.