Tel Aviv makes the global foodie top ten

Carmel Market, Tel Aviv / Photo: Shutterstock

Two new ratings praise Tel Aviv for its diverse selection of vegan food, its bars, the Carmel open-air market, and the city's tolerant atmosphere.

The tourist industry is saturated with ratings of destinations, hotels, entertainment sites, beaches, etc. These ratings provide ideas for vacationers in selecting their next tourist destination. When Israel stars in these ratings, it's a significant achievement.

The BBC recently rated destinations for foodie tourists, and Tel Aviv appears in its top ten.The BBC's most highly recommended foodie destination is Galway, Ireland. Galway was recently selected as a 2020 European Capital of Culture, with an estimated 1,900 arts and culture events. The BBC says that food will play a major role in the city's status. Galway's culinary recognition results from its flourishing food scene, including the Aniar restaurant, which won a high Michelin rating.

After Galway on the BBC's list is Lyon, France, which the BBC describes as the French culinary capital. In third place is Los Cabos, Mexico, a coastal city near the US border that boasts over 150 wineries, plus gourmet restaurants. Fourth on the list is the Netherlands. The BBC cites the cities of Rotterdam (with eight Michelin-starred restaurants), Delft, and Amsterdam, the latter for its sustainable food scene, including a restaurant located in a greenhouse with home-grown produce. Next is little Malta, which wins praise for its Arab and Italian culinary scene, followed by Marrakesh, Morocco, referred to by the BBC as "the very first African capital of culture."

What comes next on the list? None other than Tel Aviv. One factor that contributes to Tel Aviv's status is the city's vegan and vegetarian food, based on local agricultural produce. The city's cafes and bars are also mentioned and tagged as being especially friendly to the LGBT community. Also included in the recommendation are Tel Aviv's boutique hotels, some of which are located in Bauhaus buildings, and the Carmel open-air market, which is praised for its chef restaurants, "but the budget eats steal the show. For stellar street food there’s nothing like Tel Aviv’s hummus, falafel and shakshuka."

In eighth place is Scotland. In addition to its breathtaking vistas and wild natural areas, Scotland is mentioned as a destination for culinary tours that include whisky and gin chasers. The country that has become a tourist hit in the past two years, Portugal, received a recommendation for the beach city of Porto because of its plethora of local chefs and restaurants with broad price ranges, featuring The Yeatman with its two-star Michelin rating. Rounding out the top ten is the province of Cadiz in southwestern Spain, whose Andalusian food includes a wealth of local restaurants and excellent produce in Jerez, where the BBC instructs tourists not to miss the city's Sunday market.

Tel Aviv as a don't miss destination for vegetarian and vegan tourists

Another recent high rating garnered by Tel Aviv is from the Happy Cow website, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The website, which works through an app, has become an essential guide for vegetarian and vegan tourists. It covers 8,100 vegan restaurants worldwide, compared with only 625 a decade ago. In honor of its 20th birthday, the website listed the ten most recommended vegan culinary destinations, with Tel Aviv in a most respectable 9th place. Topping the list is London, with 152 completely vegan restaurants.

It is estimated that the UK has 600,000 vegans, making up 1.16% of the population. Among the restaurants mentioned in the recommendations is the largest vegan restaurant in the UK, Erpingham House, which opened this year. After London comes New York with 111 vegan restaurants and a wide variety of prices, one of which is the luxury niche, to which restaurants like Blossom and Avant Garden belong.

In third place is Berlin, followed by Los Angeles and Toronto, where veganism has been flourishing in the past five years. Sixth place is taken by Warsaw, which offers 50 vegan restaurants in the town center. Portland, mentioned as a magnet for hipsters and environmental enthusiasts, is in seventh place, followed by Bangkok. Some of the vegan dishes served in the Thai capital's restaurants are Buddhist-inspired. Exclusively vegan restaurants, referred to as "Jay" restaurants, are being opened at an impressive pace, with 42 such restaurants in central Bangkok, in addition to 67 vegetarian restaurants.

Tel Aviv is in ninth place. "Israel has the highest percentage of vegans globally, with an estimated 5-8% percent of the entire population being vegan," the website states. Many vegans live in Tel Aviv, home to 36 purely vegan restaurants, in addition to which street food, and fruit juice stands are found all over the city. Among the vegan restaurants mentioned are Anastasia, Four One Six, Hativonit J17, and Vivida. Also mentioned are Zakaim Vegan Boutique, Goodness, Meshek Barzilay Deli, Neroli Organic Juice Bar and Rawfood Diner in Neve Tzedek, vegan pizzeria Hatool HaYarok, and others. Following Tel Aviv on the list is the Czech capital of Prague, which offers 53 vegan restaurants, most of which were opened in the past two years, during which demand in this city of 1.25 million residents has been accelerating.

The compliments for Tel Aviv and Israel's food scene enhance the city's reputation and desirability as a tourist destination. At the same time, in order to enjoy the culinary advantages and a visit to Israel, tourists must be prepared to spend a lot. The cost of living in Israel also weighs on tourists, who mention the subject in their feedback on Israel after they have visited there. Eytan Schwartz, CEO of the Tel Aviv municipality's company Tel Aviv Global and Tourism, is familiar with this issue. "In the past five years, Tel Aviv has become the dish of the day on all the world's important food rankings. This is particularly true for the vegetarian and vegan scene in the city. In recent years, the Ministry of Tourism and we have been emphasizing culinary Tel Aviv in all of our campaigns, and this is unquestionably a winning formula. At the same time, we must not forget our challenges as a city, above all the cost of a vacation. Tourists, like Israelis, complain about high prices for entertainment, restaurants, bars, and especially hotels. The masterplan for tourism published by the municipality this year deals with creating free tourist content and encouraging cheap hotels. At the same time, our ability to influence the free market is limited," Schwartz states.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 5, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Carmel Market, Tel Aviv / Photo: Shutterstock
Carmel Market, Tel Aviv / Photo: Shutterstock
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