If you really want to get to grips with Israel’s second city, its markets should be your first port of call – these sprawling bazaars are where pals meet over heaped plates of hummus, bargain hunters linger over chintzy souvenirs and vintage gems, and locals of all stripes expertly haggle down hardened stall-owners. But if you go in totally blind, you may get lost in the throng of confused tourists trying to buy a torah scroll keychain for an absurd sum of shekels. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back – follow our tried-and-tested tips and you’ll dominate the markets without problem.
Which Market Should You Visit?
Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market)
The biggest and baddest of all of Tel Aviv’s shuks, Carmel is, in many ways, the city’s epicentre. The market is divided into two main bits: the northern part – which is where you’ll find stands overflowing with clothing, children’s toys, and a mind-scrabbling mix of obscure knick-knacks – and the southern part, which is where the food stalls live. The whole thing is a beautifully chaotic mess, packed full of shoving shoppers and bellowing stall-owners hawking their wares. We recommend shoving your gob with as much delicious halva as you can find, and getting out of there before the pre-Shabbat mob hits on a Friday afternoon.
For the absolute best fried chickpea balls, don’t skip Falafel Rambam, smack in the middle of the market. You’ll recognise it for the group of stall-owners permanently hanging around, happily chowing down on their wraps. And just next door, on HaCarmel St, is where you’ll find the Burika Center – another popular stall serving a different pitta dish, here stuffed with crispy dough filled with potatoes or eggs. And if you’re after hummus, make a beeline for the Kerem (Yemenite Quarter) just outside the market – specifically Hummus Masabacha, where giant bowls of the stuff come piled on with fresh herbs, eggs and pools of olive oil. At the end of your shuk crawl, grab a table at The Minzar on Allenby St, a buzzy bar that serves cheap booze and home-cooked dishes made from that day’s market produce.