Tel Aviv is probably not at the top of many travelers’ lists — it’s known for being a bit expensive, and the idea of going to Israel seems dangerous to many people. But let me assure you, these are some big misconceptions. Tel Aviv is one of the safest cities I’ve ever been to. The views, people, and food are amazing. And, if you play your cards right, you can experience all this city has to offer on a budget.
Tel Aviv is a foodie paradise, and while the more upscale restaurants are worth the splurge if you can afford it, the street food is just as amazing and can save you a pretty penny. Here are my top cheap eats suggestions for the 6 best places to eat in Tel Aviv to satisfy all your cravings for under $10.
Sabich: Frishman Or Tchernachovsky
When you think of middle eastern food, falafel or schwarma are probably the first things to come to mind. But in Israel, the third member of this trifecta is the lesser-known sabich — a delicious mix of fried eggplant, potato, and hardboiled egg in a pita with all your usual fixings of hummus, tahini, and salads.
Ask a Tel Avivian where the best place is to go for this Iraqi-Jewish invention, and their answer will either be Sabich Frishman or Sabich Tchernichovsky, so you’ll have to try both to decide which is your favorite. Both are delicious, customizable, central and without any special requests (gluten-free, whole wheat pita, cheese, etc) they will only run you 23 or 18 shekels respectively — that’s about $5-6.
This Carmel Market favorite combines the classic Durban curry from South Africa with a Jewish favorite — challah bread. The little Bunny Chow stall offers three types of curry — beef, chicken, or vegetarian — stuffed inside a challah roll or on top of rice, all topped with yogurt sauce, fresh cilantro, and shredded carrot. While the meat options come in at just about $10 (38 shekels), the vegetarian bunny chow is only $8.
Their newest location in the new Rothschild Allenby market even has late-night menu offerings of a half-size portion for $6.50 (23 shekels) or a half-size portion and a beer for $9 (33 shekels).
Also located in the Carmel Market, Arepa’s is a Venezuelan owned and run food stand that serves delicious arepas and cachapas. Both options are made with corn flour, so it’s gluten-free for those with intolerances.
The arepas dough is cooked into a pita-pocket type bread right in front of you, then stuffed with a customizable combination of options — tomato, basil, black beans, chicken, beef, and avocado — then topped with cheese that is cooked to a crisp on the flat top grill.
The cachapas are like corn-flour pancakes filled with cheese and topped with butter.
Depending on your choice of fillings, everything costs 30 shekels ($8.50) or less.
Thai Food Takeaway
This Thai street food stall is a newcomer in the Carmel Market, but it’s slowly gaining popularity with the Thailand-loving Israeli crowd.
If you’ve ever met an Israeli over the age of 23, they’ve probably told you about their trip to Thailand and Southeast Asia. It’s a popular destination for young people who have just been released from their mandatory army service, so a stand like this is long overdue for an appearance.
If you’ve ever been to Thailand, a taste of this Thai chef’s fried rice, papaya salad, or pad thai will immediately transport you back. The food is bursting with authentic flavor and nothing costs more than 30 shekels, or $8.50 — a steal compared to the $12+ meals at every other Asian restaurant in the city.
Saluf & Sons
The flavorful, home-cooked Yemenite food served in a sit-down restaurant at street food prices makes this place a local favorite in Tel Aviv’s hip Florentin neighborhood. With friendly staff and good vibes, this is the perfect place for a cheap lunch or dinner.
While not every item on the menu at Saluf & Sons comes in under $10, most of them do, and their happy hour menu from 5-7pm every weekday has all the most popular menu items for 17 to 20 shekels (about $4-5).
If you’ve never had Yemenite food, this is a great place to start. They serve Israeli classics like shakshuka and hummus, as well as gluttonous Yemenite favorites like couscous stews, malawach, and jachnun.
Finally, no visit to Tel Aviv would be complete without some classic Middle Eastern cuisine and this restaurant, whose name literally translates to “the magician,” is the real deal. The food lives up to its name, everything on the menu is truly magical.
While HaKosem does have some higher-priced meat dishes, there’s no need to spend more than $10, as everything at this Tel Aviv favorite is delicious. The smell of freshly fried falafel and slow-cooking shawarma fills the street, and the options are practically endless. Any type of Middle Eastern food you’ve ever wanted can be found here.
Be forewarned, though — this place is so good that the line often snakes around the corner, so come early!
There you have it: The 6 best places to eat in Tel Aviv for under $10.
There is no limit to the types of food to be discovered in Tel Aviv, it’s a truly international city and its food (and this list) reflects that. No matter what your heart (or stomach) desires, this coastal city is the place to find it.
Author’s Favorite Travel Gear
Laser Lite Foam Earplugs: Earplugs are essential to ensure a great night’s sleep during any kind of travel or transportation. They’re also great if you’re sharing a room with others or your accommodations are on a busy street.
Texsport Waterproof Plastic Pouch Utility Bags: These bags are great for packing your toiletries and liquids. You can also use them to protect your phone, passport, and other valuables from getting wet during day trips.
Skin, Face, and Hand Wipes Travel Pack: These are good for any situation — taking off makeup, cleaning your hands before eating, or wiping up after doing outdoor activities. I always keep a spare pack in my purse or backpack.