Twenty-four hours in Tel Aviv, Jaffa
Artist, designer and Tel Aviv member Gal Vardi explores the local neighbourhood around our recently opened House, which is set in a former convent in Jaffa
Words and photographs by Gal Vardi
Gal Vardi is an immersive designer and artist who has lived in Tel Aviv for 15 years. She was born here, moved to Los Angeles as a teenager with her family, and promptly returned as soon as she turned 18. She creates immersive art experiences with mirrors, light installation, video art and music, and has a brand called Galisfly, where she designs geometric, colourful mirrors that distil the experience of her exhibitions into one piece for the home.
‘I love the energy in Tel Aviv,’ she says. ‘Every corner has something to do, even if it’s just to chill by yourself outside a cafe or on the beach. It’s sunny for most of the year, and the food, nightlife, and connection with the sea are all amazing. Everywhere you go, you see people you know. It’s vibrant, raw, unapologetic, and alive.’
Read on to join Vardi as she walks us through her favourite neighbourhood spots around the city, during a 24-hour stay at Soho House Tel Aviv, Jaffa..
Breakfast at Mirage Cafe
Get your morning started with a visit to Mirage Cafe, an excellent neighbourhood coffee shop tucked away in a warm wood-clad space near Park HaMesila. Grab a seat outside and enjoy a coffee while the neighbourhood wakes up. There’s a magazine rack that’s loaded with indie titles, and their fresh pastries are excellent.
Go for a walk along Park HaMesila
Just round the corner is a former railway line that has been converted into a linear park with lawns, cafes and colourful street art running along its length. Have a stroll and check out Shabazi Street nearby for boutique shops and art galleries.
Explore Kesh Limited
Not far from the park, you can find Kesh Limited, a streetwear boutique founded by fellow Tel Aviv member Keshnet Shapiro. The bright blue interior is filled with original designs and eclectic magazines.
Stop for lunch at Pizza Lila
A seven-minute walk will bring you to Pizza Lila, a popular neighbourhood restaurant in Levinksy Market. Grab a seat outside in the narrow lane and enjoy the pizzas served bubbling and crispy straight from the oven. Their salads make a refreshing accompaniment to the pizza, and their chocolate and Atlantic sea salt tart cannot be missed. Once a week, a local artist creates a drawing on one of their takeaway boxes, and DJs often perform here. Once you’ve finished eating, check out the rest of Levinsky Market for local spices, flowers, and delis.
Chill out on Banana Beach
Head over to Banana Beach for an easy afternoon relaxing by the Mediterranean Sea. Have a swim, rent a chair and umbrella on the sand, or grab a seat at the restaurant if you prefer full waiter service. You can try playing Matkot, an Israeli beach game similar to tennis, but more casual. If you’re hungry, there’s a kiosk here that sells takeaway pitta filled with hummus, chips and salad for $3.50.
Explore Nassima Landau
In the afternoon, walk over to Nassima Landau, an art gallery founded by Soho House member Steeve Nassima. The gallery focuses on international contemporary art, and holds several shows a year. Steeve has collected art since he was 21, with works by Yayoi Kusama among his early acquisitions. He’s now considered an expert on her work.
Dinner and cocktails at Dok
A 15-minute walk away, you will find Dok, a small, energetic restaurant that prides itself on cooking exclusively with local, seasonal ingredients. Their dishes are highly inventive, and are paired with a specialty cocktail menu that makes use of Mediterranean herbs grown in their garden. Grab a seat at the counter near the open kitchen and witness the theatrics of the kitchen unfold.
Drinks at TEDERfm
After dinner, walk over to the headquarters of TEDERfm, an online radio station. They are based in a large open courtyard that’s filled with hidden bars, eclectic events and experiences. There’s a popular pizzeria and a big beer garden, but my favourite place is a small record shop and bar called Nuweiba, hidden down a narrow passageway. Right in front of the shop is the DJ booth where performers play to the crowd in the courtyard. There’s a rotating programme of pop-up events by local designers and artists, so there is always something to do and people to see here.
Book a bedroom at Soho House Tel Aviv, Jaffa here.