And the winners are ....
For those of you that are unaware (if there are any of you still out there), Israel has quite a vibrant and creative culinary scene. We already know that Tel Aviv is often referred to as "the vegan capital of the world," but the accolades keep growing.
The list is long so here are just a few of the Israeli restaurants that won the American Express Culinary Excellence Awards!
#1 Restaurant : Ruttenberg! (don't be deceived by its looks!)
Rutenberg - Best Restaurant
The little-known and remote restaurant in the Jordan Valley has been crowned Israel’s best restaurant. A kibbutz couple Hila and Yizhar Sahar create treasures made from nature’s nearby gardens. The environment is extraordinarily down-to-earth (really simple) but the white tablecloths, incredible service, and superb food create the fine dining!
No cocktails, but an excellent wine list!
No written menu, as it changes daily and per meal.
The home-baked bread is not to be missed as well as the gluten-free option of cornbread.
Best Chef - Rahav, Raz (OCD)
Chef Raz Rahav is no stranger to these lists. His OCD restaurant in Jaffa has won multiple awards and ranked #3 in the list of 50 Best Restaurants in the Middle East & North Africa. Granted, not everyone is up for making reservations more than 1 month in advance, listing any allergies, and being ok with whatever the Chef chooses to serve that evening. It is a true culinary experience, although not for those that don't easily relinquish control!
However, he is bringing another culinary experience into Tel Aviv!
Afui (the Hebrew term for "baked") specializes in custom-made breads, cakes and desserts for the hospitality sector.
He is also introducing an exclusive wine bar called Tirza with over 200 vintages of wine, sommeliers to help you choose and a few tapas to pair with the wines. On the side, they will have products from Afui to take home or pair with the delicious to-go coffee.
AND AGAIN .... Best Street Food - HaKosem
My sons' favorite! Located in a busy area, in the heart of Tel Aviv's Dizengoff district, this place can't be missed because there is ALWAYS a line! Get your food, grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables (if you can find one), sit on the sidewalk, or just take it to go!
Don't miss the crunchy falafel balls, the homemade hummus, and the gently fried pale eggplant slices. There is also a tasty dish of slow-cooked rice with chickpeas.
Who's ready to eat and drink their way through Israel???
While we only highlighted the food here, the wine industry has also been put on the map!
You'll have to taste it and drink it to believe it!