Tel Aviv is an awesome travel destination and even more so if you happen to be vegan. Practically every restaurant and cafe in Tel Aviv offers vegan options that go way beyond a soy latte. Several places are actually vegan-only.
This week we got to try one of the leading vegan-only cafes and I'm here with a quick review of the experience.
In a hurry? Here's what you need to know
How to get there: The address you're looking for is 54 Frishman St, Tel Aviv. This is a very central location so you should be able to walk there if you're visiting The White City or one of the main beaches. Otherwise use Google maps to find public transportation or get a cab.
When: Opening hours are 8AM to 11PM. We visited on a Monday evening in July 2017.
Our Anastasia Experience
A few days ago we found ourselves in Tel Aviv with a couple of hours to kill on a warm and humid Monday evening. Tel Aviv is always fun for casual wandering on foot. The streets were busy and so were all of the cafes and restaurants we passed on our way. Happy Tel Avivians filled them up, some in air conditioned spaces and others seated outside across from huge ventilators.
We were looking for a place to eat. My husband is vegan and while I know vegan dishes are available practically everywhere, we wanted to try one of the newer places that are strictly vegan. I turned to my Facebook friends and asked for recommendations: What is the best vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv that's fun and affordable?
Both my vegan and non-vegan friends agreed that the very best vegan restaurant would be Anastasia. Seeing that we were only 800 yards away we walked to 54, Frishman street where we found yet another happy busy corner cafe: Anastasia.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
Most of the guests were seated outside on an elevated wooden deck. We chose to get inside to enjoy the cooler air conditioned atmosphere.
Inside, we were seated in the middle of a smallish space, surrounded by other customers as well as rows of shelves with all kinds of health food items and supplements. Clearly, the message of Anastasia isn't just vegan food. It's healthy vegan food.
We really enjoyed the ambiance. Sitting close to the kitchen we had a great view of the team of young energetic waiters and waitresses. Their style was just classic young Tel Aviv. Very trendy haircuts - hipster beards for the guys - and the most casual dress code you can imagine: denim shorts and tank tops. No buttons, no sleeves.
The guests were the same - all local, trendy yet very casual. That's Tel Aviv in the summer for you. Too hot and humid to dress up...
What we had to eat
Walking the streets, we felt more thirsty than hungry. Fortunately, as is the custom in many local establishments, a pitcher of cool tap water and two glasses arrived right away. Our friendly and attentive waitress refilled it twice during our meal without us having to ask for more water.
Here's a water tip for you: Traveling in Israel? There's absolutely no need to order bottled water. Tap water is clean and safe to drink everywhere. Wherever food is served, they are required by law to provide you with fresh tap water to drink. You may need to ask for water but they can't refuse to serve it and they can't charge you for the water either. Many places - like Anastasia - just serve you a pitcher of water as soon as you sit down which is really lovely.
Speaking of drinks, the menu offered a variety of tempting health shakes that we just had to sample. We shared a light green shake (they have a dark green shake too). Our shake was a mix of bananas, dates, parsley, lettuce, spinach, mint, walnuts and orange juice.
The shake was fruitier than I had expected with a very strong banana flavor and texture. Great for those who like it but a bit too much for me. Next time I'll try the dark green shake which has no bananas. My husband loved it and didn't leave a drop.
Our main dishes
We ordered two dishes and both were delicious!
My husband had a Shakshuka breakfast (served all day long). Shakshuka is a traditional local dish made of eggs poached in piquant thick tomato sauce. Anastasia has a wonderful vegan version with no eggs -
What looks like eggs is actually islands of rich tofu and polenta corn "yolks"
The shakshuka arrived with the traditional portion of bread, some olives and also three vegan spreads: tahini, smoked eggplant spread and delicious vegan cashew-based "cheese".
The shakshuka was delicious! Spicy and very fresh with moist succulent polenta "eggs". The spreads were excellent too. My husband loved the "cheese" one best but said they were all good. The bread was as healthy and tasty as one would expect and extra bread was brought to our table when we asked for it (at no extra charge).
I tried a completely different dish. The evening was too warm for a hot dish for me. The air conditioner was effective but I wanted something cool to eat. I was going to try one of the salads but the waitress suggested a soba noodles dish instead. She said it was served warm but not hot and was more of a salad than a hot dish.
I didn't regret following her recommendation. I got a lovely bowl with a pile of buckwheat noodles with all kinds of green goodies: kale, wakame seaweed, broccoli and green beans to name a few.
The dish was absolutely wonderful. The right balance of creamy and crunchy, seasoned to perfection. Who knew such healthy food can be so delicious?
We were pretty full but I really wanted to try one of the famous Anastasia desserts. We ordered two coffees and their cheesecake. No real cheese in it, of course. This was a piece of cashew and dates raw cake with an almond crumble.
Along with two soy-based ice coffees this was a lovely way to wrap up our meal. The cake was good. Nothing like real cheesecake if you ask me. Just a nice cake with a distinct lemony flavor. A friend later recommended their hot chocolate cake so we'll probably try that when we visit Anastasia again.
Our bill came to a total of just over 200 shekels - roughly $50 - for our meal. That's a reasonable price for what we got. Not your backpacker's budget meal but very reasonable for a hip restaurant in the middle of Tel Aviv. We shared the green shake and the cake but were very full. The portions were generous and the food delicious. No complaints here - we'll be back!
If you're looking for a vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv, I can wholeheartedly recommend Anastasia. They don't have a website but their Facebook page has their menu and other information you may need. And if you're looking for more stuff to do in the City that Never Sleeps, check out my post about 11 fun things to do in Tel Aviv.
Bon appetite and here's a pin you can use for your Pinterest boards!