Sarona Market — The Tel Aviv Hotspot for Food Culture
By Sydney Brown
If you’ve been to Tel Aviv for any period of time, you’ve probably been to Sarona Market. If you haven’t been to it, I’m sure you’ve heard rave reviews through the grapevine. After opening in 2015 Sarona Market became the largest enclosed culinary market in Israel, and it revolves around a love of food culture, featuring a large variety of global flavors spread across several house-like restaurants. Located in the heart of Tel Aviv with both indoor and outdoor sections to explore, this market is a hotspot for foodies. Last summer, when I was living in Israel, I lived about five minutes from Sarona Market, and I spent the majority of my weeknight dinners there. Let’s explore the popular vendors at Sarona and the worldly flavors that they have to offer.
The first extremely popular vendor at the market is Rotisserie Chicken Club, which you can probably guess has some incredible chicken options, along with an array of healthy side dish choices. The chicken options include everything from grilled chicken breast and schnitzel to a full rotisserie roasted chicken. Another traffic point in Sarona Market is Fiori, an amazing Italian spot with a huge selection of pasta shapes, sauces, and vegetables to add as toppings. They have short pastas like penne, long pastas like fettuccine, and even ravioli filled with sweet potato, spinach, and goat cheese. Their most popular sauce choice is definitely the rose cream sauce, but all of their ingredients are incredibly fresh — even the olive oil and garlic combination is a winner!
Out of all the restaurants crowded into Sarona Market, by far my favorite one, without a doubt, is Pita Basta, an unbelievably delicious pita shop located right next to Rotisserie. This restaurant is fast and consistent, and the best choice in my opinion is the pulled chicken pita with tahini, tomatoes, pickles, cabbage, and fries on the side. The most special part of Pita Basta is that they save the part of the pita that they cut off at the end to make it a pita pocket, frying it into the most remarkably crispy bread stick topped with olive oil and zaatar. People are often seen passing by and stopping just to grab a crispy pita stick on their way out. Aside from the popular restaurants inside of the market, there are also impressive selections of places with Mediterranean goods like fresh spices, dried herbs, dates, baked goods, and chocolates.
The Duality of Sarona Market
While on one hand you can get relatively cheap, filled to the brim pita for dinner at Sarona Market, you can also find higher end, more expensive restaurants outside the perimeter of the market, like Claro. Started by chef Ran Schmueli, Claro features a farm-to-table inspired menu with influences from the Mediterranean. Some of their popular dishes include the ruby clementine salad with local halloumi, citrus vinaigrette, and chili, the raw Mediterranean fish appetizer with tabbouleh, yogurt, and pistachios, and the roasted Jerusalem artichoke with garlic cream, feta cheese, and roasted onions. Many of the dishes listed on the regular menu have the option of being made entirely vegan, as the restaurant highly respects and takes inspiration from plant based eating. Aside from their popular dinner service they have a well regarded brunch selection too, with popular dishes such as shakshuka served with challah, maple strawberry pancakes, and the eggs benedict with a zaatar hollandaise. Tel Aviv natives and visitors have praised Claro as a top restaurant in the city, saying that the “whole experience [is] amazing” and that “Claro is the best place to dine in Tel Aviv… Fantastic menu and service!”
The Exterior of Sarona Market
Sarona Market is also used for event spaces and celebrations. During my time in Tel Aviv, I attended the International Day of Yoga hosted outside of Sarona Market. There were two to three hundred guests packed into a grass field outside of the market, with yoga instructors leading an hour-long event. Following the event, the guests were encouraged to grab dinner inside the market and to check out the popular vendors. Other cultural events happen often at Sarona Market, like wine tastings in the outside area for people to enjoy, and a farmers market that is held weekly.
International Yoga Day 2021
Sarona Market is an amazing place to explore when visiting Tel Aviv, and also a great place to visit if you’re a Tel Aviv resident. With so many options for global cuisines, cultural activities, and great vibes, Sarona Market will offer you more and more every time you visit.