This guide is for you if you’re looking for the best cafés and coffee shops in Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv has a true cafe culture, so there are cafes pretty much everywhere you go. People love to sit around in coffee shops, and the city’s large population of freelancers keeps things busy all day long.
Tel Aviv cafes are designed for comfort and long stays. You’ll feel welcome regardless of whether you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a quiet drink while people watching, or looking to settle in with your laptop. Pretty much all cafes offer free Wifi, which is usually pretty decent. In most places you can use your laptop anywhere, for as long as you want.
Different types of Tel Aviv Cafés
Tel Aviv offers several types of cafes. A familiar kind is the bakery / patisserie type of café that’s predominantly open in the day and serves cakes, pastries, sandwiches, and hot and cold drinks.
These are obviously not commonly used as “laptop cafes” and are also more popular with an older crowd, or those just wanting to grab something sweet and a coffee on the way somewhere else.
Another type is the bistro / borderline restaurant type of café where people come to eat, drink and hang out. These are usually very busy and loud and not likely to be a very good place to sit with your laptop.
Thankfully, the most common type of café is the kind that serves food (from light meals to sometimes quite hearty ones), coffee, and even alcohol (yes, you can drink alcohol in Tel Aviv till late, even in cafes), but is also set up to allow you to sit with a book, newspaper or laptop for extended periods of time.
In these cafes you will usually be left alone by staff to do your thing (sometimes even when you’re trying to order food). This is where most Israeli freelancers spend their days working, having meetings, or taking a break.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a traditional Middle Eastern café with strong black coffee, sticky baklava on the side and a friendly game of backgammon, head down to Jaffa where there are plenty of these. Also plenty of shisha / hookah places.
What’s the coffee like in Tel Aviv?
Israelis love strong, quality coffee, either Italian style or Middle Eastern style, so you’ll have no trouble finding a quality roast.
There are plenty of trendy hipster cafés with modern, quirky décor and cool-looking staff that will serve you single origin, locally roasted excellence in a cup. Lattes are extremely popular, and known in Hebrew as Cafe Hafuch, which stands for “upside down coffee” in Hebrew.
Strong, black Arabic coffee (called “Turkish coffee” in Israel) with or without cardamom is also pretty ubiquitous, and you can get the rest of the usual suspects, like Americano, cappuccino, cortado, etc.
Also on the menu are various herbal infusions (mint, sage, lemon verbena and more) with many places offering their own “house infusion” with their own unique blend of herbs and / or spices.
Tea is usually served the East European or Middle Eastern way – without milk. Most cafés carry Lipton tea, and local stuff that’s generally as bad. While you can buy popular British tea brands like PG tips, Yorkshire tea, and Twinings in shops, it’s very rare to see them served in cafés. You can ask for milk to be brought with your tea, though if you want to try that with the tea bags provided, you might want to ask for two teabags instead of one. This might be a good time to enjoy mint tea instead, though.
Chai is not uncommon and in winter you can also get creamy Turkish sahlev, honey-ginger-lemon, and mulled wine / cider. Summer brings a variety of iced drinks, including tea, coffee, slushies, fresh juice, and cordials. Try the Rosetta almond cordial, which is pretty nice with, or without arak. It served in some cafés, and you can also buy bottles of it at the market.
Starbucks and similar American offerings failed in Israel and are now gone (you can still find a Starbucks in Ramallah, I think, though it’s apparently an imposter). The closest you can get to what they offer are chai lattes and iced drinks, or weak instant coffee (“cafe nes”). Some of the more American-inspired places may offer other sweet coffee-based (and other) lattes too.
Top Tel Aviv Cafes
This is a very small list. The full DIY Tel Aviv guide has part of an entire chapter dedicated to cafés!
Please note: if you are looking for places like Café Sheleg or Albi, that used to be listed here, I’m sorry to say that they have shut down and no longer exist. The following are good places to go to instead.
Ben Yehuda 73 * 072-2495497 * Sun – Wed 8:00 – 21:00, Thurs 8:00 – 00:00, Fri 9:00 – 16:00
An arty, chic neighbourhood cafe popular with the local expat crowd (without feeling touristy). It offers a friendly vibe, a great menu combining local and international influences, and occasional evening events.
Levinsky 39 * 03-528-1843 * Sun – Thu 11:00 – 00:00, Fri 9:00 – 18:00, Sun 17:00 – 00:00
In the heart of the Levinsky Market, this busy café has a large outdoor space and some indoor space. There are sockets both inside and outside, making it a good place to work in the week (it gets too busy on Fridays / Saturdays). Popular with the local alternative / queer community, it serves an innovative menu of excellent food, drink and dessert options, with some very good specials.
Achad Haam 144 * 03-685-2326 * Sun – Thu 7:30 – 1:00, Fri 8:00 – 19:30, Sat 9:00 – 1:00
Just across from Israel’s national theatre, this place is always busy and full of local celebs, creatives, freelancers and other chilled locals. This long-established place is set across two spaces side by side, each offering both indoor and outside seating, with smoking and non-smoking zones. It has an innovative menu covering all the bases of local café favourites (with a twist) and also sells freshly made bread and condiments to take away.
Service is chilled to indifferent, but people keep coming for the vibe and the great food. If too busy (or too expensive), the little café in the hut across the road (on the boulevard) makes great drinks, sandwiches and cakes, and you can enjoy them while sitting on a bench or a woven mat under a tree.