During my two months living in Tel Aviv this summer, I gave myself a mission: to explore every aspect of the Tel Aviv food scene. While I wasn't able to knock off every Tel Aviv restaurant on my colossal bucket list, there are 10 places you just can't miss. There's way more beyond falafel, shawarma, and Birthright hotel food.  

Tel Aviv cuisine is far more daring and diverse than you'd ever imagine with culinary influences from all over the world. From Middle Eastern, to Yemenite, to Ethiopian, and everything in between, Tel Aviv represents food of nearly every culture. 

With Israel having the most vegans per capita in the world (a whopping 5%) and with the third highest sushi market per capita in the world, Tel Aviv offers something for every foodie.  Waiters pour shots, or "chasers," on the house post-meal, customers dance on bar tops, and dogs are treated like first-class patrons in restaurants. There's really no dining experience quite like an Israeli one. Here are the 10 things you need to try on your next trip.     

1. Miznon 

Okay, I lied. I do have to share one pita place with you.  But this is far from basic Israeli street food. Miznon is the best pita in the world.  With bold flavor pairings, the freshest ingredients, and unimaginable choices for meat and veggie lovers alike, I'm not sure why "best pita in Israel" is still a debate.  While you're at it, be sure to get your hands on their whole head of cauliflower.  Cauliflower and pita will never be the same.  

2. Saluf & Sons

The ideal scene to take in Jewish-Yemenite food, music, and atmosphere, we quickly became Saluf & Sons best customers. Don't leave without sampling their kubaneh, a Jewish-Yemenite pull apart bread traditionally served on Shabbat) and of course malawach (the flaky thin layers of puff pastry still linger in my dreams every night). With their happy hour specials on week nights for food and drinks, it's hard not to become a regular.  I promise you'll fall hard for this fun and festive dinning experience.   

3. Benedict 

seafood, fish, cheese, bread, salmon, platter
Isabella Kornitsky

Benedict may be the most main-stream brunch spot in Tel Aviv, but for good reason.  With a million options to choose from, unlimited breadbaskets, avocado hummus, and the best vegan chickpea pancake in the city, Benedict makes it difficult to stay away for long (not to mention they're open 24/7).  

4. North Abraxas 

If you're in the mood to treat yourself to a totally out of the ordinary meal, North Abraxas is home to one of Tel Aviv's most acclaimed chefs. The menu is constantly changing to accommodate the freshest produce, and all meals are served on brown paper bags. But don't let the paper bag presentation fool you on the ambiance. Even NBA star Omri Casspi dined next to us during our last visit.     

5. Cafe Xoho

Possibly Tel Aviv's most instagrammable brunch destination, Cafe Xoho is home to deliciously healthy, made in-house dishes.  The hangout, particularly popular among international tourists and locals, serves up tons of vegan and vegetarian options, hand rolled bagels, spicy Bloody Marys, and amazing coffee and matcha lattes. 

6. Ha'achim

The first, and one of the best, meals I ate in Tel Aviv was at Ha'achim, which translates to "the brothers."  Introduced to me by Israeli family friends as their favorite restaurant in the city, Ha'achim did not disappoint.  Be sure to bring a crowd to feast on as many dishes possible.

7. Anastasia

bread, toast, salad
Isabella Kornitsky

Anastasia serves up healthful vegan food that even non-vegans will dream about.  Voted the best vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv, Ansatasia has über-nutritious, vegan, raw, and gluten-free options, not to mention the best vegan cheese I've ever laid my eyes on.  Their vegan shakshuka, with fluffy tofu "yolks" that nearly melt in your mouth, is hands down the best shakshuka I've ever had. 

8. Nanuchka

Another local vegan favorite, Nanuchka puts a twist on traditional Georgian food that could make even the ultimate carnivore happy.  Must tries include: Nanuchka's dumplings, breads, pastries, and the vegan twist on chraime, a traditional Sephardic fish dish served over spicy tomato sauce.  

9. Any Shuk

lobster, crab
Isabella Kornitsky

While there are plenty of fine restaurants to explore in Tel Aviv, shuk eats are undeniably part of the Tel Aviv food experience. Deep in the hustle of Carmel Market lies hidden treasures like bourekas, halva, kebab, shawarma, falafel, and my favorite: Venezuelan arepas.

10. Hamalabiya

corn, rice, sweet, cereal, milk
Isabella Kornitsky

I couldn't forget my favorite malabi, a Turkish-influenced Israeli rosewater pudding topped with vanilla and rosewater syrup. Right next to Shuk Ha'Carmel, this mouthwatering pudding is the perfect treat to grab on your way to the beach. 

Hopefully you'll squeeze in all these foodie destinations on your next trip to Israel, but in the meantime we can share in our nostalgia for Israeli cuisine. The Tel Aviv restaurant scene is home to much more than the typical Birthright pit stops, and I welcome you to explore all it has to offer. Yalla!