They’re both on the coast. They’re both hubs of culture, art, and progressive thinking. They’re both world leaders in technology and global problem solving. How does a weekend in Seattle compare to a weekend in Tel Aviv?
There are so many things to do in Seattle these days, whether you are new to town or a Jet City native. Old favorites are still lots of fun along with many new places to try — with a sprinkle of Jewish/Israeli culture if you know where to find it. When I’m not
coordinating engagement opportunities in the Jewishly happening North End, you’ll find me exploring different neighborhoods with my family in search of the best pho, twice-baked almond croissant, and playgrounds. Here are my tips for spending 36 hours in Seattle.
Grab a bagel and head outside
With three locations around Seattle started by Canadian Jews,
Eltana’s hand-rolled, wood-fired bagels are a delight with perfect spreads, like honey almond or pomegranate cream cheese for your za’atar bagel, or plain on plain for those less adventurous eaters. Grab a coffee to go, and head down to the University of Washington’s Arboretum for a walk through the Japanese Gardens (where your kids can feed the koi for $2) and take a stroll through the marshes over bridges and paths to Foster Island. If the weather is sunny, rent a kayak and paddle around Lake Washington.
Stroll the Seattle shuk
Stop into the Seattle Aquarium — a great place to learn about the Pacific Northwest ecosystem with its touch tanks of sea anemones and starfish. From Pier 59, grab some fish-and-chips for lunch or head uphill to Pike Place Market, the shuk of all shuks in Seattle. We are a lucky city to have a cornucopia of neighborhood farmers markets all over town on different days of the week, but Pike Place is still the best, a local and tourist favorite. Open daily, the market offers a labyrinth of amazing produce, fresh fish, gorgeous flowers, and plenty of tchotchkes to buy. Be sure to visit the Three Girls Bakery, a Sephardic Jewish-owned establishment in the market. Gather up everything you need for a locavore Shabbat dinner with friends.
Catch a view (and a cocktail)
During our glorious summer, before the sun sets late and you settle in for candles, challah, and wine, find a spot to take in a beautiful view of our great city from Gas Works Park, the Maple Leaf Loop, or the top of Queen Anne or Beacon Hill. Even better, grab a happy-hour drink
while you watch the sunset. Go old school and have a drink at Ray’s Boathouse on Shilshole Bay with views of the Olympics and Puget Sound, or check out The Nest, a hip new bar at the Thompson Hotel downtown. Make good use of all our new bike lanes and get around on one of the citrus-colored rent-a-bikes around town — just don’t let your newly purchased Utilikilt from Pioneer Square get stuck in the wheels.
Take it easy!
After some leftover challah French toast from Grateful Bread, head to one of the many Shabbat services happening around town for all ages and denominations. Not the shul type? Pop into a yoga class, meditate, or read a book. As long as you’re wearing socks and sandals or flannel and fleece, whatever the season in Seattle — you’ll fit right in.
Wander through Fremont
One of Seattle’s quirkiest and most walkable neighborhoods, Fremont has many tasty lunch options. For international flavor, Café Turko brings the taste of Istanbul. For a Jewish penicillin fix, head to Roxy’s Diner for a bowl of matzoh ball soup. After lunch, check out the statue of Lenin, wave to the troll, and stroll along the Fremont Cut past Google before you take a tour of Theo Chocolate, Seattle’s very own fair trade, organic, kosher chocolate factory. Taste all you want in the factory store.
Order a double scoop
If you're not too tired yet, take a long walk along one of our beautiful beaches or wander through the Olympic Sculpture Park. Don’t wait for the ice cream truck to drive up: Instead, try one of our fancy ice cream shops in Seattle with various locations around town — Molly Moon's with adult flavors like Earl Grey, Stumptown Coffee, or Honey Lavender, or the award-winning Nutty Squirrel Gelato.
Grab dinner with friends
Relive your summer trip to Israel with your buddies at Eggs and Plants. Savor every bite of the best acronym sandwich on the planet: sabich (salatim/salad, beitzah/egg, and chatzilim/eggplant all in pita). This casual vegetarian restaurant is totally sababa — all good. Catch a movie afterward at the retro Cinerama a few blocks away — and be sure to try the chocolate popcorn.
Stay up late in the not-so-sleepless Seattle
You’d think with all the coffee we drink we’d all stay up late, but honestly, some of us haven’t been up past 10 p.m. in ages. Push bedtime back and head to South
Seattle for 21-plus nightlife. Take in a live show at the Columbia City Theater; grab a craft beer at Spinnaker Bay Brewing, Washington’s only 100 percent women-owned microbrewery in up-and-coming Hillman City; or try to score at Flip Flip Ding Ding, Georgetown’s retro-punk pinball joint.
I love Seattle and Tel Aviv equally. When I lived in Seattle, I spent my days popping into every eatery in Pike Place Market or cooking up local fish with a cookbook in hand. Now, although I still spend some of my time in Seattle every year, I currently live in Tel Aviv with my husband and three kids.
I would like to invite you to experience a weekend in my shoes, jam-packed with lots of local food, shopping, and plenty of walking! Tel Aviv is a city that is best discovered by foot or by bike, and taxis are a reasonably priced, great way to get around. The municipality puts a big emphasis on lifestyle: Wi-Fi is free almost everywhere, gym equipment is stationed along the beaches and parks, and lounge chairs are abundant. Step into the weekend with me!
Eat your heart out
The ideal Israeli breakfast starts at Mashya, a high-end restaurant nestled in a boutique hotel in the center of Tel Aviv. Chef Yossi Shitrit, one of the top chefs in the city, combines North African and Israeli cooking with delicate touches of molecular gastronomy. Israeli breakfasts are fabulous at any hotel, but Mashya has a buffet that goes on forever. Visualize fresh bread with homemade labneh (strained yogurt cheese), roasted peppers, goat milk yogurt in mason jars with toasted granola, and lots of shakshuka — including the white version with creamy yogurt sauce featuring eggplant, spinach, sumac, and almonds.
Shop the shuk
Head to Shuk HaCarmel, the market that represents the beating heart of the city. Get gifts for your friends back home, like Israeli lucky hamsas, the “Israeli” salad chopper that is taking the world by storm, or check out the humongous eggplants, rows upon rows of tomatoes, and street food galore. It’s all here. Take your time as you stroll through the stalls, biting through baklava, kubbeh (meat-filled croquettes), and halva. At the entrance, look for the Etrogman, an etrog juice stand that also sells etrog-infused healing products, like face creams. In the market, ask for the Bourika Guy (everyone knows him) and try a huge, deep-fried pastry filled with lamb and egg, all packed in a pita layered with sauces.
Carmel Market / HaCarmel Street
On Fridays (and Tuesdays), visit the Nachlat Binyamin craft fair adjacent to the market with streets full of knickknacks, clocks, wallets, and paintings by local designers. Here you can get amazing gifts to bring home for friends and family.
Find romance and architecture
Burn off all that delicious food while walking through Neve Tsedek — a romantic quarter packed with local architecture — and admire the
city’s winding streets, which are made for strolling and investigating the little boutique shops of local designers. If you have a sweet tooth, step into Anita for an incredible gelato that locals love to lick as they walk.
Neve Tsedek neighborhood: Around Shabazi Street; Anita / 25 Shabazi St.
Join locals for Shabbat dinner
Plan your Shabbat ahead, and join an EatWith dinner. EatWith is a local company that lets you join other people’s dinner parties, with everything from local Middle Eastern cuisine to traditional Shabbat dinners on offer. What do you want to try?
Try the Friday food scene
Alternatively, head over to North Abraxass for contemporary Israeli food by renowned chef Eyal Shani. Don’t expect too many plates, as everything is served on paper and napkins, and discover how tomatoes and cauliflower take center stage while sipping anise-flavored arak to local music.
Jump-start your morning
Grab one of the Tel-O-Fun bikes and cycle your way through the city up along the beautiful Namal (port) and the beach. Or just speed walk through the city while you take in the salty air and the beach vibe. If you like to start your day with yoga, visit the Hanna House, a wellness center with yoga, pilates, and meditation classes all day long.
Head over to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel’s leading cultural institution, and discover the many exhibitions of local art from the beginning of the 20th century to the present, prints and drawings, intricate architecture, and rotating exhibits. You can even explore the newest wing, the Herta and Paul Amir building, which was designed by the American architect Preston Scott Cohen. This is a five-story complex with interior rectangular halls connected by bridges, which creates a remarkable flow of light and movement.
Peruse a market
Spend the day at Sarona, Israel’s fashionable indoor food market. Walk through stalls of local artisans, with everything from chocolate and wine to small eateries by local chefs. Outside is a beautiful, open-space pebblestone area with gardens, lily pads, play structures for the kids, and flowers, all built on a Templar colony that is over 140 years old. Live shows and concerts for families are happening all the time, so get yourself some cheese and some wine and settle down for a picnic in this dreamy, stroll-worthy area.
Spend Motsei Shabbat in Jaffa
End Shabbat with a special dinner in Jaffa at Kalamata, where you can ask for the window seat overlooking the stunning waterfront while you munch on the local catch of the day, grape leaves, and roasted eggplant with feta and an olive tapenade. Afterward, stroll the waterfront along beautiful Jaffa.
Party all night
If you’re keen on discovering the Tel Aviv nightlife and a true cocktail crowd, head to Jasper on Dizengoff Street, a sexy bar hidden behind a huge door. This crafty cocktail spot heats up as the evening progresses and people party until the early morning hours. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample drinks by Elad Baruch, who holds the title of Israeli World Class Bartender for 2016.
Jasper / 190 Dizengoff St.
See more inspiring photos of Tel Aviv by Itai Fortis on Instagram @itai.fortis.