Any visitor to Tel Aviv knows that a stop at the famous Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market) is a must. The colorful and bustling Tel Aviv market situated in the heart of the city is an overabundance of sounds, smells, flavors, and a sensory experience not to be missed. The market offers a variety of boutique stalls, food vendors, small eateries and of course, market produce. Selling everything from freshly baked bread to dates, candy, spices, and meat, there is no shortage of delicious options.
One of the best ways to explore the market is on our Tel Aviv Carmel Food Market Tour, a comprehensive and guided walking tour through the market, complete with a few yummy samples. For anyone planning to visit the iconic market, come hungry! Here are some must-eat foods in Shuk HaCarmel.
One of the most exciting things about visiting Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv is the abundant selection of fresh fruit and produce. In general, produce in Israel tends to be local and seasonal, rather than importing (although of course there are unusual imports), and as such the fruit is fresh, vibrant and delicious. One can always tell the specific fruit season just be the smell and color. For example, if it is the strawberry season, it is obvious because the fragrant smell of strawberries will fill the air, and piles of strawberries can be seen, showcasing their red color from the distance. Regardless of the time of year, the fruit is always fresh and seasonal, making it a definite must-eat food in the Carmel Market Tel Aviv.
Decadent, sweet and rich, Baklava is the ideal treat for a sweet tooth! Made from thin layers of phyllo pastry filled with a variety of nuts and glued together with honey, Baklava is a definite must eat food in Shuk HaCarmel. Baklava comes in different sizes and shapes, and each offers its own unique flavor profile. For example, some are filled with pistachios while others may include walnuts. It is worth tasting a few to find which are your favorite. Be careful, they may look small but they are filling! Ideal when paired with a piping hot coffee.
Another food for the sweet lovers, Halva is a staple of Israel and can be seen across the country in various shops, but eating fresh halva in the market is something that must be experienced by visitors. Halva is most commonly made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butter like pistachio butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter and combined with sugar or honey to create a dense, sweet treat. Halva can be made in a variety of textures, most commonly known are the giant slabs of Halva, stacked high with toppings like oreo, pistachio or other nuts. Other Halva is created in a “string-like” consistency, that almost has a cotton-candy like quality but is surely a unique taste and texture, making it a must-eat food in Shuk HaCarmel. Fortunately, in the Carmel Market, there are almost always samples being offered, so feel free to sample a few to find which flavor is your favorite.
Warm, doughy and delicious, bourekas are baked pastries, made from flaky pastry dough and filled with a variety of fillings. Bourekas are a common snack found across the country, easy to spot from their delicious smell, and most yummy when consumed warm. Common bourekas fillings include cheese, spinach, mushroom, potato, and the ever-popular pizza filling. Bourekas also come in all shapes and sizes, some are round, some are triangular and others are rectangular. It is fun to buy a few shapes and find out which filling is inside. Bourekas are the perfect snack which can truly be enjoyed any time of day, so you can even buy a few in the market and save them for later. Either way, bourekas are a must-eat food in the Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv.
One of the absolute must eat foods in Shuk HaCarmel is the delicious Druze Pita made fresh daily by the Druze women. Their stand is near the bottom of the market, near the Carmelit bus station and worth seeking out. Although it is called a “pita” the bread is made extra thin and has more of a crepe-like consistency. The pita is prepared fresh over a taboon, and if you’re lucky you’ll see the dough bubbling up. The pita is then filled with Labneh cheese, tabbouleh salad, olive oil, za’atar, and spicy sauce for those who like a little kick. For those who want a vegan version, the pita can be prepared with hummus instead of cheese. The Druze pita can be shared and enjoyed as a quick snack or works as a great lunch while exploring the market, leaving room for other nibbles and snacks along the way.
An obvious choice, hummus is something found all across Israel and each hummus spot claims to be the best. What makes hummus so good, is that each location has their own unique recipe, varying from the way the chickpeas are cooked, to the amount of tahini and lemon used to a variety of secret techniques. Regardless, hummus is a must-eat food in Shuk HaCarmel along with many other locations in the country. Perhaps the most famous in the market is called “Hummus HaCarmel”, tucked away behind the vendor stalls, the restaurant is built inside an old synagogue, and keeps the same motif. Simple, quick and delicious, it is definitely worth a bite. Other worthy hummus joints worth checking include Kalabuni hummus, The Syrian Son and Shlomo & Doron.
Israel is famous for its olives! With the ideal climate, olive groves are found in the upper Galilee region and depending on the time of year, different types of olives are in season. Plump, juicy, salty and always fresh, olives are a must-eat food in Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv. Furthermore, olive oil in Israel which is made from these famous olives is plentiful and easy to find in the market. Sample some or buy some to bring back with you, either way, you can’t miss the olives in the market.
Other items worth checking out in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market include spices and dried fruit. Read more about which spices to buy in Israel. You can also check out the souvenir section at the top end of the market (near King George).