There are seriously too many places to go for excellent food and drink in Tel-Aviv, but Levinsky Market is certainly among the most photogenic. The five-block strip in the city’s Florentin neighborhood was settled by Jewish immigrants from Greece in the 1930s, and they, along with the Iranians who entered the area a couple of decades later, quickly turned the street into a hotbed of eateries, spice shops and other spots for checking off the daily shopping list. You can get stuffed peppadews and fresh rolls at Yom Tov Deli, flaky burekas at Penso, or a refreshing drink and irresistible Instagram pic at Cafe Levinsky 41.
Proprietor Beny Briga and his partner Moshe Prizmant opened the cafe in 2012 to serve coffee, but his soda concoctions quickly became the main attraction. They’re a play on gazoz, a mixture of soda water and brightly colored fruit syrup that’s been popular in Israel for over a century. Briga serves an updated version, mixing seltzer with everything from sage, cloves, rosewater and melon to za’atar syrup, szechuan pepper and galangal.
The little slip of a storefront (just 4x6 square meters in size) is packed to the ceiling with colorful jarred fruits, aging herbs and spices, vases of leafy greens and little receptacles marked with titles like “Experiment 1: dried apricot & almond in syrup.” Lots of the ingredients are local; Briga says the greens come from local community gardens and the fruits are sourced from nearby market stands, as well as from the home gardens of generous friends. Briga is very into fermentation, he ferments his own ingredients in-house and also serves kombucha. No drink is the same and Briga says he works “freestyle” when creating the concoctions. The recipes are influenced by what’s in season and customers don’t get a say as to what goes into theirs. But, they’re sure to receive something beautiful, with a garden of produce spilling out of the cup. My recent order featured kiwi, purple basil and baby’s breath (the last item being admittedly more for show than for consumption).
As if the drinks themselves weren’t pretty enough, the shop itself is framed by a magenta bougainvillea draping over the entryway, and a wee ‘75 Susita pickup truck sits out front, the hood covered in potted plants and the bed serving as seating for patrons. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy your drink, which will taste especially good during a sweltering Israeli summer.
Just make sure to snap the perfect photo before enjoying your one-of-a-kind drink.