Head of External Relations at the Design Museum Holon just outside Tel Aviv, Eyal de Leeuw is not only a natural tour guide, but as co-founder of Israel's leading men's fashion blog Ha-Garconniere, he is clued into some of the most interesting city sights and the latest in urban night life. I met de Leeuw last month during Holon Design Week, and the former cultural attaché kindly took me around during what little down time we had. Here are his top seven must-sees for the city often dubbed the NYC of Israel.
Located on the well-known Rothschild Boulevard, the multifunctional Rothschild 12 is anything and everything you want it to be. For the morning it's an excellent cafe to see and be seen and then later on a nice bar for an early afternoon drink. At night it's a lounge-like music venue hosting a weekly lineup of young Tel Avivian bands and DJs. The best thing is you can always return to fight the hangover with a lovely weekend brunch.
After Uri Lahav opened this nonchalant bar last year, Har Sinai became the ultimate hangout for both the hipsters and those who reject them. Before going out for a night of clubbing or at the end of a long working day, Har Sinai is a place to listen to great music and to find refuge in a small bar behind the largest Tel Aviv synagogue.
Cheesecake is a party line led by talented musician (and local star) Assaf Amdursky and wiz-kid Oren Marzam, hosted every Thursday at the Breakfast Club (as well as Milk, its sister club next door). A small and intimate party line, Cheesecake throws together international DJs, amazing energies and a great photographer who captures the hippest of Tel Aviv's gay-friendly crowd.
Joz & Loz
Laid back yet delicious, shabby-chic yet sexy, tranquil yet hectic—Joz & Loz has become one of the city's best hangouts, attracting clients from the creative industries. The restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a fresh and even poetic menu with secret performances by local musicians and long nights under the Mediterranean skies. Don't forget to order a Noga, the special house drink.
Every city needs a boutique hotel to host elegant guests from abroad for a lovely weekend. Enjoy a fine French-Vietnamese dinner and have a drink at the bar, where they serve the finest dirty martini in town.
With the absence of a serious center for contemporary art in Tel Aviv, many young and exciting art galleries have began opening up around town. Sommer Gallery has made an international name for itself by creating a new voice for the emerging Israeli art generation. While the main gallery shows an array of established local and international artists—such as Yael Bartana, Adi Nes, Darren Almond, Thomas Zipp and Wilhelm Sasnal—a smaller space in the gallery is dedicated for budding curators and artists.
Situated in the south of the city, Verner Boutique is a good stop on the way to the Jaffa flea market. The shop carries labels such as Maison Martin Margiela's MM6 line, Acne and Alexander Wang, as well as Israeli jewelry designers.
Design Museum Holon
Eyal was too modest to include Design Museum Holon, but I can personally attest to the fact that it deserves an extended visit. Designed by Ron Arad, the exterior alone is worth the trip. After the "Designers Plus Ten" exhibition closes later this month, Yohji Yamomoto will take over the main gallery until 20 October 2012.