I was born in Transylvania, studied in Milan but grew up in Israel. Having just completed the top two floors at the iconic King David Hotel, I return there often. For me, Tel Aviv is like an Israeli Barcelona. It’s Mediterranean, it’s hedonistic, it’s culturally au courant. In nearly every facet—from architecture to design to food to fashion—the city is a cauldron of contemporary thinking, fueled by Tel Aviv’s famously strong espresso, consumed in massive quantities at all hours.
So many places and people in Tel Aviv inspire me, I can’t possibly list them all. Besides what I’ve already mentioned, here are a few more favorites. In addition to chef Eyal Shani’s HaSalon, I recommend his take on street food at Miznon (23 Ibn Gabirol; 972-3/716-8977), an imaginative riff on a Middle Eastern classic: the pita stand. Also don’t miss Jaffa Tel Aviv restaurant (98 Yigal Alon St.; 972-3/624-9249), run by the showman-chef Haim Cohen. Late night, I often check out Haezor (The Zone) (13 Ha Rachev; 972-54/446-7240), a music venue where, after the regular set finishes, there’s a freewheeling jam session in which nearly every musician in Tel Aviv eventually ends up. And beyond the King David Hotel (rooms, from $470; 23 King David St., Jerusalem; 972-3/520-2552; danhotels.com), the new Brown Hotel TLV (rooms, from $235; 25 Kalisher St.; 972-3/717-0200; browntlv.com), a stylish boutique hotel in the heart of the city, is a good choice. It’s decorated with art by Pilpeled (pilpeled.com), an Israeli street artist. I think it really embodies the new Tel Aviv.
Art: Besides the Holon Design Museum and the newly remodeled Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the city’s galleries are some of the world’s best. The Litvak Gallery, which specializes in glass art, is one of the most incredible places I’ve seen. It’s on the level of Gagosian Gallery or White Cube. At Museum Tower, 4 Berkovitz St.; litvak.com.
Architecture: Tel Aviv’s best-known architect, Ron Arad, designed the stunning Holon Design Museum in 2010. But it was the city’s Bauhaus architecture that earned it a Unesco World Heritage Site designation. At 8 Pinhas Eilon St., Holon; dmh.org.il.
Food: Israeli chefs are both creative and knowledgeable. Everything from street food to market-to-table can be found here. One of my favorite places is HaSalon, run by the charismatic chef Eyal Shani. Open only two nights a week, it’s an exercise in Israeli epicurean audacity. At 8 Ma’Avar Yavok St.; 972-52/703-5888.
Design: Israeli design influences the rest of the world. At Elemento, one of Israel’s leading designers, Yossy Goldberg, weaves Mod-influenced textiles with cutting-edge craftsmanship. At 15 Hazorfirm St.; elemento-design.com.
Fashion: Last year, the city hosted its first fashion week since the ’80s. Tel Aviv is now surging with designers who harness its sexy, heady aesthetic. Dorit Bar Or, who made her name as an actress before turning to fashion, combines the Middle Eastern influence in her collection of ornately braided kaftans, codesigned with Michal Monka. At 6 Koi Israel Haverim St.