Sun-Thurs 8-24; Fri 8-18; Sat 10-24
The first time I walked past Café Barnash I noticed the fedora on the restaurant’s sign. I was intrigued. When I noticed that the hat also appears on their business cards and bumper stickers that accompany each check, I was left with a nagging curiosity. With the warm energy that fills Cafe Barnash, I felt comforatable asking the co-owner Noa the meaning behind the symbol. She explained that “Barnash” in Hebrew means “gentleman-gangster” circa the 1920’s. For example, for the musical “Guys and Dolls” “guy” in Hebrew is translated to “Barnash.” The café’s playful name is a reflection of the hip, mysterious, yet relaxed atmosphere that Café Barnash offers.
Since walking by the first time, Café Barnash has become one of my favorite neighborhood haunts to grab a cool drink, tasty burger, or a sophisticated dinner. Just off busy Bograshov Street, near the intersection with King George, one will find inside an oasis from hectic city life. There’s nothing like sitting outside where the porch is raised, surrounded by calming foliage feeling the pulse of energy as people walk along the sidewalk.
One of the most notable things about Café Barnash is their incredibly delicious burgers. The Barnash Burger is juicy, flavorful and is made infinitely better by the homemade garlic aioli that comes on the side. My roommate Lauren commented that it was “the best burger she had ever tasted, ” this coming from a girl raised in Wisconsin, cow country! What makes the Barnash Burger so mouthwatering is that all of the ingredients are fresh. The best part is that one can enjoy the burger at a delectably excellent price. Every Tuesday Cafe Barnash pays tribute to their customers by offering a special burger deal. Currently the deal includes a burger, a choice of many sides, and a beer for 55 NIS.
Although both owners aspire to present the tastiest burgers in town, it’s certainly not the only fabulous item on the menu at Café Barnash. The exciting menu includes some traditional Israeli comfort foods such as schnitzel, shakshuka, and all day breakfast classics. I especially recommend the mashed potatoes that come as a side with the schnitzel. They are buttery and creamy and you can tell that they are made with love. Eating their schnitzel and mashed potatoes brought me back to my dining room at home when my grandma would make her “Grandma Rosie Chicken,” Grandma’s ultra comforting version of schnitzel.
The classics are all delicious at Barnash, but Noa encourages costumers to try one of the unexpected dishes on the menu thought up by the young and talented chef, Almog Ben Dror. A section of the menu is called ‘Barsnacks,” which are unique dishes such as beet salad with Roquefort cheese as well as fried cauliflower with pickled lemon dip. These bar snacks are more thoughtful, innovative, and tastier than your average bar food. The fried cauliflower, was my personal favorite on the bar snack menu. The crisp rich cauliflower was balanced by the zest of pickled lemon, adding an interesting kick and making it a delightful paring with a light summer beer.
While eating any of the cafes dishes, creative or comfortable, nothing is more apparent and appreciated as the freshness of the ingredients. The joke at Barnash is that even if they wanted to keep something frozen they don’t have enough room in the kitchen! The bread is made for the café by a local baker, and the cheese, meat, and produce are all fresh from the market. Even the drinks are made from natural ingredients. One of my favorites is El Viento Frozen Margaritas that come in different fruit flavors; an easy sell since the staff is more than happy provide a sample of the available flavors. It was love at first sip when I tried the red grapefruit margarita, cool and refreshingly tart, it is perfect for hot Tel Aviv days making it a fantasy come true to laze in the shade with a margarita on one of the low benches with huge pillows on the café’s porch.
When owners Noa Margalit and Erez Nahum opened Barnash six months ago they were filling a void for an exceptional neighborhood bistro. They each have other things going on, Noa is in a successful band called The Carsitters and Erez owns the wine shop and bar 70 Pilim (70 Elephants) down the street on Bograshov. Although they have many different projects, Noa and Erez see Café Barnash as their baby and spend most days there caring for and improving their work of passion. Their ultimate goal is to combine the good qualities of the best restaurants, cafes, and bars in Tel Aviv and incorporate them into their own cafe. They emphasize friendly service, creative dishes, and fresh ingredients, with fair prices.
Café Barnash’s focus on attentive service creates a dynamic neighborhood atmosphere. My friends and I noticed the warm attitude of the wait staff as soon as we walked in the doors. By the friendly greetings of the waiters it’s evident that you’re welcome to be a part of the Café Barnash family. This family includes an eclectic group of diners, business people, students, and families young and old. The whole neighborhood as well as people just passing through are invited into the warm intimacy of Barnash.There is no better way to spend a low key Tuesday night than enjoying burgers and frozen margaritas in this culinary retreat, however, the real beauty of the café is the feeling that you’re always welcome back for brunch with the family, a business lunch meeting, or a casual night drinking with friends. The friendly service, inspired dishes, fresh ingredients, and fair prices will draw you in and with enough visits you’ll surely become part of the family.
Written by Laura Goldstein
Photos: courtesy of Cafe Barnash