Sun-Thurs 10-1; Fri 9:30-1; Sat 10-1
Walk through the old neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, you are welcomed by quiet, narrow lanes scattered with alluring gems; artist galleries, chic boutiques, and delicious cafes. Dive in deeper and the crumbling buildings accented with modern architecture create a deep feeling of nostalgia, as if you are walking through your childhood neighborhood. At the end of Shebazi Street running through Neve Tzedek sits an old, charming restaurant nestled between hundred-year-old tree: The neighborhood luminary, Café Suzana.
Café Suzana first opened its doors in 1995 to the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek. The owners, Dafna and Menachem, transformed the old card-and-dice building from the 40’s into what is now the elegant yet relaxed staple café. They had the intention of blending home-style cuisine with age old Mediterranean flavors into dishes fused with oriental flavors – still keeping that home-cooked flavor. Dafna and Menachem have successfully preserved this old-world feel by crafting everything in-house, from the traditional Iraqi dish, Kubbe, to their renowned stuffed pastry dishes. Their involvement in every detail of the restaurant – from the food cooked in the kitchen to the décor on the wall – illustrates their love and passion for the simple neighborhood café.
Not only can you get a sense of home when you eat the heart-felt dishes served at Café Suzana, but the relaxed atmosphere creates a sense of family as well. The wooden tables are marked with nicks and scratches, instilling a sense of comfort and ease. Dafna and Menachem kept most of the yellow tile from the original building and accented it with effortless and trendy design, giving the café an underrated, yet refined feel. Most of Café Suzana’s staff members have been working with the restaurant for years, often coming back after leaving. On a Saturday morning the entire restaurant is packed with neighbors, families, and regulars, all enjoying the attentive and friendly atmosphere. Sunlight spills in through the original windows during the day, splashing upon the old photographs of the neighborhood adorning the walls. At night Café Suzana transforms into the perfect date spot, opening the intimate roof-top bar and offering the best Israeli wines available, from Flam Winery to the Golan Heights cabernet.
Although Café Suzana’s relaxed and trendy atmosphere is enough to keep me coming back for more, it is truly the food served that makes the Café what it is. Café Suzana is originally known for its Kubbe dish, stuffed pastries, and use of Mediterranean spices. You can find a stuffed pastry for everyone, from any culture. The Moroccan inspired pastry is filled with chopped chicken and almonds sweetened by a prune sauce, offering a sweetened dish that is sure to fill you up. The Greek inspired stuffed pastry is packed with delicately cooked shrimp and vegetables. The Italian inspired stuffed pastry is overflowing with velvet goat cheese, perfectly cooked eggplant, and topped with a rich tomato sauce. If the stuffed dishes don’t satisfy you, the grilled meat and seafood dishes will do the trick. The fish comes straight from Yafo daily, except on Saturdays when the fishermen are off work. This offers the customer the freshest fish available to ensure a clean and refreshing taste. To indulge in this privilege, you must order the Sea Bream on the grill. You will be licking your fingers clean after you enjoy this meaty and buttery dish.
With all the ingredients of the Café Suzana being delivered daily, you are guaranteed to take pleasure in the freshet flavors of the Mediterranean. Café Suzana illustrates the importance of buying locally with their seasonal tart. You can find this dessert periodically changing, using only the best ingredients available. Although the menu is usually stable, the fruits and vegetables used are often adapted to the time of year which provides the customer with not only the freshest ingredients, but a taste of each season.
When you eat at Café Suzana, you will always be welcomed with a sense of acceptance and hospitality whether you are a neighbor, tourist, or just someone looking to enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Throughout the years, Café Suzana has been a staple in Neve Tzedek, eventually coming to compliment the neighborhood itself. With so many internationally inspired dishes seasonal desserts, you will find yourself discovering Café Suzana again and again.
Written by Chelsea Truesdell