Welcome to South Tel Aviv’s Creative ‘Hoodby Ross Belfer | 15.10.15
The southern cusp of Tel Aviv has often been referred to as a no-man’s land by city natives. Heading down Allenby Street onto Ha’Aliya…and eventually Shoken Street….the small streets nestled between Salame, Herzl and Kibbutz Galuyot seem impossibly far-fetched from the heart of Tel Aviv’s creative pulse. But in recent years, unaffordable real estate prices for apartments, art studios and commercial spaces in the center of town have influenced the emigration of Tel Aviv’s not-so-young creative class to this industrial, street-art-laced neck of the woods.
Perhaps an ambitious statement, but I am confident in my words: the southern cusp of the city has slowly become Tel Aviv’s exciting micro-mecca for artists, galleries and even culinary spots. The hood’s non-explicable atmosphere can be mistaken for eerie yet ensnares a raw culture reminiscent early 80’s SoHo and Lower East Side in all its glory, an intangible feeling one cannot surmise unless experiencing firsthand.
What’s the catch? Well, there is none, and no words can do justice to this beautifully gritty part of town best visited with a camera and an open-mind at hand. To get you off on the right foot, we’ve amassed a starter’s kit to the artistic, gastronomical and creative wonders lying south of Salame. Just don’t neglect remembering how to find your way home.
Kibbutz Galuyot Park: Green spaces can be a hard find in Tel Aviv, but looking as far south as the city can go, one will enter a verdant refuge of lush greenery in Kibbutz Galuyot park. Framed by the giant pink, 18th-century church in its middle, the park on Kibbutz Galuyot street boasts clean, paved running, biking and walking paths, an agricultural school with wild peacocks and a mini-forest worth sneaking into, a cactus garden, a self-defined bird sanctuary hosting rare breeds of our flying friends, and the cherry on top, a botanical garden designed by Israeli starchitect Moshe Safde.
Alla Rampa: A veg-focused tapas bar frequented by local musicians in an industrial strip of south Tel Aviv, with a laid back and informal atmosphere, cocktails and delectable dishes flung out the kitchen by the ever-smiling cook Ibrahim and owners Omri and David. Alla Rampa often hosts performances by experimental jazz and indie groups and DJs spinning the best of indie rock and dance music. 21 Ha’Amal Street, https://www.facebook.com/AllaRampa
Contemporary by Golconda: Located on deep Herzl Street, Contemporary by Golconda is a pioneering gallery in the southern Tel Aviv art landscape housed within an 80 year old building that formerly served as a tehina factory. The gallery showcases promising contemporary artists from Israel in its multi-level space with high ceiling and industrial decor, including the recent “JEWS” group show featuring massive installations by Avital Geva, Micha Ullman and early works by Yitzhak Danzinger. 117 Herzl Street, http://www.contemporary.co.il
Meshuna Gallery: One of Tel Aviv’s newest art galleries is also its most explicit. If you haven’t heard of or been to Meshuna Gallery by now, then you’ve been living under a rock. The gallery-meets-back ally studio space is owned by artists Oren Fischer and Anton Avramov and hosts conceptual-art focused exhibitions in the gallery’s street side space — and cultural events exhibitions/workshops of furniture and street art design in the back studio (open to the public), including a recent performance piece by Hannah Bere and past exhibitions by Avinoam Sternheim and some of Tel Aviv’s most innovative graffiti artists.
112 Herzl Street, https://www.facebook.com/meshuna
Coffee Kiosk on Washington Boulevard: Having a good coffee in the morning is as important as being alive in the first place. The unassuming yet adorably cute coffee kiosk on the eastern end of Washington Boulevard serves up one of the best cups in town. Grab your cup o ‘joe on the go or sit aback on the wooden terrace and go for seconds of fresh-squeezed orange juice and vegan, omelette or cheese sandwiches made fresh by the kiosk’s genuinely friendly staff (a rarity in hipster-central Tel Aviv).
Chango’s: Mexican food in Israel is a far-fetched idea, let alone in south Tel Aviv. But don’t be mistaken: Washington Boulevard’s Chango’s eatery Mexicana is as close as you’ll get to authentic carnitas, shrimp and steak taco’s in Israel, straight out the culinary cookbook of chef Sefi Brown. Spice it up with three levels of salsa, served in verde, sweet or red chili incarnations. Once your food is served, cool your jets with a Mojito, or for the God-fearing-types, freshly made Horchata or Hibscus iced tea. 25 Washington Boulevard, https://www.facebook.com/changos0714
Kastiel Design Space: The staple of luxury Tel Aviv furniture, Kastiel is a longstanding design brand housed within a stunning complex on Abulafia Street. The multi-functional and event space includes a furniture gallery, offices and several open lofts, reception spaces and galleries that often host private fashion, design and contemporary art exhibitions owned by the design-centric Kastiel family. 3 Alfasi Street, http://kastiel.com
Kikar HaMelcha: The industrial, Soviet Bloc-esque buildings on Ha’Amal, HaMeretz Streets and the like are more than meets the eye. Nestled within each of the winding, open-air stairwells lies endless art studios, galleries (Feinberg Projects, Art Space and Raw Art, to name a few) and creative workspaces, from sculpture and photography to fine and contemporary artists. Check out the personal sites of Dror Ben Ami, Klone Yourself and Gal Cohen for insight into the creative class of artists occupying each studio, and afterwards, walk between the crevasses and alleyways to see works by Know Hope, Dioz, Signor Gi and the like. Ha’Amal Street & HaMeretz Street