When I found myself in Tel Aviv for a week with dear Toddler Yum and the DH occupied at work most of the day and evening, I was initially a little overwhelmed. Here I was, in a foreign land that I knew very little about, where labels were written in a script I couldn’t read, and addresses and the secrets of public transit were a complete mystery to me. I never did figure out the public transit. But, with the help of google maps, I did figure out addresses, and I was able to create a map of gluten-free destinations like health food stores and restaurants with gluten-free menus. Early on I found a very good post by Danny the Digger listing gluten-free restaurants and this was immensely helpful. I marked several restaurants that looked interesting to me, found them on Google maps, and then hiked over to them. I probably would have gone to more, but I found the Israeli sun quite blisteringly hot, especially with a toddler on my back.
I happened across one of the Fresh Kitchen restaurants when I walked to the Dizengoff Center. It was on the right side of the street as I walked from the Port Area towards the center, just a few streets away from the mall entrance. Like most restaurants in Tel Aviv, they had a handy and easy to navigate English menu. Best of all, each gluten-free dish was marked clearly with a little toast icon. I later found another location at Ben Yehuda that was even more convenient to our hotel near the Tel Aviv Port, so we went to that location one evening after Justin got back from work. We were all hungry, so I ordered a salad with cheese, which had a 5% grated cheese, roasted peppers, young lettuce, arugula, baby greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and toasted almonds as well as one of their quinoa-lentil dishes. I picked the one with more middle-eastern flavors and a tahini sauce, and had them add tofu.
The DH absolutely loved the salad, which surprised me a little. He raved about the combination of the dressing, roasted peppers, and cheese. I think he also enjoyed the almonds. It may have been because he was hungry, but he practically inhaled the salad. I was just glad he liked my vegetarian friendly restaurant. Sometimes I feel bad dragging him to the chains with gluten-free menus when there are so many cool, quirky little restaurants that we could go to if only I could feel confident in getting gluten-free food. I ended up having the salad without dressing but with tahina because the thoughtful waitress said that they couldn’t confirm that the dressing was gluten-free. I appreciated her candor, and felt even better about eating there after she cautioned me about the dressing. I thought the salad was nice, but the real star for me was the healthy and hearty quinoa salad.
The quinoa salad came in several flavor variations, from mexican, to italian, and middle-eastern. I chose middle eastern flavors because, well, we were in the middle-east and it just didn’t seem right to order mexican or italian. I appreciated the vegetarian protein in the tofu, but found it a little bland. The combination of red quinoa and lentils was a real winner, though, and it inspired me. I was surprised at how filling the combination was in a relatively small serving. I was happiest of all by the fact that unlike some of the more chancy meals I had in Israel, this one didn’t hurt my tummy at all, and in fact gave me great energy and a satisfied tummy for the rest of the evening. I would definitely go back and have this dish again- maybe even in a different flavor variation, although I do love my tahina.
*Put the link in translate.google.com and set it to translate from Hebrew to English if you can’t read Hebrew like me