Tel-Aviv has a long and rich history with Shvakim (plural for Shuk, the Hebrew word for marketplace). Ever since the city’s early days, Shvakim have had a profound impact on the demographic makeup, goods both bought and sold, and the overall culture that Tel-Avivim enjoy on a daily basis. With the exception of Sarona Market, the Shvakim are closed on Saturdays. In order to get the best deals, make sure to go to the other four Shvakim listed below on Friday afternoon in the hours leading up to closing time (these hours depend on Shabbat starting times, which are different depending on the time of year).
Below is a rundown of the top five shvakim that you’ll find in Tel-Aviv-Jaffa (Yafo). A map of their respective locations can be found at the very bottom of the page:
Shuk HaCarmel is perhaps Tel-Aviv’s most well-known and popular shuk. Squeezed between the Yemenite Quarter and Nahalat Binyamin St., the Shuk is mainly run by Sephardi men and women. It offers patrons the chance to purchase the cheapest and freshest food available. Additionally, Shuk HaCarmel has some excellent sit down restaurants and booths. In particular, keep your eye out for Hummus HaCarmel (HaCarmel 11, Shuk HaCarmel), a cheap and tasty Hummus restaurant housed in an old synagogue.
Located in Jaffa (Yafo), Shuk HaPishpishim (literally meaning “flea market”) offers you whatever items you may (and often may not) desire. One can find just about everything from cool antiques to total junk. Bartering and auctions are common here. On Thursdays during the summertime, the shuk even has outdoor entertainment.
Shuk Levinski’s makeup is intertwined with far-reaching cultures and culinary tastes. Food influences range from Persian to Mediterranean too all other types of cuisines. Besides the classic shuk stops, you’ll find a wide range of other unique food items sold here. Check out “Borekas Penso,” a street corner Turkish bakery that has been serving baked goods, such as borekas, for over eighty years.
The easternmost shuk on this list is in a cheaper and smaller neighborhood. Therefore, the shuk itself is a bit smaller than the others you’ll come across. In many ways, Shuk Hatikva is a scaled-down version of Shuk HaCarmel. Nevertheless, you’ll find friendly vendors and fresh produce for great prices here, as well as many good low-key restaurants with Moroccan and Iraqi flavors.
Tel-Aviv’s largest indoor market opened in summer, 2015. Its 89 businesses are modeled to look like real outdoor shuk booths with a modern twist. If for nothing else, patrons have come here to escape the heat and enjoy the air conditioning. The restaurants and food/spice booths don’t leave much to be desired. If you’re looking for organic produce in a shuk environment, this is the place to shop. Located in the heart of Tel-Aviv, you’ll find most anything you can desire at a shuk at Sarona, only at higher prices.
Geographical Layout of the Shuk Scene:
For more neat (and full-sized) pictures of Tel-Aviv’s Shvakim, check out our Facebook page!
Adam Schrag 2015