On becoming a temporary regular.

My time in Tel Aviv is almost up. Not really, I’m in my third week of three full weeks, but it feels like my time here is drawing to an end. One of the things that I’ve done on this trip is become a regular at three different places. I think I used to do this on my own, but a post that Foodmomiac wrote in February really drove it home for me. Becoming a regular, even if just for a few days, makes travel much more pleasant.

That said, on this trip, I’m a regular at The Dancing Camel, Cafe Alexandria and Libra. Want to hear about them? I thought so.

The Dancing Camel – Hataasiya 12

What happens when an accountant in Jersey with a home-brewing hobby scraps everything and makes aliyah? One of Israel’s first micro-breweries – The Dancing Camel. This is the bar where the Tel Aviv Twitterati have their monthly tweet-up and where I’m helping co-host the Tel Aviv Tweetsgiving. When Yael and I first went to meet with David, the owner, to talk about Tweetsgiving, I instantly felt at home.

And by “at home” I mean “in Durango.” I felt like I was sitting in Steamworks or the Ska Tasting Room . Two of the Durango micro-breweries that taught me to appreciate a beer that was brewed in-house. I told Yael and David that if I lived here, it would certainly be one of my local stomps. So why stop at “if” and just make it “while.”

This month I’ve been back to Dancing Camel a few times. David is always on-site and ready to chat. The beer is poured carefully and the pretzels are plentiful. Last night I even got to sample the signature drink that we’ll be having at Tweetsgiving. Nothing to do with beer – it is a layerd shot with pumpkin puree, coconut and vodka, and coffee liqueur.

I can recommend the Hefe-Wit and Gordon Beach. I dig the stout, but it is a bit bright for my tastes.

LiBRa by Mika120 Ben Yehuda

The first time that I didn’t come to Libra was in the summer of 2008. I twittered that I was looking for somewhere with Wifi along Ben Yehuda. My friend Adam replied that I should come to Libra where he was working. I had already plugged in and ordered coffee by the time I saw his tweet, so I tried to convince him to join me. I didn’t realize that he meant managing the restaurant and not working on his laptop there. I didn’t go and I didn’t meet him that summer.

This summer, at my Jet Lag Tweet-Up, I met Adam for the first time and he reminded me of the interaction and made me promise to actually go. I did and went back another 2-3 times this summer. A good location, huge patio, giant umbrellas and fast wifi – I was hooked. This winter I think I’ve been back 3-4 times even though it is nowhere near where I’m living in Tel Aviv.

From the menu I’ve had edamame (mmm… rock salt), the schnitzel (massive portion), the fried rice (massive portion), some yummy salads, a croissant, coffees and wines. I’ve looked enviously at my friends orders of kebab and chicken and at the next table over’s dessert. This winter we had a small dinner there one night, just six of us and we were able to linger until midnight. The food was great, the service, the setting and the company.

It’s also a place I feel very comfortable going alone and as a solo traveler, that’s important. I went yesterday around 4PM and got the business lunch, but the time I was ready to leave it was about 6PM and I looked around and saw five other women dining solo.

Cafe Alexandria – Yehuda HaLevy and HaMagid

This is the trip when I FINALLY met Savta Dotty. She’s a blogger that I was introduced to when I worked on One Voice at Edelman, but never met. I met her on day one in Israel this trip. She told me that I might like a little cafe down the street called Cafe Alexandria. It is on Yehuda Halevy and HaMagid. It’s possible that I’ve been here every single morning since I arrived. Okay, not every morning – it is closed on Shabbat and there were three days when I was out of town.

I’ve had eggs and israeli salad, croissants, muffins, shakshuka and countless cups of coffee. The wifi is good, the staff is friendly and all of the customers are beautiful. No really, we are a pretty bunch.

I’ve been here as early as 7AM (thank you jet lag) and as late as 1PM (thank you Dancing Camel). In the early morning, I like to watch the deliveries come in for the cafe and the shop across the street. The kids walking to school, the dogs walking their owners and the city coming alive. On a rainy day like today, I’m drinking gallons of coffee and watching the city huddle under umbrellas.

There you have it – how I spent my summer vacation. Erm… Winter vacation. In Tel Aviv, becoming a regular. What are your favorite places to be a temporary regular?

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