If I lived in Israel, Ha'achim in Tel Aviv is the kind of restaurant I'd be at every week. It reminded me of the atmosphere at Little Donkey mixed with the ridiculously delicious food of Alden & Harlow.
The phrase Ha'achim translates to "the brothers." As the name suggests, the restaurant is co-owned by two actual brothers.
Their space is on Iben Gvirol Street, in the heart of Tel Aviv. We arrived during a torrential downpour (with hail!), but that didn't stop people from sitting outside on the covered patio.
Inside, the restaurant has a gritty feel.
I noticed that they've decorated their bar area with potted plants and seedlings.
We were seated at a long table for six, right in the front window. Our table was next to this awesome print of Theodor Herzl done by Amit Shimoni of Hipstory.
Shimoni takes historical figures and gives them a hipster twist! I bought my dad a print of his take on David Ben Gurion during my last visit.
As we settled in, we knew right away we wanted to have cocktails. My cousin went with the Official Refresher, which is Beefeater gin, cucumber, basil, mint and lemon. I chose the Original, which is Absolut vodka, Aperol, grapefruit, pineapple lemon and oregano.
Hers tasted like a classic gin and tonic and mine tasted like orange Fanta! You couldn't taste the alcohol at all (though it was definitely in there). I could have easily had four or five of these!
We ordered a few appetizers to share. My cousin insisted we have her favorite dish there, the fried artichokes with labne cheese.
After one bite it was clear to see why she always gets it! The artichokes were lightly fried, had a perfect crisp to the batter and tasted extra rich when paired with a schmear of labne.
We also had one of the evening's specials, green beans with slivered almonds, tossed in garlic. I will eat garlicky green beans any day! These had a very satisfying snap with every bite.
Next came the roasted cauliflower served over spiced tahini, garnished with pistachios and scallions.
On its own, the cauliflower was a bit bland, but when swirled in the tahini, it had a great kick to it.
We also tried the salted gibbne cheese with roasted tomatoes, garlic and cumin. I kept scooping spoonfuls of this and putting it onto slides of bread.
For the main course, three of my cousins had burgers. Ha'achim is known for theirs, and you can have all kinds of toppings. For the side, you choose between French fries or baked potatoes.
My aunt got the lamb kebab, which came on a skewer that looked like a sword! This was one hell of a presentation.
I selected the vegetables sinniya, which was a mix of eggplant and cauliflower served in a skillet with spicy tomato sauce and tahini. To cut all that richness, it's topped with an herb salad and pine nuts.
The waitress warned me this dish was spicy, but I didn't taste any heat. It was very filling, so I had to tap out about 70% of the way through.
Ha'achim does savory food so well, that I didn't even feel the need to have dessert. Me! Willing to skip dessert!
In addition to the spectacular food, they also play awesome, head-bobbing music. They're proud of that, and promote their playlist right on the menu.
If you're planning a trip to Tel Aviv, Ha'achim needs to be on your list. I'm already thinking about when I can go back!