People watching at Shuk Hanamal

by Sarah on October 25, 2012

shuk hanamal

The Port Market or Shuk Hanamal is not your typical Israeli market. It’s air conditioned, clean and well organized. The hawkers don’t call out to potential customers through megaphones like highway patrol men. Nobody is haggling or shouting from across the aisles. It feels more like a marché than a Middle Eastern bazaar. Here French cheese and asparagus are on display instead of amba or sambusak.  This is uptown Tel Aviv, where vendors are young, chic and gregarious and patrons stroll in with their pet Chihuahuas.

shuk hanamal, tel aviv port

Tel Aviv port

Most noticeably, the market did not develop organically within the neighborhood but was born fully formed into one of Tel Aviv’s most popular entertainment districts.  While most markets develop to meet the needs of the residents, here the impetus was driven by two young entrepreneurs.

freshly squeezed juice, shuk hanamal

Influenced by the slow food movement, Shir Halpern and Michal Ansky envisioned a business atmosphere that would flourish without the usual retail intermediaries. Instead, the food producers would interact directly with the customers to share their knowledge with them, both of food and life.

Tel aviv port

Although the market is relatively compact, it contains several eateries, a fish monger, a cheese stall, a local produce section, a freshly squeezed juice stand, a coffee shop, bakery and charcuterie. Friday, I am told, a bustling farmer’s market opens in the square opposite. This is not where frugal house-makers gather but a prime venue for the food enthusiast.

shuk hanamal, tel aviv port, carrots

It is hard to imagine that until recently this beach front strip lay in dilapidation.  Build close to the wooden promenade, the covered market overlooks the Mediterranean Sea where the old port of Tel Aviv once stood. Numerous stores, restaurants and cafes have replaced the warehouses of the industrial shipping zone which relocated to Ashdod in 1965. The remnants of a crane and the occasional fisherman are the only reminders of this bygone era.

tel aviv port, shuk hanamal

Shuk Hanamal lacks the raw energy often found in more established areas, such as Hatikva or Carmel yet it has a vibe of its own. There is no better way to absorb its character than to spend a lazy afternoon people watching. Last time I was there, I bought a croissant and a tall cup of pink grapefruit juice and headed outside to the patio by the boardwalk.

tapas at the shuk, shuk hanamal

{Tasty tapas bar at Shuk Hanamal}

A child on a scooter rode ahead of his parents; a businessman, out of place in his suit strode quickly towards the office buildings; a woman smooched her boyfriend (husband?) at a table nearby; a white haired dame, meticulously dressed, walked out of the market with a basket of produce; a man in a speedo ran past a group of giggling school girls.

tel aviv port

 {I wasn’t kidding about the Speedo guy}

I looked down to see a cat waiting patiently for the crumbs beneath my table.

cat, port tel aviv

While the market is only a few years old as opposed to decades, it is no less authentic. Perhaps it attracts a different crowd and offers a new spectrum of culinary choices but the core is the same- a place where people and cultures connect.

Below is the Youtube video I did awhile ago:

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa October 25, 2012 at 7:47 am

A wonderful place! This markets offer beautiful produces.

Cheers,

Rosa

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Gayle October 25, 2012 at 8:48 am

Love the video – so fun to work in a slightly different medium!

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Yael October 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

It was a great day. One of the times I really enjoyed to be unemployed. Great photos as usual.

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Eha October 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm

In Australia many are totally disenchanted by the duopoly of our supermarket chains and increasingly on the lookout for farmers’ markets, be they held outside once/twice/week or in halls such as these! Much more exciting a shopping experience with the growers/producers actually getting a reasonably fair price and we, the customers, a fresh’ local and hopefully organic product :) !

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dineke October 26, 2012 at 1:06 am

Last year, we – my husband, sons Raphael and Daniel – were strolling along this beach. We enjoyed it so much. Love to be back again soon.

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Jessica October 30, 2012 at 3:57 am

Where the heck is this?! I wandered around this area for 45minutes the other day searching for this market. The port area is very confusing, any help would be appreciated! Also, this blog is great!!

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Sarah October 30, 2012 at 5:41 am

Thanks Jessica! If you do find the Shuk Hanamal try the Kitchen Market Restaurant (2nd floor), heard good things about it. Lots of great food adventures in Israel. I hope you have a great time.

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Jessica October 30, 2012 at 4:02 am

Never mind, just followed the link you provided at the top of the post, I will try looking again, this time armed with better directions! Thanks again for your neat blog, I’m in Israel for 2 months and love food and markets, as well as the important role food plays in bringing people together. Great work here Sarah!

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