I’m one of those people who travel abroad and compare everything to home. “Oh, tapas? We have those back home too. They’re expensive and popular around Fitzroy. You have gypsies here too? We have those, they’re whiter, they wear vests and play idiosyncratic instruments.”  It’s a hard thing not to do.

I live in a pueblo in Spain where the coffee is good but bitter, the cafeterías are authentic but have pigs legs hanging and the clientele are warm but shouty. I love all of these things, but I can’t help missing Melbourne’s inner-city hipster cafés.

I miss hungover Saturday mornings where cafés are ‘trip over a pram and shove your arse into the back of a hipster’s head’ busy.  Petite cafés drawing in a community of people idolising ‘smashed avocado on rye.’ I love the cafeterías here in Andalusia because people shout, they play dominos and they smoke all the way to the butts of their cigarette. In Melbourne they flaunt Bukowski novels and cover tables with the Good Weekend.

Because I have been here for a while and I’ll be here for a little while more, I feel it’s ok when I travel to a big city to seek out Melbourne-syle cafés which can still offer something a little different (maybe the brand of soy milk?). But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So over a few posts I’m going to compare the fuck out of cafes and restaurants abroad to ones back home. Goodbye paintings of Virgen de la somethings, hello terrarium plants and owl-shaped knick-knacks.

Israel (Tel Aviv) – Cafe Kasbah

Cafe Kasbah is in the Florentine area of Tel Aviv. The area Florentine still maintains much of its industrial roots, but many funky cafes, bars and restaurants are continuing to pop-up. Basically, its Tel Aviv’s answer to Fitzroy maybe 10 years ago. It’s a laid back area of the cosmopolitan city where you can go out for a big night still wearing your beach clothes and sandy sandals.

Cafe Kasbah is well-known in the Florentine area, a placewhere the line blurs between inside and outside, with lots of plants and a beautiful shaded terrace. The staff are fashionable, good looking, but don’t expect them to be sweet. While they’ll give you what you need and happily make recommendations, the customer-waiter dynamic is different in Israel, and the customer isn’t always right.

The menu offers a mix of Middle Eastern/Italian and heaps of veg options (as does Israel in general). I tried a tofu kebab, which was kind of bland but after speaking with others it sounds like the food is hit and miss (the Israeli dishes being the majority of the hits).

I have no photos, I’m deeply sorry. Taste TLV has written a good review with a vegetarian perspective, and unlike myself took the time to grab some photos. How thoughtful.

Sister-cafe in Melbourne: The Vegie Bar, Brunswick St Fitzroy. This is a terrible comparison, but I’m going to make it for the many veg intercontinental options, affordable big servings, big menu, hippie staff, inside/outside areas, cafe/bar/restaurant ambiguity and you could eat your way from breakfast, lunch to dinner if you so desire.
Very Melbourne: Indoor plants, delicious food.
Not very Melbourne: affordable big servings, staff are blunt, extensive menu.

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