Destinations: When in Tel Aviv...

Considering that it's barely 60 years old, Israel has become quite gay quite quickly, and nowhere more so than in Tel Aviv, its boy- and Bauhaus-filled commercial, cultural and culinary capital.



This sunny
seaside town, with its Miami-esque Mediterranean promenade
and easygoing café culture, is packed with the
kind of "we're here, we're queer" vibe more typically
found in Sydney and San Francisco than in one of the
most conservative regions in the world.

But it wasn't
always this way. Just a decade ago the country witnessed
its first televised gay kiss, courtesy of producer-director
couple Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky, who went on to make
the iconic gay-themed Israeli films "The Bubble" and
"Yossi & Jagger." "The Bubble," in particular,
presented an air-kissing, gym-going, chest-shaving Tel
Aviv that -- at least for visitors -- is not so far
from the truth.

There are
easy-access saunas, a troika of sex clubs, cruising and
sunning on gay beaches and plenty of high-culture
diversions like symphony, opera, dance and theater --
with many performances in English.



31 Yavne St.; 011-972-3-5669559
Evita is one of Tel Aviv's rare true lounges,
with comfy furniture, a full dining menu and an
excellent range of cocktails. Its three owners are
thoroughly tall, dark and handsome, and the casual vibe
ensures a welcome balance between professional types
and just-out club kids.

Cedamus Amori 37 Nahalat Binyamin St.; 011-972-54-7750707
Serving both cocktails and light cuisine, this
split-level lounge bar includes a gallery and events
space up top, while the downstairs bar features
rotating DJs spinning an eclectic mix of punk, electro,
classic soul and deep New York-style house.

Levontine 7 7 Levontine St.; 011-972-3-5605084
Opened late last year, this is a performance
space established by New York City jazz musician Assif
Tsahar and Ilan Volkov, the Israeli-born conductor of
the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The duplex club
showcases the best of local and international punk, rock,
jazz and modern classical. Its queer Yod party
( is an '80s hitfest starring Madonna,
Morrissey, et al.


Brasserie M&R 70 Ibn Gvirol St.; 011-972-3-6967111
With its art deco atmosphere, authentic Parisian
menu and prime city-center location, Brasserie lures
everyone from politicians to celebs, army officers to
high-tech whiz kids. Do as they do and park yourself
on one of Brasserie's rich wooden banquettes to enjoy Left
Bank classics like oysters, steak tartare, braised
short ribs and coq au vin.

Martha Kitchen and Bar 26 Ibn Gvirol St.; 011-972-3-6966843
Owned by Israeli-American fashion designer Elie
Tahari (of Theory fame), Martha Kitchen and Bar is an
all-hours hot spot with a tasty range of house-made
vodkas (flavored with cinnamon, lavender or ginger) and a
mod-Mediterranean menu. Come for lunch, followed by a visit
to the nearby Tel Aviv Museum, or pop in for a late
supper after artsy performances at the neighboring Tel
Aviv Cinematheque.

Tags: Travel