Orly Peresh-Azulay and friend visit Café Herzl in Haifa. The restored pedestrian mall brings back some of the neighbourhood’s personality of 40 years ago, and the ladies enjoy a dairy breakfast of sizzling shakshuka just off the fire.
There aren’t many symbols of the change in the city of Haifa – certainly none as obvious as the Hadar neigbourhood, specifically Herzl Street. I love to return here time and again on sunny days, if only for the nostalgic thoughts that this road brings up and to enjoy some cheap spontaneous shopping.
On one such morning, I convinced my friend Yael to join me on a little tour of Herzl Street. After checking out every shop on the street, we were tuckered and headed straight for the cute café that caught my eye. Café Herzl is located in Beit Koronot, a central spot on a street that recently became a pedestrian mall – it was abundantly clear to us that this is exactly where we’d be breakfasting.
We sat outside in the warm sun and opened the menu. Rich and varied, the menu includes just about everything offered at dairy cafes: soup, quiche, pasta, fish, salads and interesting breakfasts. We immediately selected breakfast – the classic Israeli for me and shakshuka for Yael.
The breakfasts arrived in all their glory. My plate included a mushroom, onion and herb omelet. Alongside the omelet were lovely assorted cheeses and a rich vegetable salad composed of seasonal veggies. Warm, fresh and intoxicatingly aromatic bread came on a separate wooden board. Yael’s platter included a sizzling pan of spicy shakshuka emitting the scent of fresh tomatoes. With the shakshuka came a large salad and more fresh warm bread.
Without thinking twice, we dig into our breakfasts and are impressed with their freshness, their lovely aesthetic plating and the pleasant atmosphere at Café Herzl. Once we’d quieted our hunger, we looked right and left at all the interesting people walking up and down Herzl and, for a minute, I felt a Tel Aviv-Nachalat Binyamin feel right here in Haifa, on magical Herzl Street which has been restored, renovated and returned to the way it must have looked in the marvelous 60s, when Herzl Street was the centre of Haifa in the pre-mall era.
Once we’d cleaned our plates we ordered the coffee included in our breakfast and continued sitting for a nice long hour to take in the atmosphere, breathe deeply, daydream and every so often just to sit back in silence. This was a morning of glorious return to the soul, and a large part of the credit is due to Café Herzl that gave us a bit of tranquility back. So here’s a hot tip: take some time out, sit at Café Herzl and go back 40 years to a magical time in a central city, a busy lively street and a café where you’ll find an answer to all your spiritual and culinary cravings.
Café Herzl 18 Herzl St., HaifaTel: 077-5506820