Regina is one of the most surprising restaurants in Israel is located in the heart of Tel Aviv, near the Mediterranean coast. What makes it stand out is the fact that it is a kosher mehadrin establishment that is on par with the city’s famous food scene.
The restaurant is nestled in a 19th-century Mediterranean building with its original décor carefully preserved. Heavy iron gates surround the inner courtyard which is filled with plants and flowers. Inside, the dining rooms are adorned with vintage shutters, marble and chandeliers.
The owner Avi Arabov said he wanted to pay homage to the old-time of Tel Aviv. The immigration of Jews from Western and Eastern Europe and North Africa introduced an array of dishes to the fledgling country. Coupled with the local Middle Eastern meals, local restaurants would serve a “Jewish cuisine.”
When Arabov moved from Petropolis in Brazil, they were approached by Tel Aviv’s Head Chabad Shliach Rabbi Yosef Gerlitzky. “He asked me to open a kosher mehadrin restaurant,” Arabov said, citing a need for dining that would service frum residents, business people and tourists.
“My wife and I accepted the challenge and we are now under the supervision of Rabbi Gerlitzky,” he said. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic which caused many eateries to fold, Arabov says he was determined to remain open because of the ‘Shlichus’ he sees in running such a kosher operation.
Over the years, Regina has attracted an eclectic clientle. “People from all walks of life come to eat here,” Arabov says. “From ranking poliltical officials, noted business leaders, to religious families looking for a high-end restaurant with a good hechsher and Jews from the United States on a visit to the Holy Land.”
“Our goal has been to break the stigmas that kosher food is less delicious,” he said. Recent reviews by food critiques and customers have indeed shown that Regina lives up to its goal.
Starters include homemade tahini, beetroot carpaccio, chicken liver pate, meat-stuffed pastry, meat hummus and smoked salmon bruschetta. They serve both tilapia and salmon fish coupled with a side of roasted green beans and garlic sauce.
On the salad menu, there is a black lentil, green and chicken salad. There is also a vegan option of shawarma and a burger made of seitan and served with French fries, homemade tahini and amchur sauce.
Their main course features chicken pullet steak, house burger, a triple burger with smoked beef sausage and fried onion rings, shawarma, veal kebab, slow-cooked Asado in a sweetened beef broth and entrecote steak.
Their beverage menu is an eclectic mix of soft drinks, hot drinks, famous beers, a wide wine selection, hard drinks and original cocktails such as Regina in the Forest, Jaffa Special, The cocktail of Malka, Danny’s Margarita and Larissa’s Cocktail.