Savor a freshly baked banana-walnut muffin as you feast your eyes upon an eclectic mix of photos, paintings, and sculptures. Delight in cinnamon- and pear-infused sangria as you smell the four-cheese lasagna emerge from the oven. Sip a handcrafted cappuccino with frothy foam as you listen to The Beatles…
Bursting with color, energy, and imagination, Café Xoho reflects an international microcosm within Israel. As a haven for olim chadashim and sabras alike, this unique café-bar’s menu features homemade pastries, egg dishes, paninis, salads, coffee beverages, cocktails, and more.
Upon walking in the door, Zoe’s caramel-colored curls bounce as she smiles from behind the steaming espresso machine. Hailing from New Jersey, Zoe has concocted the majority of the menu’s recipes. Across the café, Xoli, Café Xoho’s owner and manager, writes the daily special on the chalkboard—“Scrambled eggs on beer bread with sundried tomato cream cheese, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and walnuts.” Made from scratch, this bread recipe itself showcases how Café Xoho adds an innovative twist to an ordinary bread. Into the bread dough, Zoe mixes Leffe Blond Belgian Beer, rosemary, sweet pecans, and raisins. Making a home in the Jewish homeland, Xoli and Zoe exude inspiration through the food they create for their guests. The daily specials merely represent one way in which they make locals and travelers feel welcome.
One of Café Xoho’s most popular menu items is the Antipasti Sandwich. Zoe always begins making this creation by roasting vegetables—zucchini, carrots, and kohlrabi. Next, she spreads homemade red wine onion jam and pesto onto the bread and adds the goat cheese and herbaceous vegetables. After Zoe presses the sandwich in the grill, it is perfectly crispy on the outside yet creamy on the inside. The salty tanginess of the goat cheese nicely contrasts with the caramelized sweetness of the onion marmalade. Made with fresh vegetables, this magical sandwich captures the quality of locally farmed Israeli produce.
Just like the food, the social life at Café Xoho has a dash of kharif (spice)! As a prelude to Shabbat, Thursday nights at Café Xoho allow guests to relax with a limonana, espresso, or glass of wine. Every Thursday night from 8-10 pm, Tel Aviv musicians play live tunes. At these laid-back shows, guests order a variety of delicious dishes to share with old friends and new acquaintances. Enjoy a heavenly slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and toasted walnuts, or indulge in something more savory from the new snack menu. These small plates are perfect to eat while schmoozing and listening to nighttime music or at any time of the day. Taste their homemade roasted nuts for something salty-sweet, or try the halloumi (grilled white sheep’s milk cheese) on a stick with a sumac yogurt dip. Their bruschetta selection also serves as an expression of Xoho’s culinary creativity. We especially recommend the bruschetta with goat cheese, onion jam, and walnuts for a creamy and crunchy snack made with high-quality ingredients.
Since its opening on February 17, 2010, this fresh-faced café has a character all its own—fun, free-spirited, and funky, not a typical Tel Aviv café. Rather, Café Xoho caters to those looking for a lighthearted pause from the ballagan of daily life. Business partners Xoli and Howard opened this café-bar with a name the combines their two names (Café Xoho is pronounced “Café Zo-Ho”) and sounds like Soho, a place mirroring the artsy vibe. Wearing a sports tank top and bun on her head, Xoli always seems to be on the move, making drinks and serving guests. Her passion for the café translates into effortless guest service since she genuinely cares.
Born to Canadian parents, Xoli grew up in Hong Kong until the age of eighteen when she moved to Australia to study graphic design. After studying in Australia, Xoli then immigrated to Israel in 2009. Working in the Israeli dining industry for a year-and-a-half, she learned Hebrew and became inspired to open her own café. At that point, she had not yet found a place like the eclectic cafés she knew from Australia. Thus, she aspired to open Café Xoho—a café with character. Driven to provide homemade food in a homey ambiance, Xoli had a clear vision.
Xoli’s diverse personal history shines through in Café Xoho’s atmosphere. The current décor, for instance, features ethnographic photos from India, abstract acrylic paintings, a local artist’s glass-blown jewelry for sale, and whimsical light fixtures. The walls are mostly cranberry, onyx, and violet with a hint of indigo. However, these colors are difficult to discern since nearly every inch is covered with a mosaic of artwork. On one wall, Dahlia, an immigrant from London, has painted cartoon-esque images of teenagers on a bed listening to music. The artwork does not stop at the walls; the tabletops also represent paintings themselves. One of the artistic tabletops features lime green paint with red, swirly, messy cursive that reads, “A coffee a day keeps the doctor away.” To add a personal touch, Xoli’s mom made most of the sculptures here. These works of art are reminiscent of polka-dotted, mixed-medium, three-dimensional versions of Picasso paintings. My favorite one is a crazy monster creature that lurks from the ceiling with a turquoise face, elephant ears, bright red lips, newspaper-coated angel wings, an eggplant-colored tongue, and a real metal kitchen spoon in hand. Maybe he’s the one responsible for the most recent batch of peanut-butter-M&M cupcakes?
Located on the corner Ben Yehuda and Mapu St., Café Xoho encompasses it all—fabulous food, super-friendly staff, local art, Wi-Fi, daily specials, and an international crowd.
~Written by Alexis Rachel Domb