For Tel Aviv hipsters on the road, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has become a top travel destination. But if it’s baby-back ribs with a side of coleslaw they’re after, they won’t need to travel so far anymore. Pundak De-Luxe is a new Brooklyn-style barbecue joint that opened a month ago in Jaffa. It serves artisanal smoked (non-kosher) meat of all kinds, made in traditional American ways, served with the usual sides, and clearly inspired by New York’s recent BBQ boom.
Israelis loves grilled meat, but this is not your customary al ha-esh, or “on the fire,” type barbecue. Oh no, Pundak De-Luxe believes in smoking meat (in an imported meat smoker) using the old-fashioned “Low & Slow” method. Side dishes—including coleslaw, corn-bread, corn-on-the-cob, and mac-and-cheese—are no less authentic. There’s even New York-style cheesecake for desert.
The force behind Pundak De-Luxe (pundak means “inn” in Hebrew) is entrepreneur Ori Marmorstein, who opened the place together with fellow restaurateurs Adi Pasha and Oren Paniri, and night-life man Raz Brakha. “My inspiration definitely came from Williamsburg,” Marmorstein gladly admitted. “I love New York and I was there something like seven or eight times in the past three years. You have barbecue joints all over the U.S. You have the old-school places in the South and the modern ones in NYC. The food is basically the same, but the difference is in the design, the music, and the whole idea of turning a barbecue joint into a hang-out—a place where people go out to meet friends and drink beer or cocktails. We’re trying to create a place of casual dining with a laid-back atmosphere. It’s a fun place: You can come in the evening to celebrate your birthday, or you can come after the beach in your bathing suit.” They’re open seven days a week, until the last customer leaves, which is usually around 1 a.m. Wooden tables surround the bar and spill out into Jaffa’s super-trendy flea market.
Pundak De-Luxe serves all kinds of meat: beef, lamb, chicken, chicken, goose—and pork. The menu seduces with descriptions like “pulled-meat open sandwich on challah with mustard-butter, served with soft boiled egg and crispy onions.” Meat and sausages are all locally sourced—including the pork. “It is prohibited to import pork meat to Israel. It is also prohibited to raise pigs in Israel, but there is a loophole,” Marmorstein said. “The law against raising pigs is simply circumvented by housing them on platforms above the earth, and many do so. So obviously we serve only local pork meat, and all the other meat that we serve is locally grown as well.”
Dana Kessler has written for Maariv, Haaretz, Yediot Aharonot, and other Israeli publications. She is based in Tel Aviv.