For eternally rushing Tel Avivians, breakfast at Sonia is a rare treat: few people have a secluded garden that’s the perfect setting for tranquil, balanced meals. It’s a far-off childhood memory for most of us.
Although Sonia Getzel Shapirais defined as a garden café, when you consider the waiters’ parental concern, the charmingly illustrated menu, the chocolate spread served with breakfast, and the colourful plastic chairs scattered throughout the garden – it’s more like a playground.
The best fun of all is sitting under the shady trees and flowering climbing plants, at the gorgeous mosaic topped tables, and gradually unwinding…while the faint hum of buses on King George Street is a distant reminder of what you escaped.
The café’s namesake – Sonia Getzel Shapira – was the wife of Meir Getzel Shapiro, an affluent resident of Little Tel Aviv. He was the builder of the Shapira neighbourhood and the two tiny alleys – Simta Plonit and Simta Almonit – that lead off King George Street. The story goes that Shapiro wanted the two alleys named for his wife and himself. Meir Dizengoff, Tel-Aviv’s Mayor, removed the temporary signs that Shapiro placed there, and had the alleys temporarily named Almonit (Unknown) and Plonit (What’s-his-name). But nothing’s more permanent than the temporary, and the names are in place to this day. Many are familiar with the stone lion that stands at the end of Simta Plonit, placed there by Shapira to protect Mrs. Shapira. Fewer people know that Simta Almonit has a café named for her (the full story is on the menu).
Every season brings its own delights, and on fine evenings when al fresco café life is an option, don’t miss out on an evening under the trees in Sonia’s secret garden.
The menu is fresh and friendly, with several vegetarian choices, pampering breakfasts served the day round, a broad choice of shakshoukas, sandwiches, salads and soups, plus the freshly squeezed juice.
If you arrive by bike or bus, parking is (usually) available at the close-by Maccabi car-park.