As the saying goes, Haifa works, Jerusalem prays, and Tel Aviv parties. But even people who work need to party – maybe even more so.
Haifa locals might groan that nightlife there consists of just a few landmark establishments, and while it’s true that the selection is sparse compared to Tel Aviv’s, Haifa offers a bit of everything: mega clubs, live music bars, dance bars, resto-bars and pubs.
Usually, Haifa joints aren’t built as passing trends. They must provide a solid night on the town for a steady clientele, consisting largely of students and hi-tech professionals who wouldn’t waste their hard-earned money on a dingy watering hole or fly-by-night fad.
So when Haifa’s famous Bahai Gardens light up, so do the following joints:
Barbarossa is considered the most ‘in’ resto-bar in Haifa, where locals go to see and be seen. On weekends there is hardly room to move among the pretty-ish, 25+ crowd. Decorated in heavy wood, Barbarossa has the aura of a Crusade cellar – a tribute, perhaps, to Emperor Barbarossa of Germany, who led a Crusade through there in the 12th century. Opens 6:30 p.m., Pika 4. (04) 811-4010.
Beer House As should be obvious from the name, this place specializes in suds, serving 120 brands as well as beer-battered dishes. It’s near the hotels in the Carmel area and is a natural choice for tourists – especially Europeans. Opens 7 p.m., HaNassi 116. (052) 501-8889.
Brown A branch of the Tel Aviv resto-bar, Brown in Haifa resembles an English-style pub, evoking warmth due to its color scheme, which is, naturally, wooden brown. The bar is separated into a lounge area with booths and a large, square Cheers-style bar for a diverse, easygoing crowd. Opens 9 p.m. Moriah 131. (04) 811-2391, (052) 224-9095.
Carmela Jazz and Wine Bar Newly opened by the owners of Brown, by day Carmela acts as a resto-bar with a fusion menu and invested bar. Towards evening, the jazz picks up and eventually turns into funk, rock, and groove with touches of jazz. Open 6 pm. Moriah 12. (077) 336-1616.
City Hall Considered a Haifa institution, as befits its name, City Hall is a live music and dance club which celebrated its heyday in the 80s and 90s. The top floor is outfitted with state-of-the-art sound, lighting and props to host quality rock performances such as Aviv Gefen, Monica Sex and foreign rock bands like Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine. Downstairs, DJs spin synth-pop, Goth, drum n’bass and reggae. Opens midnight on Thursdays (ages 18+) and Fridays (ages 18-25). Shabbatai Levi 7. (04) 862-7523.
Frangelico A sushi bar with friendly service despite its aura of exclusivity. A long bar lit by sexy spot lighting allows for plentiful pick-up for the 25-35 year-old crowd. The sushi, prepared by Japanese chefs, is so popular that they opened a little chain at the Haifa Grand Canyon mall. Sunday-Monday: opens 5 p.m.; Friday, Saturday: opens 12 p.m., Moriah 132. (04) 824-8839.
Horva This veteran dance bar is comprised of three halls, one each for mainstream, trance and Israeli music on Thursdays (students) and mainstream, hip-hop and Israeli music on Fridays (soldiers). Opens midnight, HaNamal street 10. (052) 388-8188.
Geah The third branch of the mega-bar chain (the others being in Tel Aviv and Eilat), Geah means ‘asylum’ in Hebrew, and rightly so. The vibe can get crazy around the massive rectangular bars in a gargantuan hangar space. The colors of the design and clientele tend to be on the dark-side. Opens midnight on Thursdays (hip-hop/Israeli) and Fridays (gay-friendly night, NY house); HaNamal 16; (050) 700-8020.
Gobi Gobi looks like a dingy everyman’s dance bar, playing mainstream pop, dance and hip-hop. The decor is minimal, with walls painted black, but maybe Gobi doesn’t need to invest much in design; large windows show off a beautiful, panoramic view of the Haifa port and beach. Opens midnight on Tuesdays (electro), Fridays (23+), and Saturdays (students), Yefe Nof 115. (054) 812-4801.
Irish House The pub is certainly not as invested as the more authentic Irish pubs in the center of Israel, like Dubin, Molly Bloom’s and Murphy’s. The lighting is a little too bright and the decor (consisting of flags, mugs and chandeliers) is haphazardly Irish, but for Haifa it does the trick. Opens 8 p.m., Yefe Nof 120. (054) 559-0615.
Levinsky Over six years old, Levinsky is a large resto-bar designed in classic red and black leather. It opens as a restaurant in the afternoon and turns into a standard, mellow pick-up bar at night with relatively spacious lounge areas. Opens 12 p.m., Moriah 133. (04) 825-8294; (052) 431-2314.
Luna is a mega-club that has made its home in an impressive, preserved Ottoman bath house which emerged unscathed from a Katushya hit last summer. Nowadays, antiquity mixes with raunchy modernity as Luna bathes its dancers in updated club music through a powerful sound system under high ceilings. Opens 10 p.m. on Thursdays (NY house, trance, and Israeli/rock) and Fridays (NY house, hip hop, and Israeli rock). Al Pasha 5; (04) 862-6264
Maidler’s Bar You can usually find Maidler – a gruff, buff, bald Israeli – sitting in his bar on any given night. An animated picture of him is part of the establishment’s logo, but don’t let his serious, unfriendly expression turn you off. When the big games are on, Maidler’s turn into one of the most happening, friendly sports bars in the city. Opens 6 p.m., Moriah Blvd 126. (04) 824-8754.
Morrison Named after Jim Morrison, whose large picture looms over bargoers, Morrison is (appropriately) a loud, popular – and squishy -mega rock bar which occasionally hosts young rock bands and Israeli artists. Reservations recommended, or first come, first stool. Opens 8 p.m., Yef Nof 115. (04) 838-3828, (054) 740-0501.