Never let it be said that all franchised cafes are created equally. I had been at a number of Café Joes before trying the one in Ganei Tikva and I can unequivocally say that there are differences and that some are better than others. So I was pleased to discover that not only is the Café Joe in Ganei Tikva one of the best in the chain, it is, in fact, one of the best coffee houses I've been to in a long time, ?chained? or independent.
Kiryat Ono/Ganei Tikva is close to (or at least not far from) everywhere in Gush Dan, though most people don't realize it. It is a short drive from Petach Tikva, Ramat Gan (particularly from Bar Ilan University), Or Yehuda, and, of course, Tel Aviv. Café Joe is comfortable and roomy with a few tables indoors and about a dozen tables in the glass-enclosed exterior area (which will be lovely if opened in the warmer months). When we were there, the place was bustling and most of the tables were taken; the neighborhood obviously needed a kosher, dairy restaurant of this caliber.
The menu is surprisingly extensive and we started with the soup (18 shekels), which was a great choice, albeit a classic good-news-bad-news move. The good news is that the portion ? a thick, basil-y, fantastic tomato soup served in a huge bowl ? was perhaps the best tomato soup I've ever had; the bad news is that it barely left room for anything else. My companion opted for a creamy, sweet potato soup; it too was warming and delicious and a very generous portion.
The restaurant offers sandwiches (27-34 shekels), salads (27-38 shekels), ?wraps? (the current adaptation of a tortilla), ?toastim,? quiches (33 shekels), and other dishes. I went with a salad though, looking surreptitiously around at my neighbors' plates, I realized I would have been equally happy with almost any other offering. My companion's individually prepared shakshuka was a hit, as well. The soup and the salad came with great, dark bread and butter.
The coffee was, of course, the piece de resistance (I almost opened with it, but decided to save the best for last). With it we had a piece of smooth, luscious white chocolate cake (all the baked goods are made off premises), and a slice of apple pie. Both were wonderful but couldn't surpass the cup of Joe.
Along with the terrific food, we were also impressed with the great service; Asi, the owner, is a charming and attentive host. And ? just as aside, which may not excite you but certainly pleases me - the restaurant offers a full Israeli breakfast (34 shekels) all day long.
Although it seems like this Café Joe is well on its way to being a local success story, I heartily recommend it as well to those who have to travel a bit to reach it. It's well worth the trip.