Mike’s Place is a Jerusalem pub or “Live Music Bar” as they put it. With an international crowd and live Blues, Rock 'N' Roll, etc. every night, no cover charge ever!

The original Mike is Mike Viggoda who started the bar in 1993. 2 Years later Assaf Ganzman (A Mike’s Place regular who had spent some time managing nightclubs and playing the Blues in Nashville) inherited the bar when Mike returned to Canada.

In 1999 Mike’s Place opened a second location in Jerusalem. And a year later moved in to a new larger place in the “Russian Compound” (9 Monbaz st.)

Mike’s Place Tel Aviv was open for business in the summer of 2001 right next to the U.S. Embassy (86 Herbert Samuel) a tourist infested area across the street from the Tel Aviv boardwalk.

The bar also takes pride in being one of the first places in Israel to serve Guinness on tap. (Now extremely common in Israel)

Personally I have never been to Mike’s in Jerusalem but in Tel Aviv it is an amazing pub where English seems to be the main language but I’ve heard Spanish, Russian, French and of course Hebrew there.

The people are extremely friendly, especially if you come alone, and it all seems like a big family of regulars, though you might look like a regular to someone seeing you after 5 minutes.

It truly is a special place and a must for anyone hanging around the Tel Aviv area. It is an especially nice place to come to watch the summer sunsets, during the early hours of the evening when it’s almost empty, quiet enough to hear people 5 tables across from you asking if you got a light and where you are from, and early enough to be happy hour.

Historical info from www.mikesplacebars.com

On April 29, 2003 there was a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv which took the lives of Dominique Hass, Yanay Weiss and Ran Baron. The blast also injured many others. The security guard Avi Tabib saved many lives that night by stopping the bomber at the entrance before he got in.

A memorial service was held a week later (Which happened to be memorial day eve.) and a small memorial area was setup right inbetween mike’s and the U.S. Embassy, one of the memorials reads:

"The Mike's Place spirit was never constrained by mere walls, it resides in the people who it touched, and became part of its family forever."

Before Mike's Place was Mike's Place (that's the original one in Jerusalem, that is), it was Tiffany's. It was an incredibly pretentious attempt at a high-end kind of place in the centre of Jerusalem's publand, full of dark wood furniture and expensive brandies. I was 18, maybe 19 back then and of course I loved it - but it never stood a chance. It was situated in a tiny cubbyhole below street level with room for maybe 15 people, and nobody in Jerusalem drank worth a damn back then. So it flopped, and Mike happened to it.

When he took it over, Mike didn't change a thing, except putting the most lurid neon sign you can imagine in the window - the name of the pub, plus a big red neon rose. For a while he tried to maintain the upmarket pretentions of the joint, serving swanky coffees and expensive import beer, but gradually the Mike continuum took over and the place took on the slightly grubby, permanently hung over patina of its owner - a serious drinker and the first person I'd ever met who did cocaine. I practically lived in the place for about a year.

Eventually I got into a major row with Mike because I thumped a drunk Australian who was feeling my bum. Mike sided with the Australian, so I took off in a huff and vowed never to come back. About a year later, Mike met me in another Jerusalem institution, The Mad Hatter pub, and bought me a bottle of wine to, as he put it, "bury the hatchet". Just as I was getting ready to grace his dive with my shining presence again, he vanished. I later heard that he left considerable debts behind, but then I wouldn't have expected any less from the guy.

What Mike's Place is now is not what it used to be. I know the teenage backpackers who hang there think it's always been this bluesy, Indian-shirt, friendship bracelet, hiking-sandal kind of place, but they're about as old as my jeans and what do they know?

It used to be different. Now it's a chain, dammit, and has a .com website. And the Mad Hatter closed, too. Good job I've left the country.

For the record, I've never been to any of the other Mike's Place bars - and I haven't been to the original one in maybe 8 years. So don't think I'm telling you it's not worth a visit, cause it might be. Certainly if you're a terrorist attack memorabilia hound (they do happen - anything has its tourists).

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