Penguin: a place for coffee, good food and fascinating history.
The Ga’Aton Boulevard in Nahariya is one of the most well-known boulevards in Israel, and carries a grand history.
Here, during intense winter days the Ga’Aton River, pleasantly steaming in the canal, sometimes overflows, flooding adjacent streets. Under the giant Eucalyptus trees in the boulevard horse buggies that carried tens of thousands of tourists and vacationers around the city, are still parked. UN officers and soldiers still arrive here on their holidays and some still remember that in this historic Café, the Penguin, alongside the boulevard, stories of love, affection and hate developed between British mandate officers and beautiful girls from old Nahariya.
The privilege to step inside such a historic restaurant is not self-evident to me as I enter the spacious, elegant hall, that expands in each direction into rooms and halls offering islands of tranquility for café guests. I am almost sorry that I didn’t have the privilege of seeing this café as it had looked then, 70 or more years ago. To my surprise, inside the restaurant I also find a book store and a household utensils store. A tall, amicable lad whose Jekke descent is apparent from his external appearance, welcomes me and introduces himself by the name Amir Oppenheimer; a son of Nahariya’s founding families, and fourth generation owner of the Penguin café and restaurant.
A heavy task rests on Amir’s young shoulders. He has to preserve, nurture and even march forward this coffee house that has succeeded in surviving through stormy, unstable days full of fluctuations that Nahariya underwent. Through sounds of Katyusha rockets falling during the various wars the Galilee had known, through days of recession and social hardship accompanied by economic difficulties, among fences, trees and traffic signs vigorously painted by the mayor and urban changes the city had undergone, the Penguin stands as a solid rock and as always continues to offer what it offers best: Food! First there is the famous ‘Penguin Schnitzel’ that some people come especially from the center of Israel to taste again and again; then there is Ilan’s coffee loved by Nahariyans and guests alike; strudels and hot chocolate cakes; unique breakfasts, croissants and other pastries. Guests can order here from the rich diverse menu Italian dishes such as pizza and spaghetti, sea and pool fish, hamburgers made on site, Goulash, mushroom, onion and vegetable soups as well as classic main course dishes: from cordon blue to entrecote steak and various stir-fried grilled and ginger dishes. Adjacent to the restaurant there is a Take Away station, enabling parents, of children who like fast food to enjoy a meal together.