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The 18 Essential Restaurants in Tbilisi, Georgia

Where to find plump khinkali, gooey khachapuri cheese bread, and funky qvevri wines in the buzzing Eurasian capital

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Nestled in Georgia’s central Kartli region, the ancient city of Tbilisi is the crown jewel of Eurasia. Surrounded by lush green mountains, the Georgian capital is quickly becoming famous for for its friendly people, picturesque streets shaded by fig trees, and distinct cuisine, which gracefully melds the flavors of both its Asian and European neighbors.

Today, the city of Tbilisi is in a unique moment of transition out of its Soviet past, and its burgeoning wine, food, and cultural scenes are drawing travelers from around the world. While classic Eurasian cooking still reigns supreme, a number of experimental restaurants and bars pouring natural wine and craft cocktails have taken root among the traditional taverns and bakeries. The best of both old and new earn spots on our list of the most essential places to eat and drink in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Prices per person
$ - Less than 25 GEL (less than USD $9)
$$ - 25 - 50 GEL per person (USD $9 - USD $19)
$$$ - 50 to 70 GEL per person (USD $19 - USD $26)
$$$$ - More than 70 GEL (more than USD $26)

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Kakhelebi

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Of all the traditional Georgian restaurants, Kakhelebi is the one most beloved by locals, who come for the delicious khinkali. The skin on these ethereal soup dumplings needs to be thin enough to show a shadow of meaty filling, but thick enough to hold in the savory juices. The khinkali at Kakhelebi achieve this ideal balance, which makes them well worth the short trip outside the city center. Or if you are heading east to the Kakheti region, it’s a perfect pit stop just off the highway.

Salads at Kakhelebi
Kakhelebi/Facebook

Oniashvili Bakery

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This unassuming, out-of-the-way bakery is known for classics like lobiani, a Georgian bean-stuffed bread, khachapuri cheese bread, and the hard-to-come-by chubureki, a deep-fried turnover filled with juicy minced-meat stuffing. They all make for an indulgent breakfast, or take some treats to go and hop a taxi to the nearby Lisi lake for a waterfront lunch.

Stuffed breads at Oniashvili Bakery
Natalie Shafrir

Amra specializes in Abkhazian cuisine, and also serves fantastic shkmeruli, a traditional chicken dish cooked in milk and garlic; cheesy, grits-like elarji; kharcho, a beef and rice soup, and smoked ham typical of the Racha highlands.

A chicken dish at Amra
Amra/Facebook

A good khachapuri ajaruli is a truly magical thing, and the boat-shaped, cheese-filled pastry topped with a fried egg at Retro is widely hailed as the city’s best. Here, the golden specialty is made with sourdough ajaruli and served in a casual, diner-like setting.

Khachapuri at Retro
Retro/Facebook

Mapshalia

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Elsa Kalandia opened her restaurant in 1980, serving exclusively dishes from her home region of Samegrelo. In 2001 Mapshalia moved to its current iconic location under the old Apollo theater, where it continues to offer consistently great food. An art nouveau relief depicting old Tbilisi covers two of the four walls, and Elsa is still there watching over the dining room every day, ensuring all whims are cared for. Don’t miss the elarji, best enjoyed with a side dish of kharcho, which is cooked in a walnut-tomato sauce. Wash it all down with a pitcher of the house wine.

Fabrika Tbilisi

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Fabrika is a multipurpose complex with a number of restaurants, cafes, and bars as well as shops, a ceramics studio, and a hotel. Here you’ll find comforting bowls of ramen at Shio; freshly baked bread, local cheeses, and other small plates at Tone; and frothy pints from Georgia’s first microbrewery, Shavi Lomi, at Dive. The open-air space is packed most every night with a healthy mix of tourists and locals, and it’s the only one of its kind in Tbilisi. This is a must stop.

Memo Cafe

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This small cafe in the sophisticated Vake neighborhood offers excellent coffee and plenty of quiet outdoor seating. London-based Climpson & Sons is behind the various responsibly-sourced beans, which can also be purchased to-go. Try one of the signature blends, a cold brew, or a house-made dessert.

Memo Cafe
Memo Cafe/Facebook

Stamba Hotel

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Then first floor of this publishing house-turned-hotel features three distinct food and beverage concepts: A cafe specializing in single-origin coffee roasted in-house and bean-to-bar chocolate; a restaurant serving European-style dishes made with local ingredients; and a bar mixing modern cocktails with homemade syrups and local herbs. All three concepts have become regular hotspots for locals as well as tourists.

The Pink Bar at the Stamba Hotel
Stamba Hotel/Facebook

Keto and Kote

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The laid-back Keto and Kote does an excellent job of giving traditional foods a modern twist without losing their essence. The dolmas with sour cream and tarragon are superb, and the pesto cottage cheese khinkali are a uniquely Eurasian creation. Book in advance for dinner al fresco beneath the fig tree-shaded balcony overlooking the city.  

Fried chicken with Megrelian sauce at Keto and Kote
Keto and Kote/Facebook

Sofia Melnikovas Fantastiuri Duqani

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This tucked-away garden restaurant is a popular destination come summer. The menu is large, with a number of khinkali, salads, and traditional stews, but come for the amazing pelmeni, thin, unleavened dumplings cooked in a warm yogurt sauce. Also try the pkhali, a thick vegetable dip with walnuts, and one of the best Kakhetian salads in town. Finding the restaurant can be a challenge — when you reach the corner wine shop on Revaz Tabukashvili Street, turn into the curved alleyway and walk until you find the restaurant’s signature yellow door.

Sofia Melnikova’s Fantastiuri Duqani
Sofia Melnikova’s Fantastic Douqan/Facebook

Racha is a rightfully popular tavern that serves up affordable classics to a healthy mix of locals and tourists. From the dining room you can peek into the kitchen and watch your khinkalis being handmade before they arrive at your table plumped from steam. There is a large selection of starters, and the mtsvadi, or pork skewers, are great as well. For the full-on tavern experience, be sure to order some of the local grape-based spirit, chacha. (That’s the stuff in the plastic water bottles behind the counter.) Your meal won’t be the same without it.

A khinkali feast at Racha
Natalie Shafrir

Vino Underground

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The city’s first natural-wine bar, Vino Underground was opened by seven of Georgia’s leading producers. If you’ve heard any buzz around Georgian natural wines, it’s largely thanks to these folks and the dedicated community of people who work here. The bartenders are all winemakers themselves and are happy to walk you through a tasting that highlights the country’s signature varietals and regions. There’s also a great selection of local cheeses, house-made charcuterie, and other shareable small plates. As the name implies, the bar is underground. For a sunnier daytime drink, take a bottle to go and find the stone stairway off nearby Beltemi street. It leads to one of the city’s most sweeping panoramas, complete with vine-shaded benches.

Vino Underground
Vino Underground/Facebook

Salobie Bia

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Salobie — from the Georgian word for bean stew, lobio — is a very old term that translates roughly to “the bean place.” Salobie’s version of lobio is widely hailed as one of the city’s best, and the rest of the menu is equally fantastic. The food and atmosphere are casual enough for a simple lunch, but special enough to warrant a celebratory night out. Don’t leave Georgia without coming here.

Salobie Bia
Salobie Bia/Facebook

41° Art of Drinks

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At this signless, dimly lit bar, Russian-born mixologist Roman Milostivy serves up wildly creative cocktails that riff on local traditions. Milostivy makes most of his own infusions, syrups, and liquors in-house with local ingredients, and the weekly menu is hand-written in a small black notebook. Customers can browse past and present offerings, or let Milostivy whip up something special just for them.

A craft cocktail at 41°
Courtesy 41°

Cafe Littera

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Tekuna Gachechiladze was among the first chefs to bring international-style fine dining to Tbilisi, and she still leads the city’s higher end food scene. At her second restaurant, Cafe Littera, she continues to play with traditional local ingredients, like the Georgian hot sauce adjika, wild mushrooms, and sunflower seed oil in dishes such as seared duck breast, fried sulguni cheese, and wild trout tartare. The restaurant is situated inside a historic home, surrounded by a beautiful garden, where many of the previous century’s Georgian writers used to live and work.

The garden at Cafe Littera
Cafe Littera/Facebook

Poliphonia

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The name poliphonia is a reference to Georgia’s traditional polyphonic form of overtone song, and hints at this restaurant’s overall aim to celebrate local traditions. Poliphonia’s cave-like interior, wool carpets, classic style qvevri wines, and a seasonal menu all fit within the theme of old meets new. Dishes — many plant based — are smart takes on Gerorgian classics with an emphasis on fermentation.

Poliphonia
Poliphonia/Facebook

Samgori Railway Station Market

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Samgori metro station is where you’ll find all the small marshrutka buses to any destination in the eastern part of the country, and conveniently attached to it is Tbilisi’s best market. The produce here mostly comes from the local countryside, and vendors are happy to let you sample from their incredible selection of spices, nuts, and preserves. Graze through a number of small bakeries and eateries here for a nonchalant lunch, and be sure to scoop up some edible souvenirs to take home.

The market at Samgori station
Maximilian Hühnergarth

Alubali

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One of Georgia’s primary ethnic groups, Mingrelians are renowned for their cuisine, and Alubali is excellent proof of why. Here, experience Megrelian food at its finest, like the house-made sulguni cheese with basil, tomatoes, and fresh bread, and any of the rotating off-menu specials (you’ll have to ask for them). The impressive wine list highlights natural qvevri wines, great for afternoon sipping with some of the restaurant’s small snacks.

Kakhelebi

Salads at Kakhelebi
Kakhelebi/Facebook

Of all the traditional Georgian restaurants, Kakhelebi is the one most beloved by locals, who come for the delicious khinkali. The skin on these ethereal soup dumplings needs to be thin enough to show a shadow of meaty filling, but thick enough to hold in the savory juices. The khinkali at Kakhelebi achieve this ideal balance, which makes them well worth the short trip outside the city center. Or if you are heading east to the Kakheti region, it’s a perfect pit stop just off the highway.

Salads at Kakhelebi
Kakhelebi/Facebook

Oniashvili Bakery

Stuffed breads at Oniashvili Bakery
Natalie Shafrir

This unassuming, out-of-the-way bakery is known for classics like lobiani, a Georgian bean-stuffed bread, khachapuri cheese bread, and the hard-to-come-by chubureki, a deep-fried turnover filled with juicy minced-meat stuffing. They all make for an indulgent breakfast, or take some treats to go and hop a taxi to the nearby Lisi lake for a waterfront lunch.

Stuffed breads at Oniashvili Bakery
Natalie Shafrir

Amra

A chicken dish at Amra
Amra/Facebook

Amra specializes in Abkhazian cuisine, and also serves fantastic shkmeruli, a traditional chicken dish cooked in milk and garlic; cheesy, grits-like elarji; kharcho, a beef and rice soup, and smoked ham typical of the Racha highlands.

A chicken dish at Amra
Amra/Facebook

Retro

Khachapuri at Retro
Retro/Facebook

A good khachapuri ajaruli is a truly magical thing, and the boat-shaped, cheese-filled pastry topped with a fried egg at Retro is widely hailed as the city’s best. Here, the golden specialty is made with sourdough ajaruli and served in a casual, diner-like setting.

Khachapuri at Retro
Retro/Facebook

Mapshalia

Elsa Kalandia opened her restaurant in 1980, serving exclusively dishes from her home region of Samegrelo. In 2001 Mapshalia moved to its current iconic location under the old Apollo theater, where it continues to offer consistently great food. An art nouveau relief depicting old Tbilisi covers two of the four walls, and Elsa is still there watching over the dining room every day, ensuring all whims are cared for. Don’t miss the elarji, best enjoyed with a side dish of kharcho, which is cooked in a walnut-tomato sauce. Wash it all down with a pitcher of the house wine.

Fabrika Tbilisi

Fabrika is a multipurpose complex with a number of restaurants, cafes, and bars as well as shops, a ceramics studio, and a hotel. Here you’ll find comforting bowls of ramen at Shio; freshly baked bread, local cheeses, and other small plates at Tone; and frothy pints from Georgia’s first microbrewery, Shavi Lomi, at Dive. The open-air space is packed most every night with a healthy mix of tourists and locals, and it’s the only one of its kind in Tbilisi. This is a must stop.

Memo Cafe

Memo Cafe
Memo Cafe/Facebook

This small cafe in the sophisticated Vake neighborhood offers excellent coffee and plenty of quiet outdoor seating. London-based Climpson & Sons is behind the various responsibly-sourced beans, which can also be purchased to-go. Try one of the signature blends, a cold brew, or a house-made dessert.

Memo Cafe
Memo Cafe/Facebook

Stamba Hotel

The Pink Bar at the Stamba Hotel
Stamba Hotel/Facebook

Then first floor of this publishing house-turned-hotel features three distinct food and beverage concepts: A cafe specializing in single-origin coffee roasted in-house and bean-to-bar chocolate; a restaurant serving European-style dishes made with local ingredients; and a bar mixing modern cocktails with homemade syrups and local herbs. All three concepts have become regular hotspots for locals as well as tourists.

The Pink Bar at the Stamba Hotel
Stamba Hotel/Facebook

Keto and Kote

Fried chicken with Megrelian sauce at Keto and Kote
Keto and Kote/Facebook

The laid-back Keto and Kote does an excellent job of giving traditional foods a modern twist without losing their essence. The dolmas with sour cream and tarragon are superb, and the pesto cottage cheese khinkali are a uniquely Eurasian creation. Book in advance for dinner al fresco beneath the fig tree-shaded balcony overlooking the city.  

Fried chicken with Megrelian sauce at Keto and Kote
Keto and Kote/Facebook

Sofia Melnikovas Fantastiuri Duqani

Sofia Melnikova’s Fantastiuri Duqani
Sofia Melnikova’s Fantastic Douqan/Facebook

This tucked-away garden restaurant is a popular destination come summer. The menu is large, with a number of khinkali, salads, and traditional stews, but come for the amazing pelmeni, thin, unleavened dumplings cooked in a warm yogurt sauce. Also try the pkhali, a thick vegetable dip with walnuts, and one of the best Kakhetian salads in town. Finding the restaurant can be a challenge — when you reach the corner wine shop on Revaz Tabukashvili Street, turn into the curved alleyway and walk until you find the restaurant’s signature yellow door.

Sofia Melnikova’s Fantastiuri Duqani
Sofia Melnikova’s Fantastic Douqan/Facebook

Racha

A khinkali feast at Racha
Natalie Shafrir

Racha is a rightfully popular tavern that serves up affordable classics to a healthy mix of locals and tourists. From the dining room you can peek into the kitchen and watch your khinkalis being handmade before they arrive at your table plumped from steam. There is a large selection of starters, and the mtsvadi, or pork skewers, are great as well. For the full-on tavern experience, be sure to order some of the local grape-based spirit, chacha. (That’s the stuff in the plastic water bottles behind the counter.) Your meal won’t be the same without it.

A khinkali feast at Racha
Natalie Shafrir

Vino Underground

Vino Underground
Vino Underground/Facebook

The city’s first natural-wine bar, Vino Underground was opened by seven of Georgia’s leading producers. If you’ve heard any buzz around Georgian natural wines, it’s largely thanks to these folks and the dedicated community of people who work here. The bartenders are all winemakers themselves and are happy to walk you through a tasting that highlights the country’s signature varietals and regions. There’s also a great selection of local cheeses, house-made charcuterie, and other shareable small plates. As the name implies, the bar is underground. For a sunnier daytime drink, take a bottle to go and find the stone stairway off nearby Beltemi street. It leads to one of the city’s most sweeping panoramas, complete with vine-shaded benches.

Vino Underground
Vino Underground/Facebook

Salobie Bia

Salobie Bia
Salobie Bia/Facebook

Salobie — from the Georgian word for bean stew, lobio — is a very old term that translates roughly to “the bean place.” Salobie’s version of lobio is widely hailed as one of the city’s best, and the rest of the menu is equally fantastic. The food and atmosphere are casual enough for a simple lunch, but special enough to warrant a celebratory night out. Don’t leave Georgia without coming here.

Salobie Bia
Salobie Bia/Facebook

41° Art of Drinks

A craft cocktail at 41°
Courtesy 41°

At this signless, dimly lit bar, Russian-born mixologist Roman Milostivy serves up wildly creative cocktails that riff on local traditions. Milostivy makes most of his own infusions, syrups, and liquors in-house with local ingredients, and the weekly menu is hand-written in a small black notebook. Customers can browse past and present offerings, or let Milostivy whip up something special just for them.

A craft cocktail at 41°
Courtesy 41°

Cafe Littera

The garden at Cafe Littera
Cafe Littera/Facebook

Tekuna Gachechiladze was among the first chefs to bring international-style fine dining to Tbilisi, and she still leads the city’s higher end food scene. At her second restaurant, Cafe Littera, she continues to play with traditional local ingredients, like the Georgian hot sauce adjika, wild mushrooms, and sunflower seed oil in dishes such as seared duck breast, fried sulguni cheese, and wild trout tartare. The restaurant is situated inside a historic home, surrounded by a beautiful garden, where many of the previous century’s Georgian writers used to live and work.