A Taste of Tbilisi

Food and wine, Georgia, Travel / Saturday, January 13th, 2024

I spent around a week in total in Tbilisi, split into two parts. This felt like enough time for me to get to know the city and enjoy most of what it has to offer. The first time I went, I stayed in Nomad Hostel, and although it was clean and beautiful, I felt it lacked soul. Most of the other guests were Russian men working on their laptops, with very little English and not much time for interaction. So the second time I was there, I booked an Airbnb and was much happier just doing my thing.

Both places I stayed were very close to Rustaveli station, from where you can hop on the Metro and get to other parts of the city. You don’t need to buy a ticket, you can just use a contactless card as you would in London and all other major hubs. I felt pretty safe walking at night but I took a few Bolts, if I felt tired or the walk was too far. Bolts are easy and cheap in Georgia and I can totally recommend them. English is widely spoken in Tbilisi, although not by all Bolt drivers.

One other thing to note is that if you sit down long enough, you might end up at a wedding. Someone told me that Georgia is like the Las Vegas of the Caucasus – people often come here to elope as it’s easy to get married. For example, I visited Metekhi Virgin Mary Assumption Church on a Saturday, and accidentally attended three weddings in one afternoon. I know. Just call me Vince Vaughn.

Here are some of my favourite Tbilisi haunts that I can recommend to you.

Recommended reading: Lonely Planet Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, There She Goes, Bradt Guide to Georgia


Fabrika is a favourite Tbilisi hangout, especially among the hipster crowd. Part cultural centre, part hostel, part food court, it’s a huge former sewing factory with large outdoor space that gets packed at weekends. I visited Fabrika a few times, both at night and during the day, and the vibe here is one of the best in Tbilisi at night. There are bars, ramen and burger joints, a vinyl shop, board game club, a natural wine shop/bar and live DJs. I can fully recommend the takeaway grilled falafel wraps and the natural wine shop, Saamuri – where you can enjoy your wrap and a glass of wine at the same time. Fabrika also has a dedicated tone bread place! On the right-hand side, you’ll find the hostel. In case the main courtyard feels a bit chilly, you’re welcome to enjoy the cozy seating inside the lobby, and indulge in some of their cocktails here. 

8 Egnate Ninoshvili St

Is it hard to be vegetarian in Georgia? Short answer, no. Many Georgian dishes are completely vegetarian, some are even vegan. For every meat dish, there’ll be an equally good, if not better, veggie option – largely thanks to the Orthodox tradition Samarkhvo, which sees many people abstain from consuming animal products for up to six months. This is when plant-based and fasting dishes come into their own – but you can ask for these any time of the year in Georgia.

Cafe Stamba (Stamba Hotel)

I love this place – not just for its massive Ace Hotel vibes, and its trendy, industrial, urban, hip, you name it decor – but because the Stamba is a Tbilisi institution. Even if you’re not staying here, you should definitely come for brunch or cocktails. As well as the main restaurant, there’s a more relaxed coffee shop and bar area to relax in. You can also walk out the back to the gardens, where some local teenagers often hang out, but it’s a chilled atmosphere and has some interesting art and installations. There’s a gallery/museum next to a coworking space on the top floor (accessed via a hard-to-find door near the coffee shop area). When I visited, Patti Smith had an exhibition on, and it was free to enter. As I was leaving, one of the stray dogs (see above) that hang out in the neighbourhood walked right in through the front door and lay down on the lobby sofa like he owned the place. Security just let him be, so I’m guessing he’s a regular! It was such a funny moment, and so very Georgian, I loved it.

14 Merab Kostava St

Slink Cafe

Housed in an early 20th-century greenhouse, Slink is bit tricky to find as it’s tucked away inside Roses Park, which itself has a less-than-obvious entrance. But it’s one of my favourite cafés to hang out in Tbilisi nonetheless, especially on a sunny day when you can sit outside. The menu is seasonal and uses produce sourced from local farmers, so the freshness and the quality of the food is guaranteed. I’m still lusting after their French toast sandwich with feta and tomatoes! There’s also a pet menu for four-legged friends.

Roses Park, 73a David Agmashenebeli Ave

Cafe Leila

A cute vegetarian cafe/restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. I enjoyed their lobio (beans in a clay pot) with pickles, and their badrijani nigvzite (eggplant with walnuts and spices). Nearby is the Rezo Gabriadze marionette theatre and its town clock (which looks old, but was in fact built in 2010). Twice a day – at noon and at 7pm – a fairytale scene called “The Circle of Life” is played out and crowds gather to watch it. 

18 Ioane Shavteli St


This cute cafe is up a wonky staircase in the Old Town, and has a first-floor terrace from which you can watch the world go by. It’s full of vintage furniture and antiques, often has live jazz, and does amazing food, especially deserts. What’s not to love?!

11 Kote Afkhazi St


This was my favourite brunch spot in Tbilisi. They do amazing shakshuka, mac’n’cheese and Khachapuris, plus cocktails and a decent flat white. It has major Brooklyn vibes, and the bar area is open-plan so you can watch the chefs at work. They also have long communal tables and a front garden area for maximum people-watching. The only downside is that most people were smoking on the tables next to mine, which seems to be the norm in Georgia (as in the Balkans) and because there’s technically no roof, it’s legal to do so. So if you’re not a smoker, try and sit at the end tables, near the pizza oven.

7 Tamar Chovelidze St


Housed in an old building in Sololaki neighbourhood, Chaduna is a small cafe that serves brunch until 3pm and has such warm and lovely service, you’re sure to feel looked after. It’s also the first and only place I tried Chizhi-bizhi – now this dish has become one of my favourites of my whole trip. And, like many Georgian dishes, is completely vegetarian.

18 Tabidze Street

DecanTer wine shop

A small shop and wine bar on the main Rustaveli avenue. Very knowledgeable staff. Try the “22” wine and thank me later. 

26 Shota Rustaveli Ave

Khinkali House 

This was close to my hostel and Airbnb, on Rustaveli avenue. It serves some of the best khinkali (Georgian dumplings) in town, including vegan options. 

37 Shota Rustaveli Ave

Example day in Tbilisi

Explore the historic Old Tbilisi district. Wander around the narrow streets, admire the architecture, and visit landmarks like the Metekhi Church, Sulphur Baths, Sioni Cathedral, Narikala Fortress, which also comprises St. Nicholas Church (beautiful frescoes).

Browse the antiques and Soviet or Pre-soviet decorations, documents, books and bric-a-brac at the outdoor flea market on Mshrali Khidi bridge. Haggle hard if you have to.

Lunch: Head to a local restaurant, such as Shemoikhede Genatsvale or Barbarestan to savour Georgian cuisine, including khinkali (dumplings), mtsvadi (grilled skewers), and more.

Afternoon wine tasting at a local wine shop such as DecanTer, Vino Underground or Winery Khareba. Try some of Georgia’s famous wines, such as Saperavi or Rkatsiteli.

Have dinner at a restaurant with a view of the city, such as Funicular. Enjoy both the food and the panoramic view of Tbilisi.

Attend a traditional Georgian dance or music performance at venues like Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvili or Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater.

So that’s it for Tbilisi! Have you been? What did you like about the city? Let me know in the comment below.

To read about my trip outside of Tbilisi to other parts of Georgia, click on this link.

Some basic Georgian words:

Hello – Gamarjoba 

Thank you – Madloba 

No – Ara

Yes – Ki

Georgian Wines 

Georgia is the oldest wine-producing country in the world. Georgian wine is usually a blend of two or more grapes, and is classified as sweet, semi-sweet, semi-dry, dry, fortified or sparkling.

  • Saperavi (dry, deep red in colour. The most important grape variety used to make Georgian red wines.)
  • Kindzmarauli (a natural semi-sweet wine, aged for two years, produced in the Kvareli region. Grapes are harvested later than for most other wines made from Saperavi.)
  • Alazani (a light semi-sweet wine, produced in the Alazani region. A blend of 60% Saperavi and 40% Rkatsiteli. The warmer climate produces sweeter grapes than other regions.) 

  • Rkatsiteli (dry, and the most important grape variety used to make Georgian white wines.) 
  • Tsolikouri (dry, and among the most widespread varieties, said to be Stalin’s favourite wine)
  • Kisi / Qisi (semi-sweet)
  • Mtsvane (which means green)

Georgian cuisine

  1. Khachapuri – these are a MUST when in Georgia, and I’m still dreaming about them. I had many different kinds, and to varying quality, but I recommend trying Adjarian and Imeruli ones. Puri means bread in Georgian, and the Adjarian Khachapuri is a boat-shaped bread filled with cheese, butter and a runny egg.
  2. Lobio – AKA beans in a clay pot. You can find this dish everywhere, and some are better than others. The really good ones have a rich, spicy sauce and are served with cornbread and pickles. 
  3. Soko Ketsze – AKA mushrooms in a clay pot. These are usually small in size and filled with a salty cheese similar to halloumi or feta. They’re baked in the oven and served in the clay dish.
  4. Khinkali – These Georgian dumplings are on every menu. They’re traditionally eaten with the hands. See the following video for handy instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17aTl2R0OjU 
  5. Qababi – Georgia’s version of the kebab.
  6. Ajapsandali – One for the vegetarians and vegans, this is Georgia’s version of ratatouille, with fresh tomatoes, red peppers, aubergines and coriander. Similar to Turkey’s imam bayildi.
  7. Pkhali – a pureed spinach dish with walnuts and spices – great for vegetarians.
  8. Satsivi – a Turkey-based sauce with spices and walnuts. 
  9. Puri/Tonis Puri – Puri means bread in Georgian, and it’s baked in a traditional clay oven (tone), similar to a tandoor naan oven in India. The loaves are usually canoe-shaped, crusty and oh-so-delicious. 
  10. Lobiani – similar to Khachapuri, but flatter and with beans.
  11. Badrijani Nigvzit – Eggplant salad with walnuts and spices – absolutely delicious!
  12. Elarji – cornmeal with melted cheese. 
  13. Gebzhalia – Georgian cheese in a special sauce, often served with fresh mint.
  14. Kupati – Spicy Georgian-style sausage, served hot.
  15. Mtsvadi – Also called the dish of kings, Mtsvadi is barbecued meat on skewers, grilled over an open fire, and drizzled with pomegranate juice and bay leaves. 
  16. Adjika – A cross between a pickle and a chilli paste, similar to Adjar in the Balkans, but a bit tangier and with fenugreek.
  17. Chizhi-bizhi  – A cheesy Georgian shakshuka – fondue-like cheese scrambled together with tomato sauce, served with crusty bread. Makes for a great hangover brunch! Go to Chaduna in Tbilisi for the best.
  18. Churchkhela – Or what I call “sweet candles”, you can find churchkhela and versions of them around Georgia, Cyprus and Greece, each with a slight variation. In Georgia, they’re made from almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or sometimes raisins covered with thickened grape juice of different colours. Head to a shop called Badagi for some good ones.  
  19. Tklapi – natural fruit roll, often made from plums and found in most bazaars. 
  20. Tkemali – Georgian plum sauce with spices, eaten with fried potatoes or mtsvadi
  21. Khabizgina – fried cheese and potato pie with sour cream and garlic, local to Kazbegi.
  22. Mkhlovani – baked cheese and herb pie with ghee.
  23. Chirbuli – tomato and walnut sauce with a poached egg.
  24. Pelamushi – white chocolate and cream, gozinaki, with a red wine sorbet.

Emergency number (fire service, police, ambulance): 112 

2 thoughts on “A Taste of Tbilisi

  1. Great read and inspiring ideas how to spend a great day in Tbilisi – on my travel list! Seems like Vince Vaughn would love this city indeed ;)) Had no idea that it is the Vegas of the Caucasus for weddings. I’m definitely hungry now reading about all the cute cafes and amazing restaurants and what makes each of them so special. Thanks Katie!

  2. […] One evening, myself and Patricia and another girl Tash had dinner at a cozy local restaurant called Tsikara, which had an open fire. We shared plates of famous Georgian aubergine and pomegranate salad, stuffed mushrooms in a clay pot and beans in a clay pot. Many Georgian dishes come in a clay pot, I’ve since learned! You can read more about Georgian cuisine in my blog post about Tbilisi. […]

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