We tried to eat everything in Tbilisi

 

“We want to eat street food!” we announced to Irakli, the host of our guest house in Tbilisi’s old town.

“No, not street food” Irakli instructed.  “Instead you’ll eat fresh-cooked food from simple restaurants.”  It was more of a demand than advice, and since Irakli is a expert on making people happy in Tbilisi, we set out to eat in simple restaurants.

We ate a lot.

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Let’s start with my favorite: khinkali.  Khinkali are dumplings which Georgians have the good sense to eat in large quantities at all times of the day.  They’re stuffed with meat (or cheese/vegetables and herbs) and a savory broth that we eagerly slurped.  Etiquette decrees eating khinkali only with your hands and leaving the pinched dough end of the pouch uneaten on your plate.

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One dish turned out to be mini khinkali baked with a lid of bread and cheese inside a clay pot.  I’m not certain of the name of this dish, but it’s comfort food squared.

Khachapuri is the other iconic food of Georgia.  Shortly after arriving in Georgia I noticed people lugging huge bags of flour everywhere—flour dusted men emerging from flour packed vans with sack after sack of it.  You can probably guess what all this flour is for, bread (called puri) and most of all khachapuri.

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Khachapuri is stuffed bread and in Tbilisi there’s quite a variety of it.  Here’s HOB about to cram his face with spinach khachapuri.

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Acharuli khachapui, a bread boat baked with cheese and served with a sizable pat of butter and raw egg on top, is not a light dish, but it turned out to be perfect fuel for a day of hiking the hills of Tbilisi.

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This is Machakhela, a Tblisi chain restaurant.  You order your khachapui at the counter and it’s cooked up fresh (with fast food prices!)

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Not gonna lie–there were times when I groaned “Please God, NO MORE BREAD!”  Fortunately, Georgians are masterful at preparing vegetables.  Pkhali is a mixed plate of vegetable and walnut based pâtés, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.  One version we ordered came with a bubbling pot of lobio (red beans).

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I never even one time thought those pkhali balls in the center looked like green boobs, promise.

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Other vegetarian delights we devoured included this divine cauliflower in yogurt walnut sauce and mushrooms sizzling in a clay dish with potatoes and herbs.

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Our favorite vegetable dishes were served at Chashnagiri in Tbilisi’s old town.  We went here on our last night to spend the rest of our Georgian lari, since they can’t be exchanged outside the country.  The bill for a ridiculous amount of food was about 40 gel (about 20 USD) including drinks.

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I’d be slacking if I left out Georgian mineral water—there’s a wonderful selection, each brand with a nuanced flavor.  I was partial to Borjomi, well chilled.

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Sorry Irakli, but I couldn’t leave Tbilisi without sampling just a bit of street food.  Stands like these, with piles of fruit leather and churchkhela, are all over Tbilisi.  Churchkhela is the official name for walnuts on a string, dipped repeatedly in a mixture of grape juice and flour, until they form a sausage shape.  As far as I can tell, churchkhela are never actually referred to by their real name, but are universally known as “Georgian Snickers”.

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I tried the Georgian Snickers and pronounced it tastier than it’s junk food namesake.

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And in the chip aisle of a Tbilisi supermarket I found these.  Finally, the food of my people.

 

How we got to Tbilisi: flight from Chicago via Munich.

Where we slept: SKAdaVELI Guesthouse.  Price: €35 for a double.  Recommended: yes.

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28 comments

  1. Oh my God. Everything looks amazing. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Esp. those American Style hot dog chips, eh? 😉

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      1. I liked whatever that dough bowl think filled with cheese was.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks yummy! Very curious…. and looked into Georgian restaurants here but the one (the only one!) closed down 5 years ago…. what a shame…. Some Russian restaurants serve a few dishes though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh too bad your Georgian restaurant closed down! We’re really lucky because there’s a Georgian bakery within walking distance of our apartment. They sell hot sauce there, called adjika, which is our universal condiment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lucky you! I’ll find nice one next time Europe!

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      2. As I wrote before, I tried Georgian food while in London – yay!! Enjoyed a lot with Khachapuri, Khinkali (too much cab!)and the wine. I’ll go back to the restaurant to try another dishes one day. Thank you so much for the post. PS: the same thing – underwear – happened to me during the stay….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. The food looks delicious. What an adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was quite a treat for us, since we normally don’t eat out often. We felt quite pampered!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That food looks delicious!
    And let me just say that I love reading about your adventures in Georgia. I want to go there myself one day and your posts are well-written and full of amazing pictures. It makes me want to leave right now and join you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Iloenchen—I strongly encourage you to visit Georgia!

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  5. I loved this post. Strangely, there is a fried Indian bread called a puri: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puri_%28food%29. Coincidence or forgotten cultural exchange?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I think you’re onto something with the forgotten cultural exchange. For example, a lot of the church icons reminded me of Sumerian art, so I’m thinking way back when there’s a connection.

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  6. As always, thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences in Georgia with us. This post was scrumptious. (and the name of the Georgian restaurant in Chicago? )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, bappel2014. The Georgian bakery is called Argo Bakery: http://argobakery.com/contact-us/ It’s in my neighborhood, Rogers Park, which is pretty much the coolest place ever. If you come to Chicago, you must walk down Devon Street to eat at the bakery and enjoy the splendor of Rogers Park!

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  7. That was a fascinating intro to Georgian eating. Really so different from what we eat. Yeah, I don’t know if I want to claim the hotdog chips…I’m trying to imagine the flavor of the alternative to Snickers. I might agree with you, but I don’t think my family would! 🙂 I enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you omnifet. Outside of Tbilisi we mostly ate our guest houses and that was the best food of all. I’m a sucker for home cooking and Georgians are superbly hospitable! 🙂

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  8. Great Food Photography!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I notice there are a lot of snapshots of me smiling in front of food, which is natural I guess since I so love to eat.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Omg it looks delicious, especially that cauliflower thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, that cauliflower thing was pornographic!

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  10. Visually satiated.Thank you.Did you try their Chacha?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha–glad to hear it! We had chacha at our guest houses outside Tbilisi. There’s lots of toasting during dinner and you’re supposed to drink the entire shot in one toast (shhhhhh…..I may have cheated).

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  11. Wow, this food looks amazing! Great post, I’d love to go there one day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m officially twisting your arm to visit Tbilisi, Jessie. In addition to the yummy food, there’s an interesting variety of architecture and some great museums.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, well I will definitely put it on my ever-growing travel list! Thanks or the recommendation, it sounds amazing! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. The khinkali-like thing in a pot topped with dough are called “pelmeni”. They’re a Russian style of dumpling, particularly from Siberia. I think serving them in a pot topped with dough is a Georgian innovation, but I’m not 100% sure about that (that style of pot is Georgian, at least). There’s this little pelmeni restaurant in a parking lot near Isani metro station that makes such a delicious version–in a pot, topped with dough, and SMOTHERED in sour cream. …now I’m hungry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the information eminthecaucasus—-now I’m going to have to go back to Tbilisi to eat at that restaurant you mention.

      Liked by 1 person

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