A friend was packing up to leave Tbilisi, Georgia, for good so we did our own food travel tour and ate khinkali and acharuli khachapuri all over the city for a month. I thought you might like to try two of the restaurants we personally loved next time you’re in Georgia. A small caveat: You have to do both restaurants in one night to get the full experience.
First Dinner (5 pm-ish)
Order any of the salads with walnut dressing, baked eggplant with cheese, and 5 meat and 5 cheese khinkali.
Follow the twinkling lights into the restaurant Pasanauri, which is off of Rustaveli (cross the street and walk past the souvenir sellers after exiting Rustaveli Metro station–turn right at the next street and go up the Y in the road to the left), and you see wood. Lots and lots of wood. A wooden bar greets you when you walk in the door. Wooden booths fill the large room full of young people smoking with pints of beer and steaming plates of khinkali. Khinkali is a plate of traditional Georgian dumplings.
Here, you will order any of the salads with walnut dressing, baked eggplant with cheese, and 5 meat and 5 cheese khinkali.(Khinkali come in a group. They might refuse your order if you try to get only 1 or 2. They’ll do 3.) Reasonably priced, we always paid between 8-10 USD for the whole meal. Round one complete!
Walk across the street.
Second Dinner (6:30 pm-ish)
Don’t let Sabatono Taverna fool you when you peek through the windows and it sits empty. People begin to trickle in around 9 pm. From then on, business is booming. Not only do they have the best potato khinkali in Georgia, it’s reasonably priced.
“Best potato khinkali in Georgia” is a bold statement, I know, but I’ve tried these dumplings in restaurants all over the country and this potato khinkali was moist without being overly buttery and slightly spicy, which was a welcome surprise. Why all the drama over potato khinkali? It is a bit like mashed potatoes: You’ve either done it well or you have not. Have you had mashed potatoes dripping in butter to the point where they’re almost like soup? Gross. Have you had mashed potatoes so dry that you nearly choke to death at the table? Painful. There is nothing more beautiful than perfectly cooked potato khinkali. Visit Georgia, try it, and see.
There is nothing more beautiful than perfectly cooked potato khinkali.
The other dish to try is the acharuli khachapuri. This is basically a bread boat filled with cheese, a stick of butter and a raw egg. It is amazing. When the bread boat comes someone at the table rips a little piece off the end, sticks it in the egg and butter ooze and stirs everything around till the egg cooks a bit. Looks a little bit like mac and cheese when mixed together and tastes good. Rip into it and enjoy!
**Expert tip! When eating khinkali, don’t eat the folded dough at the top. The dough stems aren’t cooked all the way. Remember: The best part of meat khinkali is the juice. Make a little bite and drink it first. Then ravage the rest to leave your taste buds turned upside down with pleasure.
EVE IS AN AVID TRAVELER WHO HAS BEEN LIVING AND WORKING OUTSIDE HER HOME COUNTRY FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS. OVER THIS TIME PERIOD ABROAD, SHE HAS LIVED FOR THREE MONTHS OR MORE IN BULGARIA, UKRAINE, CHINA, MACAO (S.A.R.), MEXICO, RUSSIA, AFGHANISTAN AND GEORGIA. WHEN SHE IS NOT WORKING AS A TEACHER TRAINER OR TEACHER, YOU WILL FIND HER HIKING, SKIING, MAKING FRIENDS WITH THE NEIGHBORHOOD DOGS, PAINTING, WINDSURFING OR SCUBA DIVING. Read Eve’s Q & A!