There's no end to good food (and wine) in Georgia and Tbilisi has a heavy concentration of it. We made the most of our time here and dined out quite a bit - a bite here, a bite there. Here is our list of where to eat in Tbilisi.
This tiny spot near the old part of town is quaint and serves up nice vegan food. It's not the best vegan food I've ever had, but it is comforting, good, and prices are reasonable as well. We initially stopped by for a juice and lemonade since we weren't so hungry. We later stopped back for a small bite of Mexican potatoes (which are seasoned potatoes and a thing throughout Tbilisi), Buckwheat groats and smoked tofu (I would have loved some veg in here, but I would always love veg). I think the restaurant is non smoking but the crew and friends are frequently smoking in the doorway. Oh and they were playing great music when we were in. Definitely go.
Kiwi Cafe is the vegan restaurant that was the victim of meat wielding protesters who came in and threw meat onto the plates of patrons and were generally obnoxious about....what I don't know. It made quite a stir online when it happened.
Cafe Leila just oozes charm. It's across from the oldest church in Tbilisi and just around the corner from the Rezo Gabriadze Theater. There's a great patio for people watching, but my heart belonged to the interior. The ceiling is covered in amazing relief and the walls are similarly adorned but with the inclusion of tiny cut out "Oriental" characters. It sounds kitschy but comes off as cozy and charming. The lighting is also lovely and the people who work there are super friendly. This became one of our favorite haunts and stopped by several times. I found Cafe Leila to be a respite from the heavy cheese and bread agenda of most Georgian restaurants, and we eagerly scarfed down one of the amazing salads and came back for more.
Along with the salad we shared a traditional dish of Beans in a pot. This is a charming clay pot that was topped with a cornbread cover and accompanied with pickles. Let's just say we were both giddy from this dish. The rosemary vodka probably contributed a little bit to this giddyness but we had the same feeling of joy on our next visit.
Sophia Melnikova's Fantastic Duhan
The title of this should just be "Too many dumplings". They serve up homemade khinkhalis filled with several different fillings. Zac ordered mushrooms (which had a nice spiciness to them), potato with cheese, and "mountain" (or meat). For each kind of dumpling you must order at least five. Obviously you see that totals fifteen dumplings that are the size of the palm of your hand. I did help consume some of these but the over ordering made for good leftovers the next day. My main focus was the Georgian Chicken noodle soup. This tasted of lemon and was reminiscent of avgolemono and was spectacular. They too have a great hip atmosphere and were playing fab music. Happily also seemed to be smoke-free inside but there were many people smoking out on the patio. This is definitely where you should eat khinkali while in Tbilisi.
Breakfast options in Tbilisi are limited because most Georgians don't eat breakfast. Luckily some coffee shops have realized tourists like to eat breakfast. Entree was one of them and opening at 8am makes them also one of the earliest to open as well. After our initial visit we came to realize they are a chain and are all over Tbilisi. I can see why. They have a good selection of morning items including eggs and smoked salmon. They have a great selection of pastries and breads which are utterly delicious. I paired my yogurt with fruit alongside an apricot croissant and could not have been happier. I talked about this yogurt the entire time we were in Tbilisi. We stopped back for a quick sandwich for a picnic and while they were really simple, they were also really excellent. The ingredients tasted fresh and the bread was perfect. Chain or not, we would highly recommend you eat at Entree.
We ate here during an event so cannot speak to the "everyday" version of this restaurant. Our experience at the event was nothing short of amazing so can only think normal service must likewise be amazing. The same people are involved with Arpesha and Vino Underground (see below) as with Poliphonia. The environment is charming and the staff are very helpful and friendly. This might be a bit of a splurge but I suspect it is worth it.
The oldest bakery in Tbilisi
Sadly, we do not know the name of this bakery but can tell you where it is. Just off the square with the statue of the Tamada and around the corner from an Orthodox church. The staircase down to the bakery is found underneath the statue of the "Golden Fleece". Head down the stairs and descend into savory baking glory. We saw older women really working huge mounds of dough in the back and another carrying a tray of freshly baked items up to a restaurant around the corner. The smells alone in here are intoxicating. Don't stop at just smelling though and try several of their ridiculously amazing and cheap items. We had a mushroom pastry and their version of the lobiani (see below). Both were incredible and the best we had in our time in Tbilisi. Swoon worthy, I'd say.
Where To Drink in Tbilisi, Georgia
Neither of us really drink a lot of alcohol, so when we say "where to drink" we really mean coffee and tea. But in Georgia, wine culture is strong, so we really recommend trying a wine at any restaurnt or going to a wine tasting.
Coffee Double B
Jill doesn't take caffeine, but you may know by now that I really enjoy a cup of coffee. You'll see street signs all over Tbilisi advertising cheap coffee. Most if it is either Nescafe packets in hot water, or an americano from a machine. Everybody seems to sell this easy and cheap (1 Lari, or .42 cents) portable coffee. This is where Coffee Double B really stands out. They have all manner of brewing methods like aeropress and chemex. The price is quite a bit higher than in the little bodega's all over Tbilisi, but you are paying for the quality. And when I say higher, I mean between 9-14 lari, which is still a tremendous deal for what you are getting. It can seem a little hipsterish at Coffee Double B, but it doesn't come with an attitude at all.
Althaus Tea Room
This is a super charming tea room away from the historic center of Tbilisi. We were wandering and I wanted some tea and had this place bookmarked. It did not disappoint. You do have to climb some stairs to get to the tea room, but it is worth the effort. They have a ton of tea options (even some coffee) and some desserts. We sat out on the beautiful balcony for a rest and took our time sipping our teas. Zac got a refreshing Iced Moroccan mint with lemon and I had some sort of berry explosion served hot in a pot. The berries were sweet but not cloying and with just a titch of Zac's ice was perfectly refreshing.
We stopped in Vino Underground first as part of a Tbilisi walking tour and then Zac went back on his own. After tasting the amazing wines served at the event at Poliphonia we knew we had to go back. They rep small organic wineries and we can honestly say we did not have one bad or even meh wine while here. So, so good, and so so inexpensive. You can get a great glass of wine (organic, local, unique, rare) for $5-7 USD.
So that's it. Our roundup of where to eat (an drink!) in Tbilisi, Georgia. Check back often as we are going back to Tbilisi and hopefully trying new restaurants! If we can pull ourselves away from the ones we've already come to love, that is.