People sitting at outdoor restaurants in the Old Town of Tbilisi, Georgia.
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Food and eating out in Georgia

Maysie Dee

Contributing writer

Along with incredible natural beauty and fascinating cities, visitors to Georgia love the tantalizing cuisine. International foodies wonder how they’ve been missing out on the fresh, flavorful regional dishes, and sing the praises of Georgian food to anyone who will listen.

With a long history of natural agriculture, produce in Georgia is abundant, and spices like blue fenugreek, tarragon, coriander, caraway, and dill lend their subtle flavours and aromas to hearty salads and mains. Hazelnuts, walnuts, red and green plums, and pomegranates appear in unique signature Georgian sauces/condiments to accompany succulent grilled meats and oven-baked dishes. 

As Georgia is, historically, the birthplace of winemaking, grapes and wine are ever-present in their many regional varieties.

Georgians eat a lot of fresh homemade bread items, alongside artisanal cheeses and specialty dairy products. Add in fresh salads, freshly pressed pure sunflower oil, bounteous vegetable side dishes, a variety of savoury pies and rich desserts, and you’ll quickly see why Georgian cuisine is so enticing!

Eating out in Georgia

One thing that you’ll discover is that Georgia is not an early morning or breakfast culture. Georgians are late risers, and shops and businesses don’t open early (rarely before 9 am). 

Most Georgians have a cup of tea or coffee and some bread, jam or a quick pastry at home, rather than a sit-down full breakfast meal.

If you’re craving a big American-style or a proper English breakfast, you’ll be hard-pressed to satisfy that desire. It’s possible in the larger cities, and the earliest they’ll open is 8 am. A few cafes/restaurants offer sweet breakfast crepes and waffles.

Guesthouses that include breakfast will likely serve a Mediterranean-style continental breakfast. Eggs, toast, jams, yoghurt, and possibly some Georgian salad-type dishes that you wouldn’t usually consider “breakfast food” will be offered… regardless, it will be tasty!

Late rising times mean late business hours, so dinner is between 8-10 pm for Georgians. Therefore, restaurants stay open late, although in winter months on the coast, you’ll find fewer restaurants open, or open late.

Once Georgian restaurants do open (usually from 10-11 am and on), they stay open all day until closing, so between those hours, you’ll be able to tuck in for a meal whenever you’re hungry. 

Bread is often brought to the table automatically (because Georgians love bread!) but don’t assume it’s complimentary. Bread in Georgia is never costly though, and it’s perfect with soups and to sop up meaty sauces.

The Georgian custom is to share a variety of dishes among their party (think: family-style Chinese meal). So, you may experience a waiting gap between dishes served. The dishes will arrive as soon as they’re ready, not, for example, all starters together (or even starters at the start!) or all ordered mains delivered to the table at the same time. 

Not being aware of this can confound foreign diners, so plan your meal accordingly and try eating the Georgian way – it’s fun! If you enjoy wine, order a glass to tide you over.

In Batumi and Tbilisi, you’ll find a variety of international restaurants featuring Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Sushi, Mexican, Vegan and pizza.

Tipping in Georgia

In family restaurants or fine dining establishments, an 18% tax is added to the bill, plus a 10% service fee. The service fee is not a server tip.

So, although Georgians do not automatically tip, if you’re dining at a nice restaurant having a several-course meal, a 10% tip is appreciated. For smaller bills, just round up to the nearest coin or bill, if you feel to tip your server.

Snack food and bakeries

In European style, Georgians often walk down the street munching on a large fresh yeasted bread, the mainstay of Georgian baking, called puri. There are different varieties of puri, such as dedas, tonis, shoti and others, but they are all basically the same, save for shape (boat-shaped, half-moon, or round). 

They’re puffy and chewy, with crispy outsides, baked much like naan in India – the dough is stuck against the inside wall of a round clay oven called a toné, similar to a tandoor oven.

Puri shops are walk-up kiosks scattered throughout neighbourhoods and shopping districts, where a loaf costs less than a US dollar. They also offer lobiani puri, a spicy bean-stuffed long bread roll or round.

Separate bakery kiosks feature a variety of savoury and sweet, plain or filled breads and pastries for takeaway. Larger cities also have sit-down bakery shops where elaborate cakes, French-style eclairs, cream puffs and other pastries are sold, alongside Georgian desserts, coffee and tea.

Large grocery stores in major cities feature huge deli/bakery counters offering pre-made Georgian savoury dish specialities, deli meats, cheeses, and all manner of breads and bakery items for eating on the go.

Other fast food options include schwarma (beef, pork or chicken), pizza, and burgers.

The Georgian supra

Georgians are experts at feasting and hosting celebratory dinners, known as a supra. Supra literally means tablecloth or “feast.” Supras are lavish feasts held to commemorate happy events such as birthdays, weddings, births, and anniversaries, or for somber events, such as funerals.

Although these extravagant dinners may involve feasting, drinking, music and dancing, there’s a distinct order to events. A supra is guided by a tamada, or toastmaster, and specific, heartfelt toasts are made throughout the event (to God, country, family, events, the guests, the deceased, etc.). After each toast, the tamada downs a glass of wine or chacha (homebrew) and all guests are expected to do the same. 

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a family supra, enjoy a wonderful cultural experience – but pace yourself, as much liquor is consumed during an hours-long supra. If you can’t hold a lot of liquor, drink just a sip when everyone else is downing their glass.

But, even if you won’t be in Georgia long enough to get invited to a supra, you can organise a supra tour for you and your group and still get in on the delicious, exhilarating fun that is supra!

What to eat in Georgia

Georgian cuisine is a sumptuous composite of regional influences that have become distinctly Georgian. Even if you’re not an epicure, you’ll recognize the subtle Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Turkish, Caucasian, Russian and Eastern European tastes that comprise the Georgian flavour profile.

The distinct regions of Georgia all have their specialities, so as you travel the country, you’ll be exposed to variations and new dishes. Georgian cuisine is heavily meat-based, but vegetarians will find many dishes with no meat and lots of dairy. Vegans will have to look harder, but there are numerous naturally vegan dishes that will entice them, too.

Here are a few of the best Georgian dishes:


These super-sized twisted dumplings are the signature dish of Georgia. Beloved by all, their iconic image is seen on Georgian souvenirs, from jewellery to refrigerator magnets to socks!

Traditionally, these boiled dumplings are filled with minced meat (lamb, pork or beef) or are vegetarian, with spiced potato, cheese, or mushroom filling. The correct way to eat khinkali:

1. Pick one up by its knobby dough end.

2. Take a tiny bite out of one side, and suck the drippy meat juices out.

3. Bite your way through the rest of the dumpling and enjoy!

Tip: The knobby dough ends are discarded on the plate.

Because they’re enormous (about the size of a child’s fist) tender khinkali are usually sold by the plate and people make a meal of them, minimum of 5 pieces (around 1-1.50 GEL each, 57 cents USD).

Adjaruli Kachapuri: While kachapuri is scrumptious cheese-filled shoti bread, the western coastal region of Adjara takes things one step further. After the bread is baked and the cheese is melted in the centre, it’s topped with butter and a raw egg. The whole gooey, cheesy dish is then eaten by tearing off pieces of the bread boat and dipping it in the swirls of egg, butter, and cheese. This is easily Georgia’s most popular comfort food dish.

Georgian Eggplant Rolls (Badrijani Nigvzit): These delectable appetizers feature thin strips of fried eggplant covered in a spiced garlic/walnut paste, rolled into little bundles, garnished with pomegranate seeds, then served like salad (cold). 

Lobio: Marinated kidney beans, spiced with coriander, vinegar, garlic, onions, ground walnuts, chili peppers and marigold powder) are the base for this rich thick stew, usually served with a side of mchaadi, or fried corn cakes. Lobio is generally vegetarian, but some versions include meat.

Mtsvadi: Georgia’s version of a shish kebab, or grilled lamb, beef, pork or chicken on a skewer. Mtsvadi meat, marinated in lemon, tarragon, onion, salt, pepper, and pomegranate juice is prepared on an outdoor grill over burning grape vines. The result is juicy and flavorful.

Kharcho – Originally made with beef, (now also lamb or chicken) this satisfying soup is spiced with Georgian sour plum sauce (tkemeli) coriander and Georgian 5-spice mix, plus a ton of garlic.

Erlaji: Thick, creamy warm corn meal polenta porridge from the Samegrelo region of Georgia is mixed with an enormous amount of local Sulguni cheese and bahze sauce of minced walnuts, garlic and spices. 

Shkemeruli:Juicy fried chicken baked in a clay pot with a spicy garlic gravy.

Chashushuli: Hearty beef stew made with tomatoes and Georgian spices, such as basil, bay leaves, fenugreek and savory.

Mexican potatoes

This dish is not really Mexican, but for some reason, almost every Georgian restaurant menu offers a dish called “Mexican Potatoes.” The dish is simply a plate of thick-cut potato wedges (oven-baked) dusted with chilli powder, garlic powder and a few other spices.

It's served with a dairy-based dipping sauce. Tasty, and worth a mention because, while not traditionally Georgian cuisine, it’s definitely a Georgian thing!

Georgian desserts

Georgia’s dessert specialities draw from its Turkish and Russian backgrounds, with a decidedly Georgian interpretation.

Churchkela: These chewy, nutty candy ropes are made by threading walnuts on a string and coating the strands with layers of flour-thickened grape syrup. Affectionately referred to locally as “Georgian Snickers,” they come in a variety of colours; hanging in shops they look like gorgeous artisanal candles.

Tip: Try to buy churchkela at a roadside vendor in Khaketi (never packaged!) as they will be fresh and soft; they can be hard on the teeth otherwise.

Pakhlava and Baklava: You’ll find Turkish baklava in Georgian bakeries, but Georgians have their own version of baklava called Pakhlava. It’s made with a flaky dough rather than phyllo, layered with a meringue, walnut and dried fruit filling.

Georgian Kulich or Paska Bread: This towering cylindrical beauty is a sweet yeasted bread served during the Orthodox Easter celebrations. It’s lightly scented with orange, and studded with raisins.

Tklapi: You’ll see these paper-thin fruit leather sheets hanging in a market or piled in folded triangles. Despite the brilliant colours, they’re 100% natural, made from plums, grapes, apricots, and apples, and the green ones are kiwi.

Georgian Layered Honey Cake (Medok): An 8-layer cake with milk-cream frosting in-between. The toasty brown cake and creamy beige frosting are flavoured with burnt honey. 

What to drink in Georgia

Georgians are proud of their heritage as the inventors of wine, over 8,000 years ago. Therefore, you’ll find small wineries throughout the Kakheti region, plus Georgian wines throughout the country. 

Georgian wine is unique, as it is made using an ancient technique with human-sized clay pots called Qvevri, buried underground.


Georgians like their beer, and there is plenty to be sampled. From large commercial breweries to European-style beer-house chains, you can get beer at every restaurant and market; even in 5-litre bottles, so you can share.

Georgia does have a growing craft beer scene, so you’ll find craft beer in trendy bars and at their own microbreweries (mainly in Tbilisi).


Georgian home-brew with a 40-60% alcohol content, chacha is made from grape pomace, a by-product of wine making. Most families make their own, although it’s also produced commercially. Much like rakija in the Balkan states, and similar to Italian grappa, it’s powerful, so take it easy!

Coffee and tea In Georgia

Although Georgia doesn't have strong a coffee culture, per se, more and more barista coffee shops and tea shops have popped up in the major cities, often serving Georgian and European desserts. In Tbilisi and Batumi, you’ll find speciality coffees, such as red coffee, and third wave world-coffees, along with a variety of other beverages.

Georgian artisanal tea plantations are in revival, with some exquisite black, green, and herbal teas for sale in markets and available in cafes and tea houses. 

Mineral water and flavoured waters

With pristine mineral springs high in the mountains, Georgia has excellent mineral water, Borjormi being its premier mineral water brand. Also, if you see people drinking a bright green beverage at restaurants, it’s not St. Patrick’s Day, they’re simply enjoying a glass of historic Ladigze tarragon-flavored “lemonade.” 

Ladigze lemonade was created by a Georgian pharmacist in the 1800’s, who wanted to produce a natural beverage with fruit or herb syrup and soda. The various flavours are available at their signature restaurant in Tbilisi, and in markets.

Typical costs of food In Georgia

  • Cappuccino from 7.5-11 GEL ($2.85-4.18 USD, alternative milks available in trendy cafes in major cities)

  • 1 loaf fresh Georgian puri bread – 1.20-2 GEL (45-75 cents USD)

  • Khinkali dumplings -  1-1.50 GEL each, (57 cents USD)

  • Pizza, margherita – from 8.75- 25.00 GEL ($3.30-9.50 USD)

  • Shwarma – 313.52 GEL ($5.15 USD)

  • 3-course dinner for two in upscale restaurant, with wine -  125 GEL ($48.00 USD)

  • Lunch at a budget-friendly midrange local Georgian restaurant – 21-27 GEL ($8.00-10.00 USD/person)

  • 1 bottle mineral water – 1.50 GEL (57 cents USD)

  • 1 bottle of domestic beer, at a grocery (0.5 litre) – 3.57 GEL ($1.35 USD)

  • 1 bottle of good quality red wine 21 GEL ($8.00 USD)

  • 1 shot glass of local chacha – 2.50 GEL (95 cents USD) 

  • 1 litre (1 qt.) whole-fat milk 5.10 GEL ($1.93 USD)

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Maysie Dee

Author - Maysie Dee

Maysie Dee is a freelance writer, content editor, and recipe creator. She and her husband have travelled across the world for decades as natural product consultants, collecting stories along the way.

Last Updated 9 March 2024

Colourful buildings and churches in Tbilisi, Georgia


Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia offers a diverse and stunning natural landscape, intriguing history and good food and wine.