Tbilisi for vegetarians
If you are planning your trip to Tbilisi, you have probably heard that Georgians eat lots of meat, bread, and cheese. In this case, what should vegetarians and vegans do in this country?.. We can assure you: no matter what type of food you prefer, you surely will not stay hungry in Tbilisi!
Traditional Georgian dishes
Khinkali, satsivi, kharcho… Although Georgian cuisine consists of many dishes based on meat ingredients, it also offers a large selection of vegetarian dishes. In any city restaurant — even in a small suburban cafe, you will definitely find several raw food and vegetable options. However, let us start from the beginning of your healthy meal!
Vegetarian appetizers include Nigvziani Badridzhani (eggplants with walnuts) and Pkhali (chopped vegetables combined with walnut and herbs). Pkhali is distinctive for its variety of versions: there are pkhali made of eggplant, spinach, beans, beets, or cabbage. We recommend you to order a platter, so you have a chance to find out which one is your favorite.
Traditional Georgian salad is the number 1 in your vegetarian/vegan menu of salads. It is simple and delicious: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, aromatic Kakhetian oil, and grated walnuts. To make it taste even better, order a Megruli or Imeruli khachapuri. Unlike their famous brother, Ajarian khachapuri, these ones do not have eggs in their recipe: just different types of cheese and dough.
Ready for the main course? Lobio (stew) and Lobiani (another kind of khachapuri-type bread) are both made from beans, which makes them quite a sustainable meal. Lobio is normally served with different pickles and mchadi (Georgian cornbread). Georgians love herbs and spices that is why all the dishes have very strong and complex flavors. The main ingredient of the legendary lobio, for example, is coriander.
Ajapsandali — the so-called “Georgian Ratatouille” — is another popular vegan dish. The best thing about it is that it has all sorts of vegetables in it and it can be served warm or cold. No matter how and when it is just heavenly.
All these unpronounceable names will put a piece of a Georgian soul into you… Be careful! You might start dreaming of khinkali. If so, go for cheese and mushroom ones. They will let your own self and your new Georgian self make friends and just be ultimately happy.
This shortlist does not include all the existing vegetarian options, so feel free to check the cafe’s menus for other suitable positions. Moreover, if you are interested in real non-touristy Tbilisi life, visit local markets (the Dezerter Bazaar near Station Square, for example) to find an enormous amount of fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. Strawberries in June, watermelons in July, peaches in August, tomatoes in September, persimmons in winter. There is always something juicy to eat in Tbilisi!
Restaurants and cafes
Now you have tried all the Georgian vegetarian dishes and you might be in the mood for something classic. If you are looking for the traditional Mediterranean, European and Asian food, Tbilisi can offer you a variety of vegetarian and vegan cafes to all tastes. Here we will discuss just a couple of them.
Cafe Leila — probably the most popular touristic vegan spot in Tbilisi — is located in the heart of the old city center, right next to the legendary Gabriadze theatre. It is known for its remarkable interior, magical atmosphere of a bohemian restaurant and, of course, for its great choice of vegan-friendly options in the menu.
Another nice cafe Hurma with lovely stuff and all-day breakfasts has good coffee with soymilk, veggie soups, tuna wrap, and wok. This place is popular with the locals and has a certain community around it. A cozy atmosphere with beautiful interior details will let you make a couple of great pictures for your Instagram.
Kiwi Vegan Café is also a popular vegan spot. Their menu includes a range of dishes from tofu (burrito, cheeseburger, sandwich etc.) and eggplant. Kiwi Café also works as a free social meeting place for people who are concerned about environmental issues. Vegans will be delighted by the place!
After a while, you might miss classic pita and hummus, visit Hummusbar in this case. A variety of homemade dishes including hummus will not leave you indifferent. For vegetarians who are interested in something special, we would recommend shakshuka, poached eggs with lots of tomatoes. This cozy place is a bit hidden in the yards, so look carefully for the secret entrance.
And some more:
- Stop by Mamma Terra for delicious kombucha tea.
- Find natural dairy-free gelato at Cone Culture.
- Add soy, coconut or nut milk to your coffee at Entree, Brotmeister, Luca Polare, Lui Cafe, Hurma Cafe, and Erti Cava.
- Order all kinds of vegetarian khinkali at Marto Khinkali and observe the cook making them behind the glass.
- Steel a little of ripe fruit from your neighbors’ garden. They will be happy to see you enjoying their grapes or pomegranate 🙂
All in all, we think you have already got some idea of this endless feast happening all year round in Tbilisi. Just make sure you have some Borjomi for your exhausted but the happy stomach. For more recommendations visit our Tbilisi travel blog!