Sleeping and Dining in Tbilisi, Georgia

The capital city’s old town and modern Shota Rustaveli Avenue offer numerous hotel and restaurant options.

Shota@Rustaveli Boutique Hotel

Shota@Rustaveli Boutique Hotel, an upscale establishment just off the Freedom Square end of Shota Rustaveli Avenue, is a pleasant and quiet spot to spend a couple of days. It’s a 5 minute walk to most of the museums and 10-15 minutes to old town. The rooms are moderately sized with a comfortable bed and linens, plenty of storage and outlets for charging electronics. The bathroom is on the small size but has plenty of counter space and a roomy shower with good water pressure and plenty of hot water. Amenities include a safe, hair dryer, mini bar, a good Wi-Fi connection and a water boiler with coffee and tea. Hotel staff speaks good English and they competently arranged transportation to and from the airport.

Breakfast at Shota@Rustaveli

Served in the Melograno restaurant dining room and terrace, breakfast includes a menu of hot items – porridge, cooked to order eggs, sides of vegetables and breakfast meats – and a breakfast buffet. The cold buffet includes a selection of fruit and fresh vegies as well as baked apples, beet root and pumpkin, eggplant rolls, several bread choices, cold cuts and cheeses, dried fruit and yogurt, preserved fruit and cream and a couple kinds of cereal. They also had a couple of prepared items, i.e., cheese and meat rolled in a crepe type bread, fried corn bread with pikhali (vegetable/walnut spread) and khachapuri (cheese bread) –  all of which I thought were bland tasting. Water and juice are also available. Coffee is served to your table.

Near the Airport

Hotel Ragnar

Hotel Ragnar is a clean, basic hotel close to the airport. We couldn’t find anything better near the airport and this was perfectly fine. The recently renovated no frills room – just beds, a desk and overhead lights – worked well for one night. The room does have air conditioning and a TV. Despite the confusing descriptions on Booking.com the room did have a small but functional private bathroom. The Wi-Fi bogged down in the evening but was generally OK. They also have on-site parking. The restaurant is good and set up to serve large groups. They have an extensive menu of mostly Georgian specialties. Service was friendly and efficient and the food inexpensive and tasty.

Restaurants

Salobie Bia

Located in a lower level space on busy Shota Rustaveli Avenue, Salobie Bia’s high-ceilinged dining room is bright and decorated with a mishmash of Soviet posters and contemporary art. It’s a fun and engaging space with generously spaced tables.

The short menu focuses on Georgian classics and portions are generally large and meant to be shared. We ordered the tomato salad and the ojakhuri (roasted pork and potatoes). The tomato salad, a simple sounding dish, was the best thing I ate in Georgia. Prepared with peeled ripe tomatoes, jonjoli (a pickled local plant also called wild capers) and a local green basil, it was a flavor combination I had never experienced before and loved. The ojakhuri was well cooked and seasoned with a Georgian specialty salt/spice blend. Service was friendly and efficient.

OtsY

OtsY, an upscale restaurant located in old town, occupies an old house with a pleasant outdoor terrace and a quiet upstairs dining room with tables set with pretty table cloths and china. The short menu focuses on Georgian specialties with a modern influence. We started with the pikhali. This deconstructed version with roasted slices of eggplant, carrot, peppers and squash artfully sandwiched together with a walnut cream paste was the highlight of the meal. The mains – a trout fillet topped with a beurre blanc sauce served with asparagus and the piglet served with a green plum sauce – were both perfectly executed as was the side of roasted potatoes. Service was friendly and efficient. This is a new restaurant, opening in early 2022, and is worth checking out.

Old City Wall

Old City Wall’s brick walled and vaulted ceilinged dining room decorated with old world heavy wood furniture and wall hangings has a thematic charm. The moderately long menu offers upscale Georgian classics. Unfortunately the food doesn’t live up to the ambiance and menu sophistication.

We ordered the tomato with wild caper salad, the chicken shkmeruli (chicken in a garlic milk sauce) and the BBQ sturgeon. The salad was more wild caper than tomato. While I like wild capers we preferred the version of this salad at Salobei Bia, see above, with capers as a flavoring rather than a main ingredient. This version of shkmeruli had a much thicker and cheesier sauce compared to other versions we’ve had. It was also too salty for my tastes. For those that prefer richer dishes you may like this version better. The BBQ sturgeon was the biggest disappointment. A rather expensive dish for Georgia it contained just a few morsels of sturgeon in a plate full of mostly peppers and onions. Flavor-wise it was good, but lacking value-wise. The bread was fresh-out-of-the-oven wonderful. On a Monday evening at 7pm in mid-July the restaurant was empty when we arrived. 2 couples showed up around 8pm. Service was friendly and efficient.

Lunch

Pasanauri

There is more than one Pasanauri restaurant in Tbilisi. We ate at the one talked about in Lonely Planet and located near the Rustaveli metro station. We also saw one near the wall in old town that was much larger and had a more extensive menu.  The cozy eatery near the metro station had wooden booths and a themed décor and is supposed to have some of the best kinkhali (soup dumplings) in Tbilisi. We tried a plate of their house special kinkhali along with a cucumber and tomato salad. Everything was beautifully prepared and tasty and the service friendly and efficient.

Melograno

Melograno, located in the Shota@Rustaveli Hotel, has a spacious dining room with a small terrace in back. The terrace is lovely in the morning or evening but is in full sun at midday. The menu includes more international options than most menus in Tbilisi, so if you are looking for something besides Georgian food it’s a good option. We tried their beet salad, the pasta Arrabiata and the chicken burger with fries. Everything was well executed. The beet salad had greens and goat cheese and tasted much like it would in the US. The pasta was nicely cooked and the Arrabiata sauce had good heat. The chicken burger was a coated and fried thick piece of chicken breast, well cooked and moist. The fries were spot on.

For links to all the posts in this series see the Southern Caucasus – Georgia/Armenia page.

Mid-July, 2022