The country of Georgia was top on our list of countries to travel to and when living in Europe, it seemed an easy trip. With some unique foods and historic wine heritage, the list of what to eat in Georgia is extensive. Our Georgian Food Guide includes 40+ must-eat dishes.
Georgian Hospitality Through Georgian Food
There is a Georgian saying: “The guest is the gift of God.” We certainly saw this hospitality shine through at every stop we made during our food journey through Georgia.
A “Supra” is a Georgian feast, normally involving a lot of food and a lot of wine, with a good amount of toasting as well. The tamada, or toastmaster, leads the toasts throughout the meal with the goal of getting their guests drunk. The Georgians love to drink. We toasted to new friends, old friends, and always ended with a drink for the family.
Although much of our journey was to learn about the history of Georgian wine, we ate numerous Georgian specialties as we traveled across the country. This included regional specialties served to us at various homes or farmhouses – true Georgian hospitality.
What To Eat In Georgia (The Country) – 40+ Georgian Foods To Try
When people ask us to describe food in Georgia, we generally respond with some combination of meat, dumplings, and cheesy bread. Although there are other Georgian foods, including incredible salads, meat dumplings, and various types of cheesy bread form the bulk of the cuisine. The food of Georgia is hearty, bright, colorful, and regional, with different variations of national dishes in each region.
This Georgian food guide starts with various types of breads and then moves on to starters, salads, the famous Georgian dumplings, and also includes snacks and desserts.
Khinkali – Georgian Meat Soup Dumplings – Georgia’s National Dish
I am not entirely sure if this is the national dish of Georgia, but it should be. Khinkali is pretty much synonymous with Georgia. So much so that I now have socks with khinkali on them and these tasty dumplings also hang from my keychain.
Khinkali is a large pork-filled meat dumpling that is also filled with a bit of hot broth. They are steamed or boiled and served piping hot. They are reminiscent of Xao Long Bao from Taiwan and China. The main difference is that the Asian soup dumpling is much more thin and delicate, whereas the Georgian meat dumpling is thick and hefty.
It seemed every person we met had a different way to eat khinkali, but most agree that they should be sprinkled with black pepper and eaten by hand. You start by eating around the edges a bit and then sucking out the warm pork soup that is inside. Some turn them over using the folds almost as a handle, leaving the handle behind. I generally couldn’t stop myself and would eat the whole thing.
As meaty as these are, it is possible to find vegetarian khinkali, filled with vegetables or cheese.
There were some Georgian dishes that reminded us of Italy, in particular regions like Puglia, which is known for its cucina povera, or poor cuisine. Many traditional dishes focused on simple ingredients, like flour, water, and egg. It’s why Italy is so known for pasta.
The country of Georgia is quite similar. Many families traditionally felt that if there was bread, all would be okay. It’s why there are so many variations of bread and sometimes multiple types of bread will be served at one meal.
Shoti, Shoti Puri, Tonis Puri – Warm Bread
Shoti bread is made in a traditional stone oven called a tone, which is similar to an Indian tandoor. The bread is stretched and placed inside the tone, again, similar to Indian naan. This type of cooking is what gives the shot its unique shape, almost like the shape of a canoe.
Shoti is best purchased when warm from the bakery. Everyone jokes that it is rare to make it home with the entire shoti intact. I can testify that the first warm shoti we bought from a bakery didn’t make it far. We ate it while walking around the neighborhood before it cooled.
Khachapuri – Georgian Cheese Bread
Khachapuri is perhaps one of the most famous Georgian foods. Again, similar to regional differences in Italian cuisine, Georgian cuisine and in particular khachapuri come in a variety of types depending on the region. At its most basic, khachapuri is a Georgian cheesy bread. There are different versions and shapes, all filled with cheese, but also topped or filled with egg, butter, or meat. Here are a few of the most common versions of khachapuri to find when eating in Georgia.
Some sources report there being over 50 varieties of khachapuri in Georgia. Here are the ones that are most common to find in areas most visited by tourists, or on restaurant menus in Tbilisi.
This is the most recognizable of the khachapuri and comes from the seaside region of Adjara. Although we didn’t visit Adjara it’s easy to find this boat-shaped cheese bread in Tbilisi.
Whereas most varieties of khachapuri are made from bread and cheese, Acharulian khachapuri is topped with cheese, a slab of butter, and a raw egg. The goal is to mix up the cheese, butter, and egg on the warm bread to make a gooey treat. Then, rip apart the crust of the bread to dip into the creamy mixture in the center of the Acharulian Khachapuri.
Megrelian Khachapuri, or Megruli Khachapuri, is another bread variety. This one is from Samegrelo, a region on the Black Sea. This version of khachapuri is made on the stovetop and includes double cheese. It’s essentially made with cheese inside the bread and on top of the bread. Sometimes it includes mashed egg.
Although khachapuri is made across the country and each region has its own version, there are a lot of people who say the Imerulian Khachapuri is the one that rules. This version has cheese stuffed inside the bread. When the bread is pulled apart, the strings of cheese come oozing out.
Modern takes on Khachapuri also include a Khachapurito, which reminded me of a Georgian quesadilla, which we ate at Cafe Leila in Tbilisi.
Lobiani – Red Bean Stuffed Bread
Coming from the Georgian word for bean, “lobio”, lobiani is a version of khachapuri made using kidney beans in a bean paste. It’s commonly made in the same round shape as other versions of khachapuri, but the version we had was round like a log. This is a popular dish around the feast of St. Barbara, lobiani has a distinctive smokiness thanks to the use of smoked ham.
Kubdari – Meat Stuffed Bread
Made using either lamb, beef, or pork, kubdari is a bread that originates from Georgia’s Svaneti region. This region is in Northwest Georgia, on the border of Russia. Also referred to as “kuptaari”, the meat in Kubdari is generally cubed or sliced and rather than minced. The meat is spiced with cumin, dill, onions, and other local Georgian spices.
Nazuki – Georgian Spiced Bread
An elusive Georgian bread, nazuki is found mostly in the small town of Surami in the Shida Kartli region of Western Georgia. A spicy bread, nazuki gets its distinctive kick from cinnamon and cloves.
Lining the road leading to and from Surami, dozens of bakers each make their own version of nazuki. It’s the perfect stopping point to stretch your legs and grab a sweet, warm, snack. It’s more difficult to find this bread in other parts of the country.
Mchadi – Fried Cornbread
Mchadi is a traditional Georgian fried cornbread usually eaten with lobio (beans) and cheese. This Georgian bread is typically served alongside a variety of vegetable dips including eggplant and spinach. It’s very popular throughout Georgia with each region adding its own twist.
Chvishtari – Cheese Corn Bread
Also referred to as chishdvaar, chvishtari is cornbread stuffed with Sulguni cheese and fried. Originating in the Svaneti region, chvishtari is also very popular in the Samegrelo region, although made slightly different. We saw this version being made at a Georgian winery. It was filled with cheese, topped with extra cheese, and then served with pickled vegetables. It has a similar consistency to mchadi, a corn bread, but this version includes the cheese in the middle.
This is a truly unique bread. A specialty of northern Georgia, koteri is a bread stuffed with cottage cheese and erbo. Erbo is a boiled butter, which they say is healthier than regular butter. It’s difficult to find on restaurant menus around Georgia.
Chebureki – Fried, Meat-Stuffed Bread
Chebureki is the Georgian answer to the empanada. It’s a meat-stuffed fried bread typically stuffed with either minced pork or beef. Best of all, chebureki also contains a hot, flavorful broth. The flaky pastry is strong enough to contain the meat and broth mixture yet light and airy.
Pkhali – Georgian Walnut Paste
This is why vegetarians love Georgian cuisine. As much as the cuisine can be meat-heavy, particularly with one of the most popular dishes in Georgia being meat dumplings, there are also loads of salads and fresh vegetables.
Pkhali is a traditional dish of minced vegetables including cabbage, eggplant beets, and spinach. These vegetables are prepared with herbs, garlic, vinegar, and ground walnuts, a staple in many popular Georgian dishes.
A pureed walnut sauce is the common ingredient in every pkhali variation. On nearly every restaurant menu as an appetizer, pkhali is usually served in three types, spinach, beetroot, and white beans.
Jonjoli – Picked Sprouts
Jonjoli is a unique Georgian pickled appetizer. It is made using the sprouts from a local jonjoli bush. The sprouts are served at the beginning of a meal alongside other pickled vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers.
Satsivi – Chicken In Walnut Sauce
Satsivi is a thick paste made from local walnuts. Served cold, Satsivi is used in a variety of traditional poultry dishes. It can also be used on fish and vegetable dishes. Traditionally, satsivi was eaten primarily at Christmas and New Year. Today it can be found throughout the year and on nearly every restaurant menu, particularly in Tblisi.
Matsoni – Georgian Yogurt With Honey And Walnuts
Considered the healthiest yogurt by the Georgians, matsoni is a fermented milk yogurt. Think and creamy, matsoni is mild with a slightly sour taste. Extremely popular throughout Georgia, matsoni can be easily found on breakfast buffets at local guesthouses and Western hotels.
If you head to Alaverdi Monastery in Eastern Georgia, make sure to visit the restaurant across from the monastery. They serve a delicious matsoni topped with walnuts and honey.
In a country with dozens of different types of cheesy bread, there’s no wonder there are a variety of different types of cheese that are typical in Georgian cuisine.
Sulguni – Georgian Cheese
Sometimes referred to as Georgian mozzarella, sulguni is an incredibly popular Georgian cheese. Originating from the Samegrelo region of Western Georgia, sulguni is soft and stretchy.
A brined cheese (meaning prepared in salted water), it has both sour and salty taste characteristics. Because it is brined, sulguni has the nickname pickle cheese” To mask its distinctive odor, sulguni is often served fried, with a side of local honey. It’s also often served with shoti or puri bread, with a plateful of sliced tomatoes.
Imeretian cheese is a cow’s milk cheese from the Imereti region of Georgia. It is very popular throughout Georgia. It is the primary cheese used when making khachapuri bread. Imeretian cheese can also be found in salads and dishes requiring a mild melted cheese.
Imeretian is made in only one or two days. It’s a soft cheese with a springy texture. Its flavor is slightly sour and salty. You’ll be eating a lot of Imeretian cheese during any trip to Georgia.
One of, if not the oldest type of cheese made in Georgia, Tushuri guda is not the Gouda cheese you might be thinking of. Made from either sheep, cow, or a combination of sheep and cow’s milk, Tushuri guda comes from the Tusheti in northeastern Georgia.
The geography of this part of Georgia weighs heavily into Tushuri guda. High altitude, microclimates, and distinctive flora all affect the taste of Tushuri guda. Tushuri guda takes its name from the sheepskin sack used to ripen the milk. The sheep’s skin is turned inside out in order for the wool to be in direct contact with ripening cheese. This technique has been used for over 6,000.
Nadugi – Cheese Roll
For cheese lovers, Nadugi is the dish for you. A traditional Georgina cheese snack, Nadugi is made using thin slices of sulguni wrapped and filled with mint, pomegranate, and yes, fresh cheese. Nadugi is light, refreshing, and a stroke of genius. We tried a very modest version at a cheese counter at a local market in Tblisi.
A Georgian delicacy, Dambal’khacho is made using buttermilk cottage cheese. This cottage cheese is the remnants of churning butter. Salted and dried over a flame, Dambal’khacho is then placed in a clay pot for 2-3 months. The result is Dambal’khacho’s distinctive mold. Originally from the mountainous regions of Mtiuleti and Pshavi, Dambal’khacho can now be found in many of the main tourist areas of Georgia.
Tenili Yveli – Stringy Cheese
Making cheese takes a lot of work. Then there’s making Tenili Yveli cheese. A UNESCO non-material heritage designated product, Tenili Yveli comes from the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions of southern Georgia.
Made using either cow’s or sheep’s milk with high-fat content, Tenili Yveli is repeatedly pulled and stretched by hand until thin. The thin strands of cheese are the trademark of Tenili Yveli. Because making this cheese is difficult and labor-intensive, it’s more expensive than most Georgian cheese and made in smaller quantities.
Ajika – Georgian Chili Paste
Ajika is a hot and spicy Georgian sauce similar to harissa or sambal. The dish originates from the Samegrelo and Abkhazia regions of western Georgia. The main ingredients in ajika are red pepper, garlic, and dried spices.
ajika comes in many variations including a green version made using unripe peppers. It is added to fish and meat dishes as well as those containing potatoes, beans, and tomatoes.
Chikhirtma – Chicken Soup
Made using a rich chicken broth, thickened with beaten eggs, and lemon curd Chikhirtma is a traditional Georgian soup from eastern Georgia. Chikhirtma has a slightly sour taste thanks to the use of vinegar. Its creamy consistency is due in part to the nearly five minutes of constant stirring.
Lobio – Georgian Red Bean Soup
Lobio is the Georgian word for beans. There are several varieties of beans found in Georgia including kidney beans. Lobio also refers to a traditional Georgia food dish of cooked or stewed beans, coriander, walnuts, garlic, and onions.
Lobio can be served as a hot or cold dish. The dish can be spicy depending on where you are eating it. One version to look for on menus is Lobio Qotanshi. This is a version cooked in a small clay pot. We ate a few different varieties of lobio during our trip and they were each different depending on what part of the country we were in.
Mtsvane Lobio Nigvzit – Georgian Green Beans
Another version of beans, this time green beans made with tomatoes and onion. We ate this version at Maema in Tbilisi, with a view over the city.
Badrijani Nigvzit – Eggplant With Walnut Sauce
Badrijani is a Georgian appetizer made with cooked eggplant. The eggplant is sliced and stuffed with a combination of spiced walnut and garlic paste. Badrijani is often topped with pomegranate seeds. It’s a very popular dish around Georgia and is available in most restaurants.
Tolma (or Dolma)
Tolma is a very popular dish in Georgia as well as the surrounding countries. Known as dolma in neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, there are several variations to this traditional dish.
Tolma describes a filled, hollowed-out vegetable, eggplant, peppers, or cabbage which is then wrapped in a leaf. Fillings include beef or pork as well as a wide range of vegetables. In Georgia, tolma is usually enjoyed with a side of sour cream. They reminded me if the stuffed cabbage my grandmother made.
Adjapsandali – Eggplant And Tomato
Ajapsandali is a traditional family dish found throughout the Caucasus region. Ajapsandali is made using eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, and cilantro. The ingredients are blended together to form a dip.
Seasoned with fresh herbs, it’s a refreshing and healthy dish to enjoy with bread. Because of its popularity around the region, Ajapsandali is easily found on most restaurant menus in Georgia.
Gebzhalia – Cottage Cheese
Gebzhalia is a softened cheese dish from the Samegrelo region. Traditionally prepared using cottage cheese, it can also be made using matsoni cheese. Mint, garlic, and peppers are added to the mixture for flavoring. The mixture is rolled into balls and served in a yogurt sauce over hominy or grits.
Tashmi Jabi – Mashed Potatoes And Cheese
Tashmi Jabi is a hearty traditional Georgian dish of mashed potatoes and cheese. Suluguni and Chkinti are the two most popular kinds of cheese used in Tashmi Jabi. They are blended into the mashed potatoes to form a thick and sticky mixture. When you lift the spoon expect a gooey trail of cheese and potatoes to follow.
Elarji – Georgian “Polenta”
Elarji is a popular dish from Georgia’s Samegrelo region. It is made using coarse cornmeal, cornflour, and Sulguni cheese. Similar to polenta, various toppings can be added to Elarji. Shashkhi with Elarji is an Abkhaz version topped with smoked ham. Baje, Georgian walnut sauce, is the traditional and most commonly found topping for Elarji.
Bazhe – Walnut Sauce
Bazhe is a popular Georgian sauce made using walnuts, garlic, and a variety of local spices. Typically served with fried chicken, fish, or gomi (cornmeal), Bazhe can also be served in vegetable dishes including roasted cauliflower. This traditional sauce is customarily served at Georgian feasts called supras but can be found on most restaurant menus.
Mtsvadi – Grilled Meat Skewers
Mtsvadi is a traditional Georgian food dish consisting of salted, skewered meats. Similar to shish kebab, ground pork, mutton, or veal is marinated, put on metal skewers, and grilled over an open flame.
For pork lovers, keep an eye out for ghoris mtsvadi. This version of mtsvadi consists of lean cuts of pork tenderloin. Mtsvadi is served with tkemali, a Georgian plum sauce, raw onion, and sliced tomatoes.
Chkmeruli – Chicken In Cream Sauce
Chkmeruli is a traditional Georgian dish made with chicken in a heavy, garlic cream sauce. Baked in a traditional Georgian clay dish called a ketsi, Chkmeruli is not the healthiest of dishes. However, it can easily be found on most restaurant menus.
Shkmeruli – Garlic Chicken
Shkmeruli is a chicken dish from the Racha region of Georgia. Made using young chickens cooked in milk and garlic, Shkmeruli is a hearty and filling dish. Regional variation of the dish can be found around Georgia including Qatami Shqmerulad from Abkhazia.
Khbos Chashushuli – Georgian Beef Stew
Chashushuli is a popular Georgian beef stew made with tomato and local spices. In Georgia, the name chashushuli means stewed. A rich and hearty dish, chashushuli pairs perfectly with local Georgian wines and warm shoti bread. Chashushuli is more of a winter dish, but can be found on menus throughout the year.
Kharcho – Beef Rice Soup
Kharcho, also known as Harcho, is a traditional Georgian soup typically made with beef, rice, cherry plum purée, and chopped walnuts. Some variations substitute chicken for the beef, while others remove the rice. Regardless of the variations, Kharcho is usually served with chopped cilantro and warm bread.
Tkemali – Sour Plum Sauce
Although originally from Western Georgia, tkemali is known throughout the country now. It’s a sour plum sauce that can come in a variety of flavors and colors. Tkemali can be green, red, or yellow and can be anywhere on the spectrum from sweet to sour. Some are a little spicy too. It’s often served with grilled meat.
Georgian Foods And Desserts
We are not huge dessert people. And, the food in Georgia tends to be heavy. Plus with the Georgian hospitality, we ate a LOT of food during our weeks exploring the country. Every restaurant, homestay, and winery we visited fed the two of us enough food for 10. As a result, we didn’t get to a lot of desserts. That said, there are some great snacks that are super unique to Georgia that should be tried.
Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian food candle-shaped candy. The main ingredients are grape must, nuts, and flour. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and chocolate and sometimes raisins are threaded onto a string, dipped in thickened grape juice or fruit juices, and dried in the shape of a sausage.
Throughout Georgia, dried fruits including persimmon (khurma) are very popular. Known in Georgia as “chiri”, dried fruits include locally grown apples, grapes, and cherries.
Tklapi – Rolled, Dried Fruit
I often hate making these sorts of comparisons, but tklapi is like a Georgian fruit roll-up. Fruit is pureed, then rolled out thin, and dried in the sun. It can normally be found in the same stalls and shops as churchkhela. Some are sweet and others are tart or sour.
FAQs – Traditional Georgian Food
Georgia is an old country visited by countless cultures. All of these cultures left their mark on traditional Georgian food. Mainstays of Georgian food include cheese, bread, pork, and delicious salads. Dozens of spices from the East and the West are featured in traditional Georgian food.
Without a doubt, the most famous food in Georgia is Khinkali. Khinkali is Georgia’s take on the dumpling. It is mainly meat-filled, but non-meat versions exist. They are dense, filling, and delicious. You’ll find them at nearly every meal.
Call it “Georgian Pizza” if you’d like but khachapuri hands down the most popular dish in Georgia. Expect to find khachapuri on every single menu in Georgia. There are several variations but the most traditional khachapuri is simply pastry topped with cheese, butter, and an egg.