Wine Factory #1
Ghvinis Karkhana #1 (“Wine Factory” in Georgian) in the Vera neighborhood is a historical landmark built in the late 19th century, maintaining its prestigious status throughout the Soviet era. The name “Ghvinis Karkhana #1” has its roots in the Soviet past when an actual factory of that name operated here. Today, however, its territory includes a museum (for more information, please see the winter 2019 issue of Adventurer), several restaurants, entertainment facilities, a food market, a flower shop, an old enoteca, an antique shop, a cocktail bar, a wine shop, a culinarium where culinary masterclasses are delivered, and even an outdoor movie theater.
The wine factory also incorporates an old garden with enormous trees, one of them even older than the factory itself. Spending a summer evening here is the best way to escape Tbilisi’s heat, and there are several nice hideaways we can recommend:
Shushabandi towers over the wine factory’s vast terrace and Melikishvili Avenue. This section of the restaurant mirrors a quintessential Tbilisi-style interior. Even today, many urban homes are adorned with similar wood-framed glass balconies, known in Georgian as a shushabandi, hence the name of the restaurant.
The restaurant consists of several areas: two Bohemian-style dining halls, open terraces, and a small room housing a bar. Between one of the halls and the bar room there is what seems to be a magical door separating two different dimensions. On one side there is the dining hall where you can enjoy Georgian dishes and wines and likely listen to old traditional songs, while on the other side you will find yourself in a cocktail bar with disco music blasting over Marshall-brand loudspeakers, the perfect way to make you feel like dancing. The place’s excellent bartenders will come up with cocktails matching your mood and taste. Pay attention to another room inside the bar which leads out into a small round balcony where you may encounter people seeking peace and quiet and enjoying fresh air just like you.
A new space, more on the Near Eastern side stylistically, is expected to be added to Shushabandi this summer. This lounge with dim lighting will serve Western Asian dishes and feature a DJ along with the aesthetics of The Arabian Nights. In the meantime, just keep in mind that Shushabandi offers a modernized version of Georgian cuisine. We recommend the classic Imereti-style roast chicken in blackberry sauce and snacks like tone Georgian bread bruschetta with toppings from all over Georgia, such as guda cheese from Tusheti and lori ham from Racha, or even fig preserves, which seem to be made to accompany meat and pâté, and hold a special place in the assortment of traditional Georgian preserves.
Open: 12:00 PM - 6:00 AM
Call: 558 23 10 50
brunch, buffets, and vegetarian
Good for kids
Street Food Space
As mentioned above, Shushabandi overlooks a vast terrace, which is actually Street Food Space, where you can get to through the flower shop entrance or via the Candy and Taqueria terrace. The joint is open from noon to midnight. Here you can try street food from a variety of brands like pitas with different stuffing at Poma, and possibly wash them down with chacha grappa, homemade wine, or gin and tonic. Next is Chichico with airy chicken meat wrapped in waffles and smothered with all kinds of sauces. Crepe Factory, on the other hand, offers diverse pancakes and sangria. Big L Grill & Bar serves five kinds of hotdogs, different sandwiches, draft beer, cocktails, and Zhuzhuna, a new sparkling Georgian wine brand.
Here you can also buy handicraft items. The music is loud enough, and people are constantly swarming around, especially on weekends. You can easily spend a few hours here.
Veris Duqani is another project by the celebrated Tbilisi-based chef Keti Bakradze. The restaurant opened almost a year ago to emerge as a place serving traditional, conventional Georgian dishes with a delicate innovative touch or two, and meals based on auteur recipes discovered in private household collections to enrich the food with a special flavor.
Veris Duqani is modeled after a typical Tbilisi diner from the 19th century. Bakradze truly embraced the approach in developing the concept of this restaurant, which offers a wide choice of affordable wines with simple and affordable dishes.
You may find yourself debating between the following trios: purple tomatoes/basil/squeaky sulguni cheese or guda cheese/tarragon/shoti bread toasts. But that’s not all. More temptations are on their way in the form of baby potatoes, fresh green tkemali sour plum sauce, and roast chicken vs fried tree mushrooms and the most delicious thin Imeruli (Imereti-style) khachapuri based on a recipe from Bakradze’s own grandmother. As you may know, the beauty of Imeruli khachapuri is its thin and soft crust. At Veris Duqani, you can always count on extra quality guda cheese from Tusheti. In case you are curious about this cheese variety, Veris Duqani is your place in town.
Open: 12:00 AM - 2:00 AM
Call: 591 39 32 32
Serves lunch, dinner, drinks, and coffee
Good for groups
Veris Duqani has both indoor and outdoor space, but in summer nothing compares to sitting in the factory’s courtyard, of course.
Pinzeria by Bontempi
We wrote about this place in our previous issue, but it so perfectly harmonizes with the Wine Factory summer setting that we must absolutely repeat ourselves: it is one of the finest Italian restaurants in Tbilisi, one offering an open area, a DJ on weekends, cocktails in an outdoor bar, and special pinzas baked by an Italian chef.
Pinzeria has a very attentive, warmhearted owner ready to chat with you and even offer you a glass of appetizing wine.
Taqueria Teko’s Tacos
A cheerful, colorful environment with Mexican-style potato wedges, tortilla chips with guacamole, and salsa sauce which goes perfectly well with Georgian dishes, too.
This restaurant is the project of famous Georgian chef Tekuna Gachechiladze, who guarantees the quality of ingredients, the originality of dishes, and a refined taste which you can see for yourself.
The restaurant has an outdoor area with colorful chairs and tables, cacti, agaves, and palm trees, where scores gather to spend summer evening drinking tequila and having fun.
Green Spaces near Tbilisi
In the summer, especially on hot days, Tbilisi’s residents traditionally head out of town to picnic and relax, with summerhouse green areas around the city having always been favored to that end, such as Okrokana, Tskneti, Kojori, and Betania. Many owned and still own summerhouses here. For those who usually seek restaurants with cool open areas, here are two of them:
Chveni Ezo Restaurant
Restaurant Chveni Ezo (“Our Yard” in English) is located on the right side near the Bulachauri village exit off the Tbilisi-Gudauri Highway. You can dine here in an indoor banquet hall and special booths, but in the summer the green courtyard is everyone’s favorite. While waiting for your order in the shade of lime and walnut trees, you can watch your children have fun in the courtyard’s special playground. The courtyard offers a wooden swing and gazebos also built of wood and covered with tiles. The distance between the gazebos is large enough to prevent noisy feasters next door from bothering you, though the loud live music after 7 P.M. may irritate you anyway.
The food here is traditional Georgian with conventional restaurant flavors. From July through early September, make sure to order Caesar’s mushrooms and crown your meal with cold desserts like strained matsoni kefir with honey and walnuts.
Call: 599 80 18 01
Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and drinks
Good for Kids
Zghapari is a genuine paradise of Imereti cuisine just 10 minutes by car from Tbilisi, on the right side of the road near the village of Tsitsamuri, one kilometer after the Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta. You can see the restaurant’s yard from the road exiting into a green willow alley with gazebos and small roofed huts nested here and there and cats prowling around in the greenery.
The food and service here will make you feel like you’re in a typical Imereti village—cheese is broken into pieces, just like it’s done in rural areas, thin Imereti-style mchadi cornbread is baked in clay ketsi pans, pkhali minced vegetable dishes are seasoned with walnuts, vinegar, and spices, and again, quintessential Imereti-style roast chicken is served with blackberry sauce or, depending on your choice, with fresh tkemali sour plum sauce. To cap it all off, they will bake amazingly thin and yet cheese-laden khachapuri cheese bread, and even treat you to a crispy crunchy roasted suckling piglet if you make a reservation in advance. You can also count on seasonal fruit beverages and, also depending on the season, Caesar’s mushrooms fried to perfection.
Open: 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Call: 596 00 09 00
Just 20 minutes from Tbilisi, on the Kojori-Betania crossroad at 1200 meters above sea level, you find yourself in a vast yard nested in greenery, with fresh air, the famed Betania breeze, mesmerizing views, and fine Georgian/European cuisine. You can spend all day here—swings, hammocks, and lounge-style food are at your disposal! Feeling really hungry? No problem! They’ll serve a fresh dish of your choice or roast khinkali dumplings.
Call: 557 16 11 44 or 599 26 02 08.
Open until 10 PM every day except on Mondays.