In Search of an Urban Oasis - A quick Tbilisi Restaurant/Café Guide
18 September, 2014
In Search of an Urban Oasis - A quick Tbilisi Restaurant/Café Guide
I have gone impressive (depressing?) stretches of time without leaving the stretch of the city that is mtatsminda-sololaki-old town. I think it’s a wonderful place to live with a multitude of dining options and general things to do. However, there are times when you must venture outside your natural geographic zone of contact. So where do you go when you find yourself lost in the concrete jungle of Tbilisi in need of an urban oasis to recharge the batteries of your
body and gadgets? Here are a couple tucked away spots in various districts worth checking out when you are wandering around town and are in need to just chill for a couple hours over some food and refreshments.


Saburtalo

So you had to go out to pick up a package on Kavtaradze Street because there were some problems with customs, and after doing all the paperwork, etc., you can finally get your widget your mailed to yourself. But now you are hungry. You don’t know anyone who lives down here: Vazha past Delisi Metro is an unknown void where metros only go one way back and forth and every other marshutka has roman numerals. Is that khatchapuri spot good? You know there are a couple Indian spots somewhere around here that are good, but you are busy later in the day and don’t want to roll the dice on digestion times. Your battery only has a 36 percent charge and its only 2:10pm.
Relax. I got you covered, cause I’ve been there: Now, go all the way to the end of Vazha, all the way. Just keep going. It’s called Strada. It is very nice, and it is so far down Vazha you can’t imagine. They have a clear image and aesthetic they are going for, an urban café, as they call it, describes it as well as any. The service is swift, friendly, and even enthusiastic to serve some foreigners. The food is very good, with a large selection of both meat and veggie options. And the décor is pleasant with a long patio dining area. Without a doubt it’s one of the most out of the way locations, but that makes it a destination unto itself.

Vera

You were going to meet some friends for dinner and drinks tonight, they live in Vake and you are already out and don’t want to go home for just an hour or two. You are on Rustaveli, or near the Philharmonia where to go? Maybe the Beer Gardens but its starting to become cold again and you don’t want to sit alone outside. Maybe Elvis, it’s warm, but loud and fluorescent. You just want something light, and some tea, before what will inevitably be a long night.
Don’t worry. Go to 64 Barnovi. Open the gate. Yo­ur welcome! It’s a half backyard garden/clot­hing store/cafe, O, Moda Moda. The first thing you need to know is that I have personally seen them use artichokes and avocados in various dishes. Name two other restaurants in Tbilisi that have artichokes and avocados in the fridge… its OK, ill wait. The dining room is all clean lines and warm wood, focusing into a view of the open kitchen. It feels like this would be the kind of place that is trying too hard as there is also a small clothing boutique selling various art, fashions and accessories, or that the staff’s general vibe would be too cool for school, but its not. It’s friendly, and just the right amount of self-conscious hipsterness to guarantee a consistent experience that understands quality. Also the chairs in the garden are deceptively comfortable. The service is quick and they have their own Lagidze-style lemonades.

Old Town

It is likely somewhat difficult for most ‘residence holders’ to be too far from somewhere you know enough to kill two hours in walking between and around Freedom and Maidan squares. The consistent thing about these three places across their disparate districts is they are perfect for pulling out a laptop or book, having a coffee or salad or sandwich, charging your phone and relaxing. And while between Lesiledze, Erekle II and the various side streets, which back into the ridgeline there are a half dozen or more good to great places. If you need to just sit down listen to some chill, well-curated background tunes, pet the cats, have a bite and just chill, Moulin Electrique at 28 Lesiledze in the courtyard by the small synagogue is still the best at what they do. With artsy interior, great music, family vibe and very fast internet, it’s comfortable day or night although much busier on summer nights than you would imagine. Sandwiches, salads, soups, all are prepared quickly and consistently. Great for more than just killing some time during the day, it excels as a comfortable lunch spot to get some work done or to have an informal meeting, when busy and on the run around the city all day.
All three of these spots are notable for being the best places in their area to kill some time and get off your feet while exploring or on the move around the city. They are modern and well run, with good quality food and service. They all excel at creating an inviting environment where spending a few hours will be a comfortable proposition.

Author: Cory Greenberg
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