The Kutaisi restaurants, cafes and wine bars where you can try traditional Imeretian cuisine, local wine, and fabulous coffee and tea.

Kutaisi may be small, but it’s one of my favourite destinations in Georgia. Not least of all because it has a food scene to rival Tbilisi.

Charming bohemian interiors, live music most nights of the week, and home-cooked renditions of some of Georgia’s most beloved regional dishes – Kutaisi has it all.

Since moving to Kutaisi, I’ve been excited to try some of the new restaurants, cafes and wine bars that had opened up since my last visit.

I’m still eating my way across the city thus this restaurant guide is a work in progress!

Whether you’re on a short layover or spending a few days in Georgia’s second-largest city, here are the best Kutaisi restaurants, cafes and bars to try.

Planning a trip? Check out my Georgia Travel Guide, Georgia itinerary & Georgia Armenia Azerbaijan itinerary.


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What to eat in Kutaisi: Imeretian cuisine

Before I give my recommendations for where to eat in Kutaisi, I first want to make some suggestions of what to eat in Kutaisi.

Kutaisi is the biggest city in western Georgia’s Imereti region, a part of the country known for its fresh produce and distinctive local cuisine.

You can find Georgian staples such as khinkali, ojakhuri and phkhali at most Kutaisi restaurants. I strongly suggest you give the following Imeretian specialty dishes a try as well.

  • Imeretian khachapuri: In this version of Georgia’s famous ‘cheese bread’, salty sulguni cheese is fully enveloped in thin dough. It’s round in shape, and a lot lighter than the Adjarian khachapuri you find in Batumi.
  • Imeretian cheese: Soft cow’s milk cheese is very popular in Imereti, and often featured on restaurant menus as part of a tasting board.
  • Tkemali: This tangy plum sauce is commonly served with meat and potato dishes all over Georgia. I particularly like the green plum tkemali found in Kutaisi.
A round Imeretian Khachapuri presented on a wooden board.
Imeretian khachapuri at Toma’s Wine Cellar.

What to drink in Kutaisi: Imeretian wine

After Kakheti, Imereti is Georgia’s second-biggest wine region. That means lots of local drops to sample at Kutaisi wine bars.

You can really taste the difference between wine produced in Imereti and wine from Kakheti. The climate in Imereti is much cooler and wetter than eastern Georgia, which makes growing certain types of grapes easier. Imeretian wine makers use different techniques, including less skin-contact time for their amber wines, which results in a lighter, fruitier taste.

Sparkling wine made from citrusy tsitska grapes and amber whites made from krakhuna grapes are popular in Imereti. Baia’s Wine, one of Georgia’s most popular export labels, is produced and bottled just outside of Kutaisi. You can find Baia’s Wine at most bars and restaurants, and even visit the vineyard for dinner and a wine tasting (more on that later).


Best Kutaisi restaurants for Georgian food

To start, here are my top recommendations for where to eat and drink Georgian cuisine in Kutaisi. Most of these venues serve at least a few Imeretian specialties, and all showcase delicious seasonal produce from the region.

Sisters

The light and bright dining room at Sisters Kutaisi, with wooden tables and chairs.
The interior at Sisters is my favourite in Kutaisi.

After being closed for over a year, my favourite Kutaisi restaurant re-opened in September 2021. The new address in a historic home on the park is even better than their first location. The entrance is a bit tricky to find: Look out for the blonde wood doorway then follow the stairs up to the second level.

The vintage decor and styling here is second to none and epitomises everything I love about Kutaisi. The owners have done a beautiful job of paying homage to the old building. Live piano music in the evenings only adds to the old-world ambiance.

The food, meanwhile, is a celebration of local produce and fresh ingredients. All the favourites are represented on the long menu – I personally love the Elarji (cheesy cornmeal) with ham. Local wines (including Baia’s Wine) are served.

  • Location: 33 Paliashvili Street
  • Hours: Daily from 12pm
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Lilestan

A wooden board heaped with Georgian food at a restaurant in Kutaisi.
The Imeretian Board at Lilestan.

Newly opened in 2020, Lilestan is a gorgeous bar-restaurant with a small open-air courtyard and a very cosy dining room. The food, service and decor here are all top-notch, making it a great choice for a special lunch or dinner.

The menu features a generous selection of Georgian dishes, Imeretian specialties and European options. The salad section is particularly impressive, with lots of interesting flavour combinations (including one of my favourites, fresh grape salad with chicken and walnut).

The real highlight is Lilestan’s selection of tasting boards – choose from Imeretian, Svanetian or Megrelian. Each one features hot and cold regional delicacies and is the perfect size for two.

At night, the fairy lights go on and Lilestan serves a nice range of house and local wines plus cocktails.

  • Location: 11 Tamar The Queen Street
  • Hours: Daily from 11am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Georgian Cuisine Magnolia

A blue balcony on a Kutaisi hotel overlooking the Rioni river.
Magnolia Hotel. The restaurant is located on the bottom level overlooking the river.

Not to be confused with the restaurant in Tskaltubo of the same name, this Magnolia is located on the lower level of Hotel Magnolia at the end of the Red Bridge. This is my top choice for good old fashioned Georgian fare in Kutaisi: Mtsvadi BBQ, stews and soups, khachapuri, and of course khinkali.

The dumplings with buffalo meat are divine (and not something I’ve encountered anywhere else in Kutaisi) – light, soupy and packed with flavour. In fact, everything I’ve eaten here is always top-notch in terms of flavour and freshness.

The location right on the river is unbeatable. Choose from a cosy indoor space with rock walls or – my preference – the outdoor balcony overlooking the Rioni. The cool breeze and roaring sound of the rapids make this my favourite outdoor dining venue in Kutaisi by far.

The ambiance and service here are both top-notch too. The Georgian folk music gives it a bit of a touristic feel, but personally I think it works. Prices are a touch higher than some other restaurants on this list but still very fair: Expect to pay 50-70 GEL for a generous meal for two people. Portion sizes are large.

  • Location: 2 Davit & Konstantine Mkeidze Street (end of Red Bridge)
  • Hours: Daily from 11am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Palaty

Palaty is a Kutaisi institution and a safe bet for quality Georgian food. It stood out as one of our favourite restaurants on our first trip to Georgia – and I’m pleased to report that two years later, the food here is just as good.

We’re tried just about everything on the menu. Standouts for me include the pelmeni (meat dumplings in a hearty broth, cooked and served in a clay pot that’s sealed on top with pastry); and the kuchmachi (heart and liver with walnuts and pomegranate). Khachapuri and pizzas are also popular. Palaty is also a wine bar and offers a well-rounded selection of local ambers and reds.

If you have a sweet tooth, Palaty’s pelamushi, a soft dessert made from condensed grape juice (a variation of the mix used to make churchkhela), is served with walnuts and colourful ribbons of tklapi (puree fruit roll-up).

A jelly-like dessert on a blue and white dish.
Georgian dessert at Palaty.

The upstairs dining room at Palaty is charming, but you should sit downstairs by the fireplace if you want to listen to the live piano, cello or violin performances that take place most nights. They also have a small courtyard dining space around the back.

This place is very popular so bookings are essential.

  • Location: Pushkini Street II
  • Hours: Daily from 10am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Toma’s Wine Cellar

A spread of wine, cheese, bread and salad on a table.
Toma’s Wine Cellar.

If you only have time to eat at one restaurant in Kutaisi, make it Toma’s.

This is what everyone comes to Georgia for: To experience local hospitality, food culture and supra, a traditional Georgian feast. You can eat at your family run guesthouse or hope to get invited to dinner by a local (actually not that uncommon). Or you can book a table at Toma’s place.

Located inside a house in a suburban part of the city, it doesn’t feel like a restaurant at all. When you arrive, Toma himself or a member of the family will greet you at the garden gate before giving you a short tour of the wine-making facilities in the basement. The family makes their own wine using grapes grown on a property 20km outside of Kutaisi.

There’s no menu at Toma’s. Dinner instead consists of a set four-course meal, served in one of two intimate cellar dining rooms. Toma is there to narrate every dish, explaining the different ingredients and cooking techniques.

Seasonal dishes are prepared by Toma’s mother and wife in the kitchen upstairs. Imeretian khachapuri is a mainstay. In summer, there will probably be a huge plate of jonjoli (pickled Colchis bladdernut, a flowering shrub found in western Georgia) and eggplant with walnut, plus one or two meat dishes, salad, bread, and a selection of local cheese.

Half a litre of house wine (or a jug of compote), plus chacha, is also included.

Toma’s is both small and popular, so it’s a good idea to make a booking in advance (just send Toma a Facebook message to reserve a table). The house is located on the other side of town, but a taxi from the centre shouldn’t cost more than 3-4 GEL. At the end of the night, Toma will happily call a taxi to take you home.

  • Location: Sergo Kldiashvili Street
  • Hours: Wednesday to Monday from 3pm (closed Tuesdays)
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Best international restaurants in Kutaisi

If you need a break from Georgian food, here are my favourite restaurants that serve international cuisine. Modern European is probably the best way to describe these menus (though you should also note that most serve Georgian cuisine as well).

I am yet to find a reliable Asian or Middle Eastern cafe in Kutaisi… Recommendations welcome!

Bar-Restaurant Papavero

Retro fittings and musical instruments inside Papavero restaurant in Kutaisi.
Cute things at Papavero Kutaisi.

Papavero is located in the centre of Kutaisi and is the only restaurant that’s open in the pedestrianised strip under the Mon Plasir arch. This is a crowd pleaser, with a huge menu of European-Italian dishes alongside Georgian fare.

I always order the Caesar salad here – it’s generously dressed and comes with bacon, chicken and delicious croutons. Their pumpkin soup is also very good. I highly rate the chicken schnitzel and the pizza too. The only thing I’m not too fond of are the arancini balls. I haven’t even attempted the long pasta menu yet.

A spread of food at a cafe in Kutaisi, including a Caesar salad and a jug of pink lemonade.
The Caesar Salad at Papavero is one of my summer go-tos.

You’ll have a difficult time deciding where to sit between the classic Kutaisi-style interior and the vine-laden courtyard.

Cocktails, Georgian wine and live music keep Papavero swinging until late, while nothing beats their strawberry kiwi lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

  • Location: 5 Tsisperi Kantselebi Street
  • Hours: Daily from 10am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Cafe Newport

Located inside the beautiful Newport Hotel, this restaurant serves both modern Georgian food and international staples. The Deco-style decor is really beautiful, with comfy booths that are big enough for 6 people.

Signature dishes include: Steak with a peppercorn crust and potato mash, schnitzel with potato salad (I think this is the only restaurant in Georgia where I’ve seen real mustard seeds in the sauce), and a top-notch club sandwich with crispy bacon and creamy aioli.

A plate of crumbed schnitzel on a white marble table.
The Schnitzel at Cafe Newport.

The Blue Bar inside the restaurant serves the best cocktails in Kutaisi. My pick is the Newport Sling with gin, bitters and crushed ice (pictured above).

  • Location: 1 Newport Street
  • Hours: Daily from 1pm
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Best Kutaisi restaurants for a quick bite

Here are my go-tos for an easy lunch or bite on the go.

Bikentia’s Kebabery

A simple plate of meat kebab, not something you can try at all Kutaisi restaurants.
Bikentia’s Kebabery.

If you’re after a budget-friendly and tasty meal, there’s no beating Bikentia’s. A Kutaisi institution that long predates the arrival of fine-dining tourists, this is a working man’s lunch spot. Eating here as an outsider is quite an experience!

There’s only one thing on the menu: Homemade beef kebab (the long, thin kind that’s cooked on a stick – not unlike Balkan cevapi) drenched in a punchy, fiery tomato sauce and topped with sliced raw onion and handfuls of fresh parsley. One serving costs around 7 GEL and includes two kebabs plus a big loaf of bread to soak up the sauce. There’s also beer on tap and a range of cold drinks at the counter.

The dining area is narrow and dimly lit. There’s no tables or chairs, just two rows of wall-mounted counters where you can perch for as long as it takes to scoff down your plate (not very long!). I’m told that this is a typical Soviet-style arrangement.

When you arrive, order at the counter, pay first and wait to collect your plates when they emerge from the kitchen cubby. Grab a fork from the counter, dry it off with a square of butcher’s paper and tuck in.

  • Location: 9 Tsisperi Kantselebi Street
  • Hours: 10am-9pm daily
  • Contact & info: Facebook

El Depot (Best Khinkali in Kutaisi)

A plate of steaming khinkali dumplings on a restaurant table, El Depot, serving the best khinkali in Kutaisi.
The best khinkali in Kutaisi at El Depot.

El Depot is rumoured to serve the best khinkali in Kutaisi – and I have to agree that the dumplings here are pretty good. The pork-beef filling is juicy and the dough just the right thickness. There’s a bit of a wait, so you know they’re cooked to order (and likely handmade). Veg-friendly potato and mushroom varieties are also available.

Their mtsvadi BBQ pork and chicken is another favourite of mine, served no-frills style with chopped onion and tangy plum Tkemali on the side. Pair those two things with Georgian bread, a simple salad and a draught beer, and El Depot is the best budget sit-down dining option in town by a long shot.

Because it’s not in the immediate city centre, many people tend to overlook El Depot and go for one of the restaurants near the fountain instead. Honestly it’s much better to walk over the White Bridge and eat here – the quality of food is much better, the service is always friendly and the local ambiance is much more pleasant (in my opinion).

Under normal circumstances, El Depot is open 24/7 so you can get your khinkali fix day or night. This place is so down to earth, they don’t even have a Facebook page. Call them to make a booking (recommended in the evenings).

  • Location: 10 Ioseb Grishashvili Street
  • Hours: 24/7
  • Contact & bookings: 0431 24 42 73

Best Kutaisi cafes for breakfast or coffee

If you need a quick breakfast or a caffeine stop during the day, here’s where to find the best coffee in Kutaisi and light morning meals. All of these places open relatively early.

Our Cafe

A cup of coffee sitting on a wooden table.
A cappuccino at Coffee Bean.

Our Cafe is centrally located on Tsminda Nino Street, just off the park, and has a few tables on the sidewalk out front plus bar seating inside. The Lavazza coffee here is some of best in Kutaisi. They also serve a selection of Georgian herbal teas, cakes and baklava.

There’s good WIFI, and staff don’t mind if you pull out your laptop. The official opening time is 9am but I often see staff serving take-away coffee earlier than that.

  • Location: Tsminda Nino Street (next to Luca Polare)
  • Hours: Daily from 9am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Tea House Foe-Foe

Brightly coloured walls and artworks decorate Tea House Fou-Fou in Kutaisi.
Tea House Foe-Foe.

One of the coolest interiors in Kutaisi, Tea House Foe-Foe is housed inside an old theatre building. Tables are scattered over rounded steps that lead up to a stage area where a few hammocks are strung. The prints are by Kutaisi-born Petre Otskheli, my favourite Georgian artist.

I’m told that ‘foe-foe’ is an expression coined in the 90s to describe bougie venues – the name is tongue-in-cheek but absolutely perfect for this space.

The coffee here is decent, but it’s the vast selection of teas that attract visitors. Iced and warm tea cocktails (Sicilian orange tea with Bacardi, green tea with mint and Bacardi, or black tea with red wine, orange and cinnamon) are perfect for after hours.

Tea House Foe-Foe also serves food. There’s a full lunch and dinner menu (the focus is on European dishes) plus waffles and pancakes. For an easy breakfast, I really like the French-style crepes, especially the cottage cheese and raisin filling.

  • Location: Shota Rustaveli Avenue
  • Hours: Daily from 9am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Cafe Fleur

An omelette and teacup.
Breakfast at Cafe Fleur.
  • Location: Tamar The Queen Street
  • Hours: Daily from 9am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Cafe Fleur is my top choice for breakfast in Kutaisi – mainly because it opens earlier than most other cafes at 9am. Choose from simple omelettes or shakshuka served with homemade bread, or delicious yogurt and fruit cups.

Coffee is good and staff here are very friendly. It’s especially nice to sit at one of the outdoor tables for breakfast and watch Kutaisi waking up.


Best Kutaisi wine bars

Where to drink Georgian wine in Kutaisi.

Satsnakheli Wine Bar

Wine at Kutaisi restaurants. A wine bottle and glass sitting on a table.
Satsnakheli Wine Bar.

Satsnakheli serves wine from all over Georgia, including a few noteworthy Imeretian cellars. Dimly lit and located underground, it’s a nice place to chill out on a warm summer evening. Live music usually starts up late, and there’s always a group of people at the bar chatting away. Every wall of this place is lined with bottles, which makes it feel like a true wine cellar.

Satsnakheli offers wine by the glass or by the bottle, plus bottles to take home. There’s also a light lunch/dinner menu including kebabs, which are grilled to order on a BBQ out the front. Their salty pork shashlik pairs perfectly with wine.

  • Location: 7 Nikitin Street
  • Hours: Daily from 11am
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Please note: Satsnakheli is temporarily closed.


Sapere

Sapere is a restaurant and wine bar known for its knowledgeable staff who can talk you through the ins and outs of Imeretian vino. They favour small family-run wine cellars and specialise in food-wine pairings (check out Sapere’s Facebook page for some colourful examples!).

The setting is spectacular: Sapere is located inside a grand old balconied Georgian house on the opposite side of the Rioni River to the Colchis Fountain (just across the White Bridge). If you’ve come to drink, the Georgian cheese platter and pikhali served on corn bread are the perfect accompaniments. Prices are a little higher here than at Satsnakheli.

  • Location: 18 Galaktion Tabidze Street
  • Hours: Daily from 2pm
  • Contact & info: Facebook

Baia’s Wine

A wooden plate heaped with chicken and surrounded by glasses of amber-coloured wine.
Dinner at Baia’s Wine outside Kutaisi.

Located in a small village 20 minutes outside Kutaisi, Baia’s Wine serves up some of the finest home-cooked food in all of Imereti. This award-winning winery welcomes walk-ins for lunch and dinner (booking essential). There’s also a guesthouse on the property.

If you have more than a day in Kutaisi, I highly recommend visiting Baia’s to sample incredible Imeretian cuisine and taste their organic amber wine.

Budget Georgia organises trips to Baia’s Wine. Their three-hour itinerary includes a guided tour of the vineyard and introduction to the wine-making process, hosted by Baia or another member of her family. Guests then enjoy a wine tasting and sit-down dinner prepared in the family kitchen by Baia’s mum.

If you’re curious to know what it’s like to visit Baia’s, here’s a little clip from our afternoon at the winery! You can read more about our visit to Baia’s in this post.


Kutaisi restaurant map

Click here to open & save the map.

Note that this map has some extra recommendations that I haven’t covered in the guide yet.


Best Kutaisi restaurants: Save it

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6 Comments

  1. Hey Emily – your blog has been vital to my Caucasian adventure, so thank you so much!

    Something to add to this article is that Sisters is unfortunately closed for business.

    1. Hi Nicholas, very glad to hear that! I actually live in Kutaisi now and have been meaning to update that… Thanks for the reminder.

      Hope you enjoyed your stay!

  2. Hi Emily,
    thank you so much for this post! We just came back from Toma’s wine cellar and we are still enchanted by this whole concept and Toma himself. We have travelled through Georgia for almost three weeks now and can now conclude that tonight we had the best food in Georgia so far. Thanks so much for this tip!
    We also tried Sisters, Cafe Fleur and Palaty and all of these were great too! Also the cappuccino at Fleur is just great and the portions are so big.
    Thank you also so much for your post about Tskaltubo, we have been there today and although most of the places are now closed for visitors (e.g. Iveria is closed) it still was worth visiting. It is acutally great for a stop over when visiting Prometheus cave as you have to change mashrutka in Tskaltubo anyways (take mashrutka 42 at the main bus station in Tskaltubo and it will bring you for 2 lari to the caves). Maybe this is worth mentioning in your post.
    Once again, thank you so much for your posts about Georgia, I loved all of them!

    1. Hi Karoline,

      I’m so glad to hear you got to eat at Toma’s! It was one of our most memorable meals, too!

      Thanks so much for the update about Tskaltubo. I will make mention of that!

      I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Georgia 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for these recommendations and a great blog overall! I’ve been following your Georgian adventures closely Emily and we’re due to visit from the 20th August. How do you book to stay at Baia? I seem to have trouble finding this information despite trawling the internet. Booking.com spits out nothing and their website doesn’t appear to have any information. Thanks in advance for your help! – From another fellow Aussie

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