The Ultimate Guide to Georgian Food in NYC

In the past decade, New York City has become an international hotspot for Georgian cuisine

June 11, 2024 7:26 am
X Factory's signature kebab, featuring beef and pork wrapped in a thin layer of bread and topped with onion, pomegranate and cilantro
X Factory's signature kebab, featuring beef and pork wrapped in a thin layer of bread and topped with onion, pomegranate and cilantro.
Courtesy of X Factory

New York City now has roughly two dozen Georgian restaurants and bakeries. While you’ll find the highest concentration in Brooklyn neighborhoods with convenient access to the Belt Parkway, Manhattan now has options from downtown to the Upper East and Upper West Sides. There’s even a Glatt kosher spot in Queens. 

All of this means that New Yorkers now have some variety when it comes to where to eat Georgian food and what to order. While hearty entry-level dishes like khachapuri (cheese-stuffed bread) and khinkali (the large Georgian soup dumplings) are what you’ll find on seemingly every table no matter which spot you choose, there are dozens of other soups, stews, kebabs and desserts waiting to be discovered. 

Here are 10 must-try Georgian restaurants in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. 

Alubali's guruli pie features sulguni cheese, an iconic staple of Georgian cuisine
Alubali’s guruli pie features sulguni cheese, an iconic staple of Georgian cuisine.
Courtesy of Alubali Georgian Cafe & Bakery

Alubali Georgian Cafe & Bakery

Located just a few blocks south of the Belt Parkway, which marks the border between Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, Alubali is an intimate spot where you can’t go wrong with anything bread. It opens at 10 a.m., an hour before most restaurants start serving lunch, and closes at 11:30 p.m., a couple of hours after most close, making this a popular spot for people in the food business.

The guruli pie is a good place to start. The hard-boiled egg mixed in with sulguni cheese makes it an ideal breakfast item. Mushrooms are an essential part of Georgian cooking, making the mushroom pie one of the must-try baked items. It goes without saying that khinkali (dumplings) are popular. If you want to try the beef and pork mix inside fresh bread, kubdari is the way to go. 

3078 Coney Island Ave

The front face and patio seating area of ASSAIA in Brooklyn's Bath Beach
The facade of Assaia in Brooklyn’s Bath Beach.
Courtesy of ASSAIA

Assaia Restaurant Club & Lounge

If Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay are 1A in terms of where to find reasonably priced Georgian food, Bath Beach is becoming 1B. Assaia has three different dining areas, each a different experience. The third and newest is the outdoor patio, where drinks, including Georgian wine and Turkish coffee, are just as important as the food. 

When it comes to Georgia’s signature dumplings, Assaia has the best variety, including drunken, which are the equivalent of chakapuli (a popular Georgian meat stew with tarragon and white wine) inside of a baseball-sized soup dumpling. They also have a shrimp dumpling, which no other NYC Georgian restaurant has tried yet. 

2158 Bath Ave

Chama Mama servers wear shirts which read 'gamarjoba,' meaning hello. Franchise  memorabilia is available at the original Chelsea location.
Chama Mama staff wear shirts which read “gamarjoba,” meaning “hello.” Merch is available at the original Chelsea location.
Courtesy of Chama Mama

Chama Mama

With three locations, all conveniently located off the 1/2/3 line in some of Brooklyn and Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods, Chama Mama has a festive vibe that’s part of a growing brand. Servers wear shirts that bear the Georgian phrase “gamarjoba,” which means “hello.” You can buy Chama Mama merch at the original (and largest) Chelsea location. All three locations have the Georgian alphabet visible on the walls. 

The menu items will be recognizable to anyone familiar with this cuisine, but this is the kind of place where you’ll find nuance in many of the common dishes. For example, the beef kharcho soup has barley instead of the usual white rice. The mushroom tarragon soup is one of the many vegetarian items on the menu — if you’re on a plant-based diet, Chama Mama is an ideal introduction to Georgian food.

The jello-like pelamushi dessert is another classic with a slight twist: the Chama Mama version uses both the traditional purple grapes and white, making it appear layered. This light dessert is an ideal way to end a Georgian meal, as the savory dishes tend to be on the heavier side. 

149 W 14th St, 373 Amsterdam Ave, 121 Montague St

Chito Gvrito's must-tries include stuffed duck rolls wrapped in green chard and shilaplavi (lamb risotto).
Chito Gvrito’s essentials include stuffed duck rolls wrapped in green chard and shilaplavi (lamb risotto).
Courtesy of Chito Gvrito

Chito Gvrito

Chito Gvrito is one of four Georgian restaurants located on Manhattan’s East Side. Most of the items on the two-sided menu will be familiar to anyone who has had a few Georgian dining experiences. But there are several exceptions, including the stuffed duck rolls wrapped in green chard, and shilaplavi, which is a lamb risotto with ingredients like tarragon and smoked sulguni cheese. Speaking of cheese, here, you can get the popular khachapuri baked on a skewer with a spicy ajika oil. And if you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional meat-stuffed khinkali, Chito Gvrito has khveri, which come stuffed with cheese and served in a crème fraîche sauce.

The wine menu is mostly (but not exclusively) Georgian, while the cocktails are infused with herbs that you’ll find in many of the savory dishes, like tarragon, cilantro and opal basil. For dessert, try the Zesty Drunken Almond Cake, which is finished with a Georgian brandy sauce.

173 3rd Ave

Georgia is an intimate dining experience operated by a mother and daughter from Tbilisi.
Georgia is an intimate dining experience operated by a mother and daughter from Tbilisi.
Courtesy of Georgia

Georgia 

The deeper you go into Brooklyn, the more Georgian food you’ll find. Georgia is a small, intimate spot run by a mother and daughter from Tbilisi. Everything on the menu is $20 and under. 

In addition to the popular four-cheese khinkali, Institute of Culinary Education graduate Maia Ninoshvili’s Georgian salad and adjaruli are popular here. The latter is the Georgian cheese boat topped with a raw egg that floats around like an inflatable raft on a lake. The salad comes in three different versions; get the one topped with walnut sauce. All three are dusted with salt from the Georgian mountains. 

1926 Bath Ave

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Marani is New York's only Glatt Kosher Georgian restaurant.
Marani is New York’s only Glatt kosher Georgian restaurant.
Courtesy of Marani

Marani

The only Georgian restaurant in Queens is also the only Glatt kosher one in the five boroughs. Even the wine is kosher. Georgian for “wine cellar,” Marani has a primarily kosher clientele but is also ideal for anyone looking to avoid pork or dairy in general. Here, you can give khachapuri a rest and try dishes like adjaruli and chashushuli. The adjaruli at Marani is a mushroom pie with beef mixed in, served with a raw egg that melts into the mix, giving the bottom crust a slight moistness. Ajika is also mixed in, while paprika is sprinkled on top. 

Chashushuli is a slightly spicy Georgian beef stew served in a clay pot with bread baked onto the top. You can break into the top layer with a spoon to get to the tender beef, which also falls apart with the same utensil. 

Marani is one of the few Georgian restaurants that serves pelmeni (bite-sized Russian dumplings). Here, they are deep-fried and served with a cold tomato, garlic and cilantro sauce.

97-26 63rd Rd

Mealz offers a combination of authentic Georgian dishes and American classics for hard-to-please family members.
Mealz offers a combination of authentic Georgian dishes and American classics for hard-to-please family members.
Courtesy of Mealz Cafe

Mealz

Oda House left a void in the East Village when they moved to the Upper East Side. Fortunately, in late 2023, Mealz filled it with a small and super-casual spot just off the avenue that Joey Ramone once sang about eating chicken vindaloo on. At Mealz, you can instead enjoy chicken tabaka, which is served in a walnut sauce and topped with microgreens. Walnuts are common in Georgian dishes, both savory and sweet. Similar in appearance and equally worth trying is the shkmeruli, which is a popular roasted chicken dish served in a creamy garlic sauce. 

While seasoned diners should be coming here for the Georgian dishes, Mealz is also the ideal place to bring your hard-to-please family members who might be on the fence about trying a new cuisine that hasn’t yet reached mainstream status. For every classic Georgian dish, you can find burgers, wraps and even breakfast items. But don’t worry, Mealz is owned and run by Georgians. Speaking of breakfast, this the only Georgian spot in Manhattan that’s open before 11 a.m. during the week.

245 E 14th St

Oda House introduced Georgian food to Manhattan a decade ago. The House Special is a baked salmon dish heavy on sour cream and cheese and with a balsamic drizzle.
Oda House introduced Georgian food to Manhattan a decade ago. Today, it stands as the pinnacle of Georgian cuisine in the city.
Courtesy of Oda House

Oda House

Named after a type of wooden mountain home common in Georgia, Oda House introduced Georgian food to Manhattan a decade ago. Although no longer in Alphabet City, there are now two locations: one on the Upper East Side and another in Sheepshead Bay. Both can seat more than 100.

Owner and head chef Maia Acquaviva started cooking in her native Tbilisi at the age of seven after watching both of her grandmothers in the kitchen. Meat is omnipresent on all Georgian menus, but the Oda House Special is a baked salmon dish heavy on sour cream and cheese and topped with a balsamic drizzle. Speaking of cheese, the Oda Special Zhulien Khinkali are stuffed with cheese, mushrooms and sour cream, resulting in less of a soup dumpling and more of a densely packed combo that works beautifully. 

Desserts rotate in and out. Any given week, three of the nine will be available. The four-layer ideali topped with whole walnuts is the most Georgian of the options. There’s also her namesake Maya’s cake, which is topped with homemade chocolate. 

406 E 73rd St, 2027 Emmons Ave

X Factory's speciality is a version of chakapuli (meat stew) served with tender veal.
X Factory’s speciality is a version of chakapuli (meat stew) served with tender veal.
Courtesy of X Factory

X Factory

The name X Factory is certainly not a dead giveaway that this is the go-to spot for Georgian food in Midwood. The owner, a Gori native who goes by Alex, prefers the chaqaful (more commonly spelled chakapuli). The X Factory version of this meat stew is served with tender veal and the house bread that comes with all entrees. 

Kebabs and Turkish coffee are influences from Georgia’s neighbor to the southwest. X Factory has the Georgian version of the former, which comes wrapped in a thin layer of bread and topped with onion, pomegranate and chopped cilantro. The cold tomato sauce on the side is meant to be poured over. The most popular version has pork mixed in with the beef to make it juicier. 

Like most Georgian restaurants, X Factory has live entertainment. But whereas others tend to only offer it on weekends, here, you can enjoy live music every night except Monday, when X Factory is closed. 

1105 Quentin Rd

Georgian movie posters and language tips adorn the walls of Brooklyn's 18th Ave Cafe G.
Georgian movie posters and language tips adorn the walls of Brooklyn’s 18th Ave Cafe G.
Courtesy of 18th Ave Cafe G

18th Ave Cafe G

Located off the 18th Ave D train stop where Bensonhurst meets Bath Beach, 18th Ave Cafe G was recently renovated with some updates to the menu and patio dining coming soon. Georgian movie posters still adorn the dining rooms wall and owner Maya Tsulaia has also added a written crash course in the Georgian language to the window that faces the nearby subway station.

Inside, you’ll see large white bowls of fittingly large black pepper-dusted khinkali on many tables, often with imeruli and other khachapuri. If you are looking for a different presentation of the salty Georgian cheese, try the penovani, which is a stuffed flaky puff pastry served warm.

Georgian kebabs are omnipresent on many menus but tend to take a back seat to dumplings, bread and cheese. The chicken mtsvadi are crispy on the outside without any breading and served with a cold tomato sauce, which, like everything else on the menu, is made in house. 

Maya’s dense 12-layer honey cake is worth the trip deep into Brooklyn. If you don’t have room for dessert, get at least one to go.

8611 18th Ave

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