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Many cultures have a national dumpling dish. In Georgia, that dish is known as khinkali. I enjoyed eating as many types of khinkali as possible in Tbilisi and even took a khinkali-making class. Here are my favorite spots for khinkali in Tbilisi, including traditional & modern restaurants, plus places where you can learn how to make it yourself.

What is Khinkali?

Khinkali are Georgian dumplings. They are often meat-filled, generally with lamb, beef, or pork. The filled center of meat khinkali also contains some broth, making them soup dumplings. Traditional fillings can vary by region.

There are two main types of meat khinkali in Georgia: mountain and city. The original variation, mountain-style khinkali, is known as khevsuruli. They contain minced meat, onions, and spices like chili pepper and cumin. City-style khinkali (called kalakuri) also include herbs such as parsley or coriander.

Other khinkali variations can be filled with cheese, mushrooms, potatoes, and, in the case of some creative restaurants, more.

How Do You Eat Khinkali?

Eating khinkali can be a little bit intimidating for newcomers. I’ll admit, I didn’t eat them correctly the first time I had them and got broth everywhere. They still tasted good, but here’s the proper way to eat khinkali.

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  1. Hold the khinkali upside-down by the twisted tail (called the kudi).
  2. Take a small bite of the main part of the khinkali, which will now be on top. This will 1) allow you to get to the goodness inside and 2) release any steam that might be present if the khinkali was just boiled.
  3. Slurp out the broth inside. You can also take some of the filling. The key is to make sure the broth doesn’t leak everywhere.
  4. Eat the rest of the main part of the dumpling.
  5. Leave the top knot on your plate. Some people do eat them, but it depends on your preference and the type of khinkali. A larger, denser tail will have some uncooked dough. If you leave those behind, it gives you more room for more khinkali.
  6. Repeat until you can’t possibly eat any more khinkali!

The Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

Cafe Daphna დაფნა

A lot of Tbilisi restaurants specialize in either khachapuri or khinkali, but Cafe Daphna is one that does both well.

In addition to khachapuri, we ordered three different types of khinkali. One of the nice things about Cafe Daphna is that, unlike most other khinkaki restaurants, you can order individually rather than getting a minimum number of each flavor. This lets you mix and match as many as you want.

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We had the beef, beef and pork with herbs, and the cheese and potato. All were excellent. The spices in the beef khinkali really shined, while the beef and pork mix had a nice, meaty flavor. The potato and cheese, served with butter, were nice and cheesy and reminded me of pierogi.

Address: Dry bridge, 29 Atoneli St, Tbilisi, Georgia (map)

Asi Khinkali

Asi Khinkali is another one of Tbilisi’s best-rated khinkali restaurants.

They offer a variety of flavors, each served with a minimum of 5 khinkali, except for the Dambalkhacho, which you can get just 3.

Dambalkhacho is a moldy cheese that’s famous in Georgia. Its strong flavor is not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of strong cheeses, you absolutely must try it.

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I had the classic along with the Dambalkhacho. The meat and broth in the classic really shined.

Pair these khinkali with their own Georgian craft beer (of which they have two lagers, one filtered, one unfiltered), and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal, which you can eat either on their ivy-fenced outdoor covered patio or in the downstairs dining room.

Address: 19 Ushangi Chkheidze Street, Tbilisi, Georgia (map)

The King & The Bird

The King & The Bird serves unique modern twists on khinkali – no pun intended – backed by an Oldies soundtrack.

We tried a few of their different khinkali creations, along with homemade lemonades and chacha cocktails.

The cheese and curd khinkali with pesto sauce, khinkali with Tashmijabi and sour cream sauce, and fried khinkali with beans, smoked ham, and coriander sauce were all excellent.

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The pesto was my favorite.

Address: 29 R, Revaz Tabukashvili St, Tbilisi, Georgia (map)

Shemomechama Old Tbilisi

Shemomechama Old Tbilisi is a no-frills restaurant serving Georgian classics. Its menu provides a good overview of the country’s best dishes, with everything from soups, khinkali, and khachapuri to sweets like orbeliani.

If you look in the kitchen window, you can see the fresh khinkali being made.

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Their mountain-style khinkali are nice and meaty.

Address: 9 Samghebro St, Tbilisi, Georgia (map)

Hinkali Factory

For a less traditional experience, head to Hinkali Factory. In addition to traditional khinkali, Hinkali Factory offers a wide variety of flavor options and cooking styles via its create-your-own options.

The menu includes boiled and pan-fried options along with several different fillings, including traditional and less traditional, such as Asian variations. There is a minimum of 5 per order, so bring some friends so you can try as many flavors as possible.

I recommend getting a cheese khinkali variation pan-fried. The butter pan-fried cheese with truffle was outstanding.

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They even offer sweet khinkali. The Nutella & sour cherry combination was a nice, rich way to end the meal.

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It’s also a good first place for newcomers, as there is a helpful “how to eat khinkali” graphic on the wall.

Address: 2 Pkhovi St T’bilisi, 0102, Georgia (map)

Khinkali Classes in Tbilisi

Once you’ve eaten khinkali in Tbilisi, you’ll want to know how you can get them back home. While the process seems intimidating, khinkali are actually not all that difficult to make. You can learn and practice your skills in a khinkali class.

Learn Georgian granny’s recipes

From that title alone on Airbnb Experiences, I was sold. Along with a few friends, I’d decided to take a khachapuri and khinkali cooking class, and this sounded like the perfect one.

We met Irinia outside her family’s place. She led us upstairs to her kitchen and introduced us to her cats. She’s been teaching Tbilisi visitors how to make khinkali and khachapuri for over six years. The class lasts about three hours.

Since it’s a more time-consuming process, we first made khinkali. We learned about the ingredients that go into the dough and the filling.

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We also learned how to properly fill and close the khinkali.

Then, we learned how to boil the khinkali, stirring to make sure they don’t stick together.

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Other khinkali cooking classes are also available in Tbilisi, including some at local restaurants. For more khinkali classes, check out these options.

Here are some other great Tbilisi tours & activities.

Need a place to stay? Check out these Tbilisi hotel options. I enjoyed my stay at the Moxy Tbilisi, and the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel is another excellent option.

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