Khinkali is Georgia’s most famous food.
Hearty knot-topped parcels packed with tasty treats (traditionally meat, but sometimes also cheese, or mushrooms, or even potatoes), they maybe sort-of-originate from Mongolia…
… but let’s not get bogged down in all the history and heritage—cos, to be honest, when it comes to food, it seems like everyone just makes it up anyway.
Wherever they’re from, khinkali are traditionally more of an eastern-Georgian treat, and locals will tell you to head in that direction for the tastiest parcels. But you can still find plenty of good stuff in western stretches of the nation like in Kutaisi.
So in honor of that, we’ve brought you the best khinkali in Kutaisi. Expect laid-back joints, vaguely-fancier restaurants, vegan and vegetarian options, and a whole bunch of feast-worthy flavor. Yum yum!
This is the most well-known very-central restaurant in the city. Right beside the big Colchis Fountain (which sits in the middle of an inexplicably-big roundabout), it’s popular with pretty much everyone.
Here, you’ll find tourists, locals, families, solo-eaters, romantic couples, and everyone in between. So it’s a good spot for a reliable meal—no matter what you’re looking for, or who you’re eating with. It’s informal and big, and last time I was here, they were playing Spongebob on TV (so that’s nice if you’re traveling with children… or if you behave like one).
Some of the tastiest treats at Baraqa include the best eggplant with walnuts I’ve ever eaten (that’s a pretty popular side dish in Georgia), and the Adjarian khachapuri (that’s a big boat-shaped piece of bread, filled and topped with butter, cheese, and an egg).
But, obviously, you’re here to read about the khinkali (or you should be anyway, since you clicked on a guide called ‘best khinkali in Kutaisi’). Well, here’s some good news for you—the khinkali at Baraqa are really really nice. Moist, juicy, and flavor-filled, your taste buds will thank you for eating some. The meat ones are best.
Sitting right on the river, Magnolia is a cute and cozy purposely-rustic-style place, with friendly staff and wooden interiors. It’s also home to a load of creepy mannequins, who sit and watch you eat your dinner.
No, I’m not sure why either.
If you’re gonna eat khinkali here, you should get your mouth around their unique buffalo khinkali, which has a much meatier flavor than the standard stuff. I think they’re a bit too rich, almost like you’re tasting a smell—but maybe you’re into super-strong flavors. And, anyway, all of the khinkali here are good; not just the buffalo stuff*.
*Quick note: Magnolia don’t serve any non-meat khinkali.
Other good options at Magnolia include all the soups, all the kebabs, and the mtsvadi (that’s pork shashlik, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Georgian words with not many vowels).
Anyway, whatever you eat, Magnolia is a decent option for a sunny summer date—plonk yourself down at one of the outdoor riverside tables, and ramp up the charm-factor to 100.
3. El Depo – My #1 Recommendation
When you ask locals where to get the best khinkali in Kutaisi, they’ll pretty much always recommend this place. It’s known for specializing in hearty portions of the tasty treats.
Their khinkali is basic but tasty, and the atmosphere is informal but welcoming. This is how khinkali should be eaten—with no fuss, no frills, and no pretense, but massive chunks of drool-inducing flavor. It’s a bit too salty, but all Georgian food is a bit too salty.
Here, you can get two types of meat khinkali, along with potato khinkali, mushroom khinkali, and cheese khinkali. If you’re looking for a good range of different stuff, this is among the best you’ll find.
It’s super cheap—the non-meat options clock in at under 1 lari each, and the meat options aren’t much more expensive. You won’t find those prices at many other places in the city.
Oh, and get this: El Depo is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So if you get some insatiable urge to munch on khinkali at 3am on a Tuesday morning, these guys have got your back. But if you go on a weekend, don’t be surprised if it’s completely full—it’s a really popular place.
Overall, this is the #1 place I recommend. If you’re only gonna eat khinkali in one place in Kutaisi, make it El Depo.
4. El Paso
This place is owned and operated by the same people who manage El Depo.
(I‘m not sure what the sort-of-Spanish names are about, considering they exclusively serve Georgian food.)
Anyway, the menu here is exactly the same as El Depo, the food here is (and tastes) exactly the same as El Depo, and the decor is slightly more upmarket (but it still feels more like a cafe than a restaurant). The only downfall is that, because it’s not so busy, the atmosphere is a bit less infectious.
The staff are a bit friendlier here, but that’s hardly difficult compared to the frownfest of El Depo.
Because this place is much less popular than its khinkali cousin, there’s never a queue to enter—and you never need to make a reservation. If you’re eating on a weekend, I recommend coming here instead of going to El Depo.
5. Saxinkle Palmebi
If you’re looking for really informal, this is the place for you.
Saxinkle Palmebi doesn’t really feel like a restaurant. Instead, it feels like a school canteen or a work canteen or something…
… but these are the types of places I like best—why do most restaurants like to pretend we’re doing something more noble and important than just chewing up some food that we’ll be plopping out 12 hours later?
Anyway, the khachapuris here are great, the barbecued meats are nice, and the meat khinkali (they only serve meat khinkali) is pretty good too. Everything is cheap—you can get a good meal for around 20 lari per person.
All in all, this isn’t necessarily the best khinkali in Kutaisi. But it’s the best khinkali-from-a-basic-place in Kutaisi.
Side note though: the food here is stupidly salty. One of my least favorite things about Georgia is how loads of the chefs seem determined to scorch the skin off your mouth by throwing a kilo of salt into every meal. And here, it’s worse than most places. But if you can handle uber-salty food, you’ll love it.
I’m not really sure why, but Kutaisi has two separate German-themed restaurants serving up German drinks with Georgian food (the second is coming up next).
Of the two, Hacker-Pschorr is the most popular —and some local people will tell you these guys churn out the best khinkali in Kutaisi. They definitely have one of the biggest ranges in the city—offering meat khinkali, mushroom khinkali, cheese khinkali, potato khinkali, and even some of their own specialities.
Other offerings include sandwiches, pizza, pasta, schnitzel, pork ribs, and a grilled sausage board. The interiors are classy and clean, but the place still feels quite informal. If you want a ‘nice’ affordable restaurant for eating with friends, Hacker-Pschorr is a great choice.
7. Beer Museum (formerly Known As HB)
The second of those two German places… and on the same street as Hacker-Pschorr (this street is a pretty popular hangout, with loads of places to eat and drink).
I prefer this place to Hacker-Pschorr: it’s themed in a non-corny way, and has the vibe of a Bavarian beer hall. The interiors make you feel like you’re eating in some tiny German town, and they always play crowd-pleasing pop music.
They offer two types of meat khinkali, and they also serve up cheese khinkali, potato khinkali, and mushroom khinkali. The rest of the menu is pretty similar to Hacker-Pschorr, with German-themed food, a range of international classics, and loads of Georgian breads.
Other than munching on khinkali, I recommend the mushroom soup, the kubdari (that’s a bread-based meat pie; it’s greasy but it’s tasty), and the steak salad.
Hoegaarden is pretty similar to both Hacker-Pschorr and HB, with a menu made up of Georgian classics, European pub-style food, and generic stuff like pizzas and fries. The only real difference is that the drinks here are Belgian, not German.
Right in the center of the city, they offer five types of khinkali: potato, cheese, mushroom, and two types of meat. The khinkali is nothing hyper-special, but it’s pretty good and pretty affordable—and you’ll always see locals eating heaps of the stuff.
I also recommend the pizzas (they’re the best pizzas in the city), any of the salads, the pork medallions, and the chicken soup.
Inside, the restaurant is a cozy combo between laid-back and inviting—and they have a few outdoor tables when the weather’s good. In terms of decor, it’s a bit more informal than Beer Museum and Hacker-Pschorr, but the atmosphere is pretty similar.
If you like football, get your eyes around this: Hoegaarden is the city’s top spot for watching some of the stuff (I’m talking about the sport some people incorrectly call ‘soccer,’ by the way). They’ll play any local (or international) game you like. I know watching football in a restaurant isn’t as exciting as watching it in a pub, but it’s the most reliable option I know of.
Before You Go
So, there you go—the top eateries for finding the best khinkali in Kutaisi!
Again, El Depo and El Paso are my top recommendations—so get yourself to one of them, and chow down on a big fat plate of the stuff.
For more info on adventuring around the third-biggest city in Georgia, get yourself over to our guides on the best restaurants in the city and the best tours in the city. Oh, and here’s our guide to the best khinkali in Tbilisi.
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