‘Gamarjoba’ was the word I heard most often during my first days in Georgia, whether it was just a friendly greeting from a store clerk, or said with warmth when meeting a new friend. The Georgian word for ‘hello’ was everywhere. It was also the first thing I heard when walking into this homey, traditional Georgian restaurant set next to the emerald green hills outside Gori city center as I was guided to a table.

It was here I was introduced to the famous Khinkhali – Georgian meat dumplings, which were prepared perfectly and brought out steaming, diffusing the sunlight across my table and making my stomach rumble in preparation. Following my embarrassing attempt at eating them with a knife and fork, the waitress was kind enough (withholding her polite laughter) to demonstrate the Georgian way – and so I learned to pick it up by the top, turnit upside-down, bite it, drink the juice inside, and then finally eat all but the stump.

Other traditional dishes were offered, such as Khachapuri (a cheese and egg bread bomb), Lobiani (red beans in bread), and Churchkhela (a dessert in the form of walnuts coated in sweet grapey pulp). Red and white wines, made by the owner, were on the menu too.

It was a surprise when the waitress brought the bill out to me, because I thought it had been halved by mistake. For foreigners, this eatery is very underpriced. And as a European who felt out-of-place with the early starts of my busy culture, this restaurant welcomed me to the Georgian way of life.

By Tom Day

Open daily from 10 AM - 11 PM, you can find it on the Uplistsikhe Complex Road (Near Uplistsikhe), Gori.

TEL: (+995) 555 53 55 60