Winter is slowly creeping up on the Georgian capital, which means you can’t really hang around outside all day enjoying the weather. If you’re tough enough, have a bit of cash and find drinking at home boring, bar-hopping is certainly not a bad way to pass the time!
Chatting about the city’s bar scene, a fellow expat and I came up with the idea of putting together an A-Z guide of bars in Tbilisi. While the following list is an abbreviated version of the original guide, it includes a selection of the city’s best and most affordable places for a drink-and-go night. Almost all of the bars are conveniently located in the city centre, and I’ve even suggested a couple of possible routes so you can move (or stumble) in one direction. Let’s get started with the letter A!
Photo credit: Absurd Bar
Staying somewhere around Liberty Square or the House of Justice? Great! Head directly to Orbeliani Street and enjoy your first drink at Absurd – a small Ukrainian-owned dive bar with laughably low prices.
Now, let’s jump ahead to the letter P. From Absurd, go to the nearby Flower Market and enter the old house next to it. On the third floor you’ll find a nice retro bar called Pirimze. For me, it feels like a time machine back to the 60s or 70s.
Walk a couple of streets up to find Tubo Party Bar on Tabukashvili Street. It’s another Ukrainian-owned place (I’m not a lobbyist, I swear!) with tasty nalivka (berry liqueur) shots, fairly priced beer, small snacks and an unexpectedly large space downstairs. Try not to get too comfy – your next stop is calling!
Photo credit: Tubo Party bar
Let’s rewind back to the letter D. Dive Bar is a legendary local drinking spot known for its beer pong competitions, good Polish vodka and consistently loud and friendly crowd. I hope you tried nalivka at Tubo, because now it’s time for a shot of zubrowka (herbal vodka) or zoladkowa (another herbal vodka)…
Survived? Great! The next stop is another legendary local bar – Canudos Ethnic Bar. Sometimes it’s really messy, which is what makes it so cool. Down another beer or chacha (Georgian brandy) or whatever, and have a chat with the customers – they’re all friendly.
Congratulations – you’ve just completed the first bar-hopping route! It was quite easy, yes? Now, if you really want to live like a local, head to Khinklis Sakhli (“Khinkali House”) on Rustaveli Avenue near the underground. Many locals end their nights drinking here. Khinkali (Georgian dumplings) or any Georgian soup will make you feel a bit better. Maybe…
This route starts at W. Don’t worry about the logic – you’re in Tbilisi after all! So, you’re somewhere around Liberty Square. Walk down Pushkin Street for a while to find a small bar called Warszawa, designed according to the best example of a Polish shot bar. Here you can enjoy a drink for 2 lari (less than €1), some Polish food for 5 lari (less than €3) and a shot of zoladkowa or the amazing and tricky chachacello. You’re now ready to proceed further, I think.
Photo credit: Bar Warszawa
From here you can either take route #1, or return to Liberty Square, cross the street and head up Dadiani Street to U Bar – a dark and small place with cheap drinks. Local musicians (minimal and electronic) and DJs often perform at this bar.
Ready? Okay, now cross Dadiani Street and walk along Lermontov Street until you reach Gudiashvili Square, which has a statue of a kissing couple in the middle. Take Abo Tbileli Street on the opposite side of the square and walk 30 metres to find Bauhaus – another small bar where you can eat and drink for a fair price. They sometimes have live electronic music, and occasionally organise cool cooking and cultural events. Never mind that for now though, down your drink and move on to the next stop of the tour!
Just a five-minute walk from Bauhaus (here’s a map in case it’s dark or you’re already a bit drunk) there’s a nice French-Georgian bar called Zoestan serving simple and tasty food and standard drinks. They regularly host great concerts, some of which are spontaneous. It’s important to note that sometimes there’s no mobile reception here, which forces customers to talk to each other. Such a wondrous thing!
Photo credit: Zoestan
From Zoestan, head to Leselidze Street (the big one), cross it, walk a couple of metres further and enter the yard with the Moulin Electrique sign above it. I really like this bar, so while you’re here, have a sip of something tasty for me as well.
After Moulin, take a short walk in the direction of Meidani Square. If you can still see Vakhtang Gorgasali on his horse, keep walking until you find a bar called the Drunk Owl – the last stop of the night. They have a great selection of cocktails and other mixed drinks for you to enjoy.
Photo credit: Drunk Owl
At the end of this tour, I suggest you head to 24/7 Samikitno/Machakhela on Meidani Square for some early-morning khinkali. It’s the most mainstream place for Georgian dumplings, but if you need something to eat at 4–5 am, it’s the best choice.
By the way, a great way to recover from a night of intensive drinking is to spend some time at the sulphur baths. I hope you enjoy your time in in Tbilisi!
Special tip: For a more authentic Tbilisi experience, get the Like A Local mobile app
Opening photo: Bauhaus
About the author: Living by the motto “have love, will travel”, Ukrainian-born Daria moved to Tbilisi after falling head over heels for the city when visiting friends. She enjoys both the feelings of wanderlust and homesickness, and tries to keep them balanced.