Two years ago Tel Avivians were shocked to find out that one of their favorite night spots, Georgian restaurant Nanuchka, had turned vegan. Nanuchka is still beloved, but Georgian cuisine lovers who crave meat or cheese, will be happy to hear about these three newcomers to Tel Aviv’s ever-growing Georgian cuisine scene.
Supra, meaning “feast” in Georgian, is a recently opened bistro-bar that specializes in cuisine from Georgia and elsewhere in the Caucasus region. Before it opened, Mickey Mirel, one of the Supra’s owners, told me he intends for his restaurant to live up to its namesake through its atmosphere. He said, “Supra is going to have colorful and great Georgian food, plenty of alcohol, music, and warm hospitality.”
Another newcomer is Racha, named after a highland area in western Georgia where the restaurateurs’ are from. After operating for nearly five years in Jerusalem, the original Racha closed in order to move to a much bigger location—big enough to house a bar and VIP area—Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv’s hip and expensive historic neighborhood. The kosher menu will include meat, stews, pastries, salads and more, boasting everything from chanakhi (a traditional Georgian dish of lamb stew with tomatoes, aubergine, and potatoes) to ispanakhi (a kind of spinach and walnut tapenade), and plenty of Chacha, a Georgian brandy.
Racha owner Lili Ben Shalom told me she wants Racha to resemble a blend of Georgian comfort food with a non-stop Georgian party atmosphere. “Israelis started travelling to Georgia and experiencing the food, the scenery and the simplicity, and this authenticity does something to them,” she said, alluding to the fact that Israelis now don’t need a visa to travel to Georgia. Racha opens in mid-February.
Unsurprisingly, one of the first stalls to open at Sarona Market, a large indoor culinary market, which opened last July in Tel Aviv, was Hachapuri House, the fifth branch of a Georgian chain that started about seven years ago with Deda, which opened in Givatayim, just east of Tel Aviv. In addition to the cheese-filled bread it’s named after, Hachapuri House offers hinkali (dumplings), chebureki (which have been referred to in the U.S. as “the Georgian empanada”); salads, like beetroot, eggplant, and walnut Pkhali; meat dishes like Plov (the Georgian Pilaf), and more.
Shiri Katz, a food writer for Time Out Tel Aviv, told me that a Georgian feast brings with it a feeling of spiritual elevation and a kind of human connection. So the next time you’re in Tel Aviv, be sure to check out these restaurants, and let the Chacha flow.
Dana Kessler has written for Maariv, Haaretz, Yediot Aharonot, and other Israeli publications. She is based in Tel Aviv.