Despite a small Georgian community, Budapest can boast of two Georgian restaurants. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the varied cuisine of this Caucasian country, Aragvi, named after a Georgian river, is a good place to start. Due to its geographic location, Georgian cuisine reflects Persian, Turkish, and Levantine influences. In general, brace yourself for a vegetarian-friendly menu featuring a sea of herbs (parsley, coriander, tarragon, dill, mint), vegetables (eggplants, spinach, beets), walnut paste, and pomegranate seeds.
There’s good reason why khachapuri Adjaruli has become the best-known export of Georgian cuisine - the crispy and doughy, boat-shaped bread enclosing a tangy mush of melted cheese topped with a just-cracked egg is delicious (for €5). If you like Chinese soup dumplings, go for its Georgian, herbier sister, the pork and beef-filled khinkalis. I also enjoyed the kharcho soup (€3) at Aragvi, a reviving and spicy dish with cubes of tender brisket and a mound of coriander. For three people or more, try the shkmeruli (€12), a pressed roast chicken sautéed in a milk and garlic-based sauce. It’s served sizzling in a terracotta skillet.
25 types of the famed Georgian wines are also available at Aragvi, as are lemonades imported from Georgia (try the bright-green colored tarragon flavor). Don't be surprised if you find a jovial dinner banquet celebration with copious amounts of food and alcohol at the neighboring tables - Aragvi occasionally hosts traditional Georgian supra festivities.
Aragvi’s self-righteous and formal service staff evoked in me memories of the ‘90s Budapest restaurant scene with part nostalgia, part relief that’s it’s now past us. Aragvi is located in Buda, reachable from downtown Pest by public transport within 20 minutes.