If you’re looking to dip your toe into the varied cuisine of Georgia in Budapest, 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, so brace yourself for 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—it's a wonderfully crispy and doughy boat-shaped bread enclosing a tangy mush of melted cheese topped with a just-cracked egg (€5). If you like Chinese soup dumplings, go for their Georgian sisters, the herb-infused pork and beef-filled khinkalis. I also enjoyed Aragvi's kharcho soup (€3), a reviving and spicy broth with cubes of tender brisket and a mound of coriander. For three people or more, order the shkmeruli (€12), a pressed roast chicken sautéed in a milk and garlic sauce. It’s served sizzling in a terracotta skillet.
25 types of the famed Georgian wines are also available, as are Georgian lemonades (try the bright-green colored with a tarragon flavor). Aragvi occasionally hosts traditional Georgian supra festivities, so don't be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of lively dinner banquet celebration with copious amounts of food and alcohol. Aragvi’s self-righteous and formal service staff evoked in me memories of the ‘90s with part nostalgia, part relief that’s it’s now past us. The restaurant is located in Buda, reachable from downtown Pest by public transport within 20 minutes.