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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bar-hopping in Tbilisi

I used to complain that there is nothing to do in Tbilisi on a Friday night. That was era of endless-independent-film-watching.
I looked around the other day and discovered underground Tbilisi expansion. We’re no Berlin or NY, but still, things happen.
It’s Friday night and I have to choose between clubbing and bar-hopping. And that makes me exited.
So, if you decide to bar-hop in Georgia, let me share our favorite route which includes some newly-formed, informal bars.
1.       Warshawa  - a great place to start. It is located on the Freedom Square (Pushkin’s 19).  Menu includes 2 and 5 GEL drinks
You can hang around outside (people don’t smoke inside, yeah!), stay on a crowded first floor, or descend to a historical basement with long tables and benches. Basement serves wine only, so you’ll have to carry beer, drinks and food with you from the first floor down some pretty uncomfortable steps. Also, basement has no cell phone service.
Expect expats and young kids that don’t mind standing or sitting in the street.
2.   Walk toward old city hall, pass by the pretentious Tabidze, walk up Leonidze and turn left (Machabeli 2). The place has no sign, but you’ll see commotion outside. Arsad, located in the basement of former Lebanise restaurant (now just in the basement of nothing), Arsad (Nowhere in Georgian), used to be our favorite place to hang out about a year ago.  Expect shaggy, strange-haired youth here. It is also located in a historical basement and is usually pretty full on weekends. I love two warm design solutions here – Portrait of Shevardnadze that scared me to death last Halloween and writing on the bathroom mirror “Beware, the Chamber of secrets has been opened again”. By the way, the bathroom itself – yuck!
3.       Walk back to Freedom Square, down the Rustaveli Av. and discover “Reefer” (Rustaveli 28), another bar in the basement. Hipsters, dreadlocks. Concerts. Friendly management.
4.       Next stop – Canudos Ethnic Bar. Walk down the Rustaveli Av., until you reach McDonald’s, turn on Elbakidze, you’ll see a Samaia Park with hipster/i-like-dreds/ I-will-wear-Che-T-shirts crowd.  There was a time, when I absolutely loved this bar, it was one of the first ones to welcome different-minded crowd, but it is too mainstream for me now( I am aware of how pretentious that sounds)  I like the option of hanging outside, since bar is always crowded and you have to make your way through a unruly queue to get a drink.
5.       Walk  back to  Rustaveli, approach Wendy’s and eat something fatty. Or enter Smart and eat something fatty. The point is – after 4 bars you need to eat something fatty. (See my safe clubbing post).
6.       Continue walking on Rustaveli Av. and head left before you reach the Opera House. Walk down Lagidze street and turn left. Enter Dive bar (Lagidze 12). The crowd here is mostly friendly expats and young Georgians who have spent some time in Europe. It has two rooms, no floor and very underground feel. However, I just don’t find it cozy. Maybe the crowd is too young for me. Maybe the bar stand is too crowded. I don’t know.
7.       Now, take Tabukashvili street until you reach Tubo Partybar (Tabukashvili 14). I love this place. Blue walls, light fixtures made of red pipes, Ukrainians who opened it up. Sometimes there’s a DJ. It’s small, but not too many people know about it (they will now). Many expats from the Post-soviet space. Hubby has tasted variety of distilled house alcohol with no lethal results.
8.       Keep walking on Tabukashvili, until you reach the flower market on Kolmeureneoba. Here you climb the stairs to Pirimze (Atoneli 18) – There’s big policnica sing on the fisrt floor.. It is the quietest of all bars, but at this point you need to relax. Interesting artwork on the wall,  crowd discussing Sundance festival, old Singer sewing machines as a part of décor in an old, intelgentsia-styled apartment…you get the picture.  One of my favorite places on the route. Take advantage of a clean bathroom. Get some liquids. Check out the balcony.
9.       Next, you walk to Orbeliani street into second Ukrainian –owned bar, Absurd. It is located yet in another historic basement. It used to be a New Art Café, the space is pretty big and the crowd…you will not notice the crowd by this point. Barpeople are very friendly. They usually have pretty cool electronic music till 12, when they have to turn the volume down due to the neighbors. Used to be the only bar with no indoor smoking, but they had to allow it  - people used to smoke outside and annoy the neighbors.
10.   If you’ve started at 10 p.m. and moved pretty quickly, it’s probably 3-4 AM by now. But that’s OK because you have one last cool stop: the Drunk Owl (Samghebro’s 21). It is the newest bar on the block and pretty cool one. It has interesting décor (light fixtures made of bottles, owls of different sizes and shapes).  Bar’s mission is to introduce interesting drinks- also makes a good first stop, to appreciate pretty-colored cocktails before you are completely drunk. It is located right opposite the newly-built monastery, on the left right when you enter Abonotubani.
Happy drinking to you!
P.S. the pic: I stole it from their FB page, Absurd barpeople with lots of beer.
P.S. I've linked all the bar names with their fb pages, for your convenience. Because I am cool like that.


  1. Glad to see more bars opening up since I left Tbilisi. Looking forward to seeing them when I get back.

    And Dive has probably the oldest clientele of most of the places you mentioned! I stopped most of my hangings at Arsad, Salve (not mentioned here, not sure if it's open anymore anyway) and Canudos because of the young crowds. It's certainly not cozy, but that's mostly because of the concrete floor and the rickety, wood palate seating.

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  3. Great! Let me know how it goes- if things got better or worse