Vegan travels: eating Mexican food in the South Caucasus! »
I’ve been living in the Kakheti region of (the country of) Georgia since late February of this year, and though there’s plenty to eat, it’s rarely “foreign” and it’s never explicitly vegan. Well, once I walked by a gelato place in Tbilisi whose sign said (in English) “Coming soon, vegan ice cream!” but that was in March and I haven’t been able to check it out since.
Some of my friends had spoken of a Mexican restaurant in Sighnaghi (სიღნაღი)* called Pancho Villa, saying that not only was it good, it had vegetarian options, as in “fake meat in your burrito” vegetarian options, so of course I had to go. For Vegansaurus, and for myself.
Sighnaghi is the City of Love, for reasons unexplained by the country of Georgia. It is also really small and cute and on a bunch of hills with terrible cobblestone-esque streets that trip you like they were designed to cause maximum ankle damage.
I was not feeling much like beans when we went, so I ordered the “fajitas,” and also a margarita despite its being super-expensive because you know who loves tequila? ME.
It came with a basket of fresh warm tortillas! And tasted a little bit like really Americanized Chinese food! Which was weird! Like, there was no cumin or chili powder or anything in the spice mix, mostly a lot of hot pepper flakes, and the nationally mandated gallon of oil. But you know what? Still good. I wanted it to be better, but after four months without a single soy product, it made me happy.
The restaurant is pretty adorable, too; painted up all “Mexican” with blankets and sombreros and (prints of) photos of Pancho Villa on the walls. The view was typically spectacular. Maybe my experience was soured by the 90 minutes I spent smashed into the back of a taxi to get there. Georgia is a small country, but because the public transportation is almost all minibuses and taxis, getting places can be a serious hassle and take a really long time. It’s smaller in theory. I miss home.
My gorgeous, delicious, lemony margarita. The rim of the glass was salted and spiced!
If you ever find yourself in Georgia—let me know if you’d like to! I’m helpful!—and you’re tired of potatoes and bread and vegetables called like tchintchris (nettles) or jonjoli (pickled elderberry leaves? I will eat any vegetable)—because every vegetable wears out its welcome, let me tell you—maybe go to Pancho Villa and eat some vegan Georgian Mexican. Sighnaghi is adorable, anyway.
*I know another alphabet! Those “gh”s are pronounced like “rh.”