So I finally made it back to the Elvis American Diner that I first reviewed in my post “American food in Tbilisi.” As my new school is directly across the street from the place, I decided to try their burger for lunch on Friday.
I don’t know that it’s actually the best burger in Tbilisi – the Bavarian Brauhaus burger certainly gives it a run for its money – but it’s certainly very good. It also starts at about 7 or 8 lari (and you can get extras like bacon and cheese, etc.) so it’s competitive with other authentic-ish American food in the city. Anyway, I got the burger with fries and a soft drink for 11.5 lari.
Fast-forward to Saturday night. Some friends and I were hanging out downtown and wanted to go eat. After scoping out the foreign spots on and around Perovskaya, we decided to just go for burgers at Elvis. We went upstairs to discover that the upper level actually has table service. We proceeded to have what can only be described as the perfect vintage diner experience, with upgrades.
We all got chicken sandwiches (I didn’t want to have the burger two days in a row!) and while my friends got sodas, I got a cappucino that was absolutely delicious. They use Lavazza coffee, which is the kind my good friend John used to serve at the cafe he ran in the theatre that I used to work for. Then I decided to go for a chocolate shake – and oh my god, it was absolutely heavenly. It had this deep, rich chocolate flavor – none of the cheap airy Frosty or McDonald’s shake flavor. Everything about this shake was just perfect and amazing. My friends tried it and agreed. The cappucino was 4.50 and the shake was 5 lari.
Then something spectacular happened. We were sitting around, finishing up our dinner and having all sorts of interesting conversations, when the musicians started to play. Live music in Georgia is sometimes incredibly loud and overbearing – basically, if you go to a Georgian restaurant on a night with live music, they play it so loud that it is absolutely impossible to hold a conversation, even with a person who is literally right next to you. But these guys played at a good volume. And they were also incredibly good.
Their guitar work was fantastic. One guy played a keyboard, then a guitar, and had a voice like Elton John’s. The other guy stayed on guitar. When the two were playing guitar together it was absolutely fantastic. They played American classics – the Beatles, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jerry Lee Lewis, CCR, Pink Floyd, even some Roy Orbison and Frank Sinatra. They played Johnny B. Goode. They really knew how to feed off the audience, and during a few songs they let the audience sing – most notably for me, during Hey Jude I belted out one of the bridges (any time you feel the pain/hey Jude, refrain/don’t carry the world upon your shoulder/and well you know that it’s a fool/who plays it cool/by making his world a little colder) and actually got a round of applause from the rest of the diner patrons.
Anyway, we ended up ordering chicken fingers (excellent) and a pepperoni pizza (much better than last time) and several rounds of beer. The check was huge and I certainly can’t go to Elvis every weekend on my current salary, but it was a really, really amazingly good experience. The two musicians played for three hours and they just got better and better with every song.
We talked about how it felt odd to be sitting in a diner with 50’s diner kitsch, eating greasy foods and listening to a band play classic rock standards, and drinking beers, on a Friday night. It felt like we were in a movie about teenagers in the fifties. It was fantastic.
So I’m going to go ahead and give Elvis American Diner five stars for this round. It was one of the best nights I’ve had since I’ve been in Georgia, hands down. And the best part is, these guys play every Friday and Saturday night from 8pm to 11pm. I’ll definitely be going back.