Perhaps in keeping with their precarious geography, located at the Asian-European border between Turkey and Russia, Georgians are known both for their quick hospitality and equal speed at giving you the knife. At Kargi Gogo, a new downtown cart serving Georgian street food, the knife comes with a fork.
Kargi Gogo (Georgian for "good girl") is pure comfort fare. Case in point: Georgia's national dish, khachapuri ($6), is basically a grilled cheese sandwich—a partly pickled blend of Georgian cow-milk cheeses curdy enough to be goat, melted into toasted flatbread. It is as if the native pungency of a farm has been distilled into bread and cream, and it is wonderful.
The cart's khinkali ($6) is soup, meatball and dumpling at once. The broth-filled teardrops of dough must be bitten into and slurped from upside down before one can safely finish the meal of bitter herbal beef and pork. (Note: Do not wear white while eating or it will get spotted with broth.)
Meanwhile, the garlicky badrijani ($6) is a vegan version of bacon-walnut hors d'oeuvres. Rolled strips of eggplant fill in the savory notes, while seeds of decadent pomegranate add a tart wallop.
The cart's owners are not Georgians but rather a pair of friendly Midwestern former Peace Corps volunteers who learned to cook while partaking in any of a number of supras, which are lengthy Georgian feasts. A "supra" containing a bit of each item on the menu is available for $8, and it's the best option. Eaten individually, each item seems like a large-portioned appetizer; served together they are, if not a feast, certainly a lovely peace offering.
EAT: Kargi Gogo, 950 SW Washington St., 489-8432, kargigogo.com. 11:30 am-5:30 pm Monday-Friday, noon-4 pm Saturday. $.