What makes LA such a unique city is the melting pot of cultures which is seen throughout the city’s various neighborhoods. From Koreatown to Chinatown to Persian Square, LA is one of the most diverse cities in the country. In particular, LA’s Armenian community represents the largest Armenian population in the entire United States. The Armenian diaspora in California is made up of over 200,000 people, mostly clustered in tight-knit communities across Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, North Hollywood, and Little Armenia in East Hollywood.
Ancient Armenian culture is rich in history and goes beyond what most people know based on one mega-famous family’s antics (read: The Kardashians). Perhaps the most widely known and tragic moment in Armenian history is the Armenian Genocide. The brutal massacre started on April 24, 1915, by the Ottoman government killing an estimated one million Armenians over the course of eight years. Similar to other genocides in history, a day of remembrance not only honors the lives lost but also recognizes the atrocity that occured against humankind in hopes that it will never be repeated again.
Today, an estimated seven million Armenians live in over 100 countries around the world. Since the country shares borders with Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, Armenians fled to neighboring countries or even further abroad. The cuisine reflects the diversity of the regions it is influenced by, including Russia, the Mediterranean and Middle East, amongst others. Therefore, traditional Armenian dishes like lula kebab, dolma, and mantee may look similar to other cuisines and are generally a fusion of many regions.
In honor of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24, we’re sharing a list of the best Armenian restaurants around LA as well as our favorite dishes that we know and love.
This tiny neighborhood bakery with several locations serves traditional Armenian goods like lahmajune (flatbread with minced meat or Armenian-style pizza), beef and cheese boreks, and tahini bread. The menu is limited to a few of their specialties including the triangle-shaped cheese boreks that come out piping hot and at about $2 each, you might as well get a dozen and thank yourself later.
How to order: In-store only.
With multiple locations across Los Angeles, you have plenty of options to try this authentic bakery churning out sweet and savory treats including Armenian-style pizza, perashki (fried dough filled with your choice of meat, vegetables or cheese), and ponchik which are similar to donuts with sweet fillings like nutella, custard, or dulce de leche. Everything is made fresh to order and you won’t want to leave without trying their specialty—a bread boat which is an open-faced calzone topped with egg, cheese, and sausage. Breakfast anyone?
How to order: Order online here.
Arguably, one of of the most well-known Middle Eastern restaurants in LA is Raffi’s Place. The family-run restaurant draws long lines and hungry crowds on most days of the week and while it’s technically considered Persian cuisine, it is owned by Armenian immigrants. Many locals consider Raffi’s Place to have the best kabobs in LA so do as they do and order the beef soltani which is a combination plate including charbroiled filet mignon and ground beef skewers with a side of Basmati rice topped with golden saffron. Wrap a piece of kabob with lavash bread and a handful of herbs and grilled tomato and make yourself a loghmeh or “the perfect bite”—you’ll quickly see why Armenians and Persians have been frequenting Raffi’s since 1993.
How to order: Order online here.
At Cafe Areni, you’ll feel like you’re having a meal at Grandma’s house. The menu is a fusion of homemade Armenian, Russian, and American dishes including kabobs, wraps, salads, and soups. For starters, try the cabbage salad topped with a housemade dressing. The Armenian platter for lunch is a great deal and comes with a beef cutlet, a side of rice, Armenian salad, and a soda for $10.99. You can also try their other cutlets a la carte or get the lamp chops if you’re extra hungry.
How to order: In person or call to order delivery.
This family-owned restaurant serves authentic Lebanese-Armenian cuisine in a cozy restaurant setting that looks like someone’s home kitchen. Mantee Cafe is aptly named after the signature dish, Mantee, a meat-filled ravioli served with yogurt sauce and topped with spices. Other popular dishes include the Hot Feta and Hummus topped with Filet Mignon, but portion sizes are on the small side so make sure to order a few dishes.
How to order: Order curbside pickup here.
This hole-in-the-wall eatery is a Glendale favorite and a meat lover’s paradise. The family-run restaurant serves some of the best kabobs out of its tiny 300-square-foot space. Choose from succulent beef or juicy chicken served on a bed of rice with a side of house-made hummus and if you can’t decide, order the combination plate so you can try both.
How to order: Call 818-244-1343 for takeout.
When you think of dumplings, Armenian food may not come to mind but after trying Khinkali House you might think twice. Khinkali is a meat-filled dumpling with broth that originated in Georgia (the country, not the state), but the owners of this restaurant are Armenian so the menu is a fusion of Georgian-Armenian cuisine. Khinkali House is best known for their dumplings, made with a mixture of ground beef and pork or you can choose vegetarian options like mushrooms or cheese. Pro-tip: Suck the broth out first before eating the dumpling.
How to order: Walk in or call 818-649-1015 for takeout.
Van Nuys and Encino
The husband-and-wife duo Lusy Gradzhyan and Avedis Koshkaryan opened this restaurant to showcase chef Lusy’s family recipes that have been passed down for generations. Flame-grilled kabob plates, pita wraps, and hearty Mediterranean-inspired salads are all made from scratch daily here.
How to order: Order delivery or takeout online here.
It’s no secret that some of the best food in LA is hidden in strip malls and Falafel Arax in Little Armenia is proof of that. It’s a no-frills sandwich shop featuring some of the best Middle Eastern street food like Falafel, Shawarma, and Kabobs. Dishes can be served on a plate or in a sandwich (but we think falafel and shawarma belong in between thick slices of fresh pita bread). The food here is best suited for takeout so you can make a delicious mess on the comfort of your couch.
How to order: Call 323-663-9687 for takeout.
Glendale and Hollywood
Carousel Restaurant is Armenian-owned, but the food served here has Middle Eastern flair. An expansive menu features an assortment of kebabs and seafood plates, but the real stars of the show here are the appetizers. You could easily order a full feast just from the laundry list of hot and cold mezze starter dishes. The Falafel, Sarma, and Hammos are fantastic dishes to start with and the Khash-Khash Kebab with beef lula is one of their specialty dishes. Make sure to save room for dessert: the Osmalieh involves roasted vermicelli dough filled with cream.
How to order: Order delivery or takeout online here.
Food lovers flock to Tonir Cafe for the marinated kabobs cooked on an open-charcoal grill. The unassuming cafe has casual indoor seating but you’re not here for ambiance. The top-notch meat skewers are generously portioned and if you’re with a group consider ordering the family specials for a variety of meats.
How to order: Call 818-563-6666 to order takeout or order delivery online here.
Basturma is the Armenian equivalent to bresaola in Italy. It’s an air-dried cured beef with tons of flavor and tastes good on its own or between thick, folded pita bread. The sandwiches here might look plain but they’re anything but. Thinly pressed paninis served with pickled vegetables pack a punch and they’re perfect for picnics or a quick afternoon bite.
How to order: Walk in or call 323-661-5311 for takeout.
Old Gyumri serves traditional Armenian cuisine in a space reminiscent of ancient medieval times. The restaurant pays homage to Gyumri, one of Armenia’s largest cities, specializing in freshly made salads, kabobs, and an extensive list of tasty Middle Eastern appetizers such as Hummus, Yogurt Cucumber Dip, Basturma, and a housemade version of Ghaurma, a stuffed pumpkin dish with beef.
How to order: Walk in or order delivery or takeout online.
Glendale Need a reason to indulge? How about a delicious Armenian bakery offering a limited menu of savory treats with nothing over $4? Order one of everything and definitely try their best sellers, the Spinach or Cheese Boreks. The Lahmajune is a traditional Armenian dish that’s also popular—it looks like a pizza topped with minced meat instead of cheese.
How to order: Walk in or call 323-663-4809 for takeout.