The Best Armenian Restaurants In Los Angeles
photo credit: Krystal Thompson
Centered primarily around the city of Glendale, LA’s Armenian community is the largest in the Western Hemisphere - a fact widely known whether or not you’ve been keeping up with the Kardashians. It also means we have the largest (and best) collection of Armenian restaurants in the country. Whether you’re craving lule kebabs, dolma, or giant trays of manti, this guide will point you in the right direction.
Open since 1982, Marouch is one of the longest-standing Armenian/Lebanese restaurants in Hollywood and a pillar of the surrounding community. You can certainly order from this family-run institution and find solid plates of shawarma and kabab combination platters, but Marouch’s greatness lies in its mezze. Come as hungry as you can, because we can’t eliminate the red pepper and pomegranate muhammara, crispy sugok, hummus with ful, or the crunchy falafel from our essential order list.
Between the Glendale Galleria and Americana At Brand feeding into each other’s corporate mall chaos, downtown Glendale can get downright overwhelming. Zhengyalov Hatz is the antithesis to all that. This tiny, counter-service shop only has two things on its menu - sweet paxlava and its namesake zhengyalov hatz. And while we’re always down for a midday dessert moment, your focus should definitely be on the latter. This warm, doughy flatbread that’s wrapped around 15 different herbs and sunflower oil is a delicious, perfectly-constructed wrap and the kind of quick lunch that fills you up without putting you to bed in the process.
Where To Eat In Glendale
Mini Kabob is another Glendale institution that you should prioritize for incredible, affordable kebabs that you can enjoy while chatting with the eccentric elderly couple that runs the place. Most of the kebab platters inside this tiny shop hover under $20, and if you’re able to eat the entire plate in one sitting (it comes with rice, vegetables, hummus, and pita), you’ve earned our unwavering respect. Also, be sure to try the eggplant caviar and tarragon soda.
Located on the northern fringe of Glendale, Monta Factory is a family-run shop that specializes in one thing - mante (also spelled manti). These dumplings can be found on many Armenian menus around town, but nowhere are they the star of the show like Monta Factory. You can either order the “Hungry Monta,” which gets you a full tray of these ground beef dumplings topped with garlic yogurt sauce, or you can go all-in on the “Hangry Montra.” It’s the same exact dish, but double the size. Either way, everything’s under $20.
Sipan is located uncomfortably close to America’s Largest Ikea, but don’t let that deter or distract you - this small, Armenian bakery is a must-visit. It’s hard to go wrong with anything off Sipan’s menu, but ordering a bunch of the flaky cheese or spicy meat-stuffed beoreks needs to be a priority. You might think that buying a dozen for yourself is too many, but that concern will quickly be put to bed after you accidentally eat half of them driving home.
Carousel might not have the absolute best Armenian food in town, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include it here. And that’s because this iconic Glendale restaurant isn’t just the social center of the neighborhood, it’s a long-standing gathering spot for LA’s Armenian community at large. While its massive, belly dancer-filled dining hall is a lot quieter these days during the pandemic, that shouldn’t stop anyone from ordering their massive kebab platters, assorted meze, and shawarma by the pound for takeout and delivery. There’s also a location in East Hollywood.
Elena’s is a Greek/Armenian restaurant that’s been operating just south of downtown Glendale since the 1980s. This is your spot for lentil soups, Greek salads, lule kebabs, and lemony stuffed grape leaves. Also, if you’re looking for a midday pick-me-up, one cup of their Armenian coffee will pick you up, twirl you around, and send you flying into the stratosphere.
We absolutely love this family-run spot on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. As its name suggests, mantee is the specialty here, and while the sumac and yogurt-covered dumpling dish is among our favorite versions in town, don’t even think about hitting the checkout button until both the dolma and sizzling hot feta have made it onto your order as well.
A parking space-sized Armenian deli in East Hollywood, Sahag’s Basturma specializes in cured meats they make in-house. You’ve got two options here - soujouk, a dried, spiced sausage - and basturma, a cured beef that’s heavily spiced and packed with flavor. We prefer the soujouk sandwich, since its hot pepper and garlic spices are especially pungent on the sub roll it comes on, but you really can’t go wrong with either. Sahag’s is the kind of sandwich spot that everyone wished they had in their neighborhood. Pickup only.
If you ask 10 people where the best kabab in Glendale is, you’ll get 20 answers. If you ask us, we’ll tell you to at least check out Moon Mart before making any sweeping proclamations. This tiny strip mall spot makes a beef luleh kabab that’s warm, herbaceous, and requires very minimal work from your incisors. Plus, the $11.99 plate also comes with rice, a roasted tomato, and a side salad. Be sure to pick up an extra side or two of the mast moosir (creamy lebni) for all your dipping needs in the week ahead.
With long wooden tables, iron chandeliers swinging from the ceiling, and secret booths hidden among tiny alcoves, Old Gyumri’s space feels closer to a century-old tavern deep in the Armenian Highlands than a restaurant on a Glendale side street. While eating inside is off the table right now, that shouldn’t stop you from ordering takeout. We absolutely love the barbecued lamb chops, and if you’re looking for something lighter, their massive Armenian salad beats any corporate salad bar.
Open since 1980, Falafel Arax is another East Hollywood institution and home to some of our favorite falafel in the neighborhood. Seriously, we have an in-house company rule that if we’re ever within a half-mile radius of this tiny strip mall spot, a drop-in is mandatory. As the name suggests, the falafel is the star, but their shawarma is almost just as good. Luckily, you can just order the combo plate and get both at the same time.
Tonir Cafe is home to some of our favorite kabobs in the Valley. There are a ton of excellent options here, from chicken breast to beef shish, but the standout is the beef lule, which is ground beef, onions, and parsley slow-cooked over an open flame. It’s the kind of dish you eat once for lunch and immediately make plans to return the next week. If you’re looking for an affordable, on-the-go lunch in Burbank, Tonir takeout is your best option. Also, in the event you need a good stop light car snack, grab an extra bag of six pitas for only $3.
If you can’t find Rafo’s, that means you’ve found it. Hiding in a corner strip mall in Burbank, Rafo’s announces itself with a glowing red sign in the window that reads “Pizza Kabobs.” And pizza and kabobs are exactly what’s happening here. While their kabobs are good, their pizza is better. And more specifically, their phenomenal, sauceless, goat cheese-covered Armenian pizza.