Los Angeles

10 Essential Armenian Restaurants to Try in Los Angeles

Armenian cuisine is influenced by Russia, the Mediterranean, Middle East, and more.

Photo courtesy of Lusy's Mediterranean Cafe
Photo courtesy of Lusy’s Mediterranean Cafe
Photo courtesy of Lusy’s Mediterranean Cafe

What makes LA such a unique city is the melting pot of cultures which is seen throughout the city’s ethnic 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 one of the most significant ethnic enclaves in the city and 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 honours 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 neighbouring 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 honour of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24, we’re sharing a list of the best Armenian restaurants around LA as well as our favourite dishes that we know and love.

Mantee Cafe

Studio City 
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.

Mini Kabob
Mini Kabob
Mini Kabob

Mini Kabob

Glendale
This hole-in-the-wall eatery is a Glendale favourite and a meat lovers paradise. The family-run restaurant serves some of the best kabobs out of it’s 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.

Photo by Kristina Grrigoryan, courtesy of Khinkali House
Photo by Kristina Grrigoryan, courtesy of Khinkali House
Photo by Kristina Grrigoryan, courtesy of Khinkali House

Khinkali House

Glendale
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 its 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: Call (818) 649-1015 for takeout.

Photo courtesy of Lusy's Mediterranean Cafe
Photo courtesy of Lusy’s Mediterranean Cafe
Photo courtesy of Lusy’s Mediterranean Cafe

Lusy’s Mediterranean Cafe & Grill

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.

Falafel Arax

East Hollywood
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 falafels, shawarma, and kabobs. Dishes can be served on a plate or in a sandwich (but we think falafel and shawarma belong in between 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.

Carousel Restaurant
Carousel Restaurant
Carousel Restaurant

Carousel Restaurant

Glendale and Hollywood
Carousel Restaurant is Armenian-owned but the food served here has a 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 ossmanlieh is a roasted vermicelli dough filled with cream.
How to order: Order delivery or takeout online here.

Tonir Cafe

Burbank
Foodies 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 ambience. 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

Sahags Basturma Sandwich Shop

East Hollywood
Basturma is the Armenian equivalent to bresaola in Italy. It’s an air-dried cured beef with tons of flavour 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: Call (323) 661-5311 for takeout.

Old Gyumri Restaurant
Old Gyumri Restaurant
Old Gyumri Restaurant

Old Gyumri

Glendale
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: Order delivery or takeout online here

Taron Bakery

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 beoreks. The lahmajun is a traditional Armenian dish that’s also popular which looks like a pizza topped with minced meat instead of cheese.
How to order: Call (323) 663-4809 for takeout

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Leila Nasjafi is a freelance travel writer based in LA and wants to give a shout out to fellow foodie @LAFoodJunkie for helping her create this list. Follow her adventures around LA on Instagram @LeilasList.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.