Top 5 Armenian Bakeries in Los Angeles
Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 3), we'll be bringing you periodic lists of some of the best things we've found to eat and drink around town. Ice cream sandwiches and bowls of tsukemen, fish tacos and dan dan mien, cups of boba and glasses of booze. Read on.
Tracy Chabala Paradise Bakery
It's pretty much impossible to find 100% Armenian pastries (and cuisine, for that matter) in Los Angeles, or on the planet in general, given the perennial displacement of so many Armenians from their mother country. As a result of this cultural crossover, most Armenian bakeries sport influences and offerings from Lebanon, Russia, Turkey, Greece and even Mexico, thanks to the multiculturalism present in the average Los Angeles strip mall.
But if you're in the know, you can certainly track down some quintessential Armenian baked goods. Lahmajune, a flatbread covered in a piquant layer of smashed lamb -- make sure it's lamb, not beef! -- can be purchased all over the greater Los Angeles area, and choreg, a braided sweet bread sprinkled with sesame seeds, can be bought at the nearest Jons. All these offerings will be spelled differently, pronounced differently, and maybe even prepared differently, depending on the bakers' region or country of emigration, so don't be surprised if you ask for "choreg" and the person behind the counter asks you if you want "cheese or spinach?" thinking you mean "borek," a clunky savory turnover. Turn the page for our top 5 Armenian bakeries.
5. Goldstar Bakery:
Tracy Chabala Goldstar Bakery
This is one of the few spots for gata, a rolled sweet with an appearance similar to the Jewish rugulah, its doughy folds lathered with sugared butter. It's a common decadence among Russian Armenians, and at Goldstar you'll also find a spread of delicate Russian "tabouchka" (more commonly known as trubochki), a three-inch pastry horn filled with sweet cream. They also make fresh Armenian breads and a petite tres leches cake, but they get the gold star (and the mention) for their gata. (Note: If you go to Paradise Bakery, listed below, and ask for gata, you will get a thick flaky bread.) 5216 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; 323-660-8900.
4. Sarkis Pastry:
Tracy Chabala Sarkis Pastry
If you want a delectable variety of bite-size Armenian and Middle Eastern cookies, head to Sarkis Pastry in Glendale or Pasadena. Mammoul, a flaky shortbread cocoon dusted in powdered sugar and filled with orange blossom watered pistachios, is superb. And, to add more confusion to the macaroon, the Middle Eastern variety has nothing in common with either the French macaron (those colorful meringue cookies smeared all over Bottega Louie's face) or the American macaroon (spongy balls of shredded coconut). Yansoon (anise seed) macaroons at Sarkis are airy finger-shaped biscuits covered in a delicate sweet syrup. 1111 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale; (818) 956-6636. 1776 E Washington Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 398-3999.
5216 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA