food · Travel

Armenian Eats

One of the top things most tourists/travelers dig when in a new place – FOOD. I was not an exception in my latest trip to Armenia. It was winter time, mobility is sometimes an issue, so what is the best and cheap time to discover the country’s culture? Eat!

Fortunately, the food gods must have heard my prayer that everything, as in everything I have tried, were very much approved by my palate. I have read in a blog that Georgian cuisine was better than Armenian, but I digress. I loved Armenian food and if I ever visit the country again, I will really make sure to be on another foodtrip.

Let’s walk back to memory lane while my stomach churns and my appetite whets.

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Restaurant: Kavkazskaya Plennitsa, Amiryan cor. Khogbatsi St. Yerevan

What I Had: Rice, Khorvats (Pork Barbecue Armenian-Style), Khinkali, Lavash (Bread), White Wine, Water

+ Points: Unique interior worthy of a visit, rustic atmosphere, cheap (I paid about 11$ for this meal), band playing Armenian music for entertainment

It’s my first night! And there is no better way to get introduced to Armenian cuisine than here. I almost finished everything I ordered. Well appreciated recommendation from the hotel. Caution: restaurant’s name is not written in English. 

Restaurant: Karash, various within Ketron area

What I Had: Lavash, Chicken Chakhokhbili (which came with bread rolls), Strawberry Compote

+ Points: Carrying the tagline, the national fastfood chain, it is a sure and reliable go-to restaurant sure to satisfy your Armenian cuisine craving. Cheap, too. I paid 3.5$ for my order above. Superb customer service, condiments and utensils were provided completely even for take-away orders. Fast and free wifi.

My first lunch for the trip, more appropriately, brunch. I went back to this fastfood a few more times. I ordered pork khorvats (again) and tskjvik, similar to Philippines’ bopis (through an Armenian food delivery service). The tskjvik was yum, considering that I am not a bopis-lover, but the food delivery service’s service sucked. Oh, I forgot I also ordered spaghetti for take-away (for New Year) which surprisingly didn’t have a sauce and just tasted like cooked noodles.

Restaurant: KFC, Tumanyan Street, in front of Opera House

What I Had: Chicken Strips

+ Points: Just in case you want to take a break from Armenian food… No, they don’t have McDonalds here. Cheap for less than 2$.

Went here for a snack just to give it a try. Menu is in Armenian, but the counter can help.

Restaurant: Old Yerevan, Tumanyan cor. Northern Avenue, Yerevan

What I Had: Pork Shawarma, Softdrinks

+ Points: Open even on New Year’s day (holidays)

My go-to restaurant when there was nowhere else to eat. Don’t get me wrong though, I would still come here even if there were choices. I was surprised to know that there was pork shawarma, so much so that I have developed a love affair with this sandwich in Middle East where pork is a no-no. It was oily, but I think that’s what made it so yummy!

Restaurant: Stalls at Armenian Christmas Market, Northern Ave. Yerevan

What I Had: Pastry and Gluhwein

+ Points: Cheap at less than 2$ each for the pastry and gluhwein from Areni. Perfect combination for the cold while shopping at the Christmas Market.

Snack couldn’t get any more Armenian and Christmassy than this!

Restaurant: Mer Taghe, Tumanyan St. Yerevan

What I Had: Lamahcun

+ Points: Perfect lahmacun. Cheap at 1.75$. Very hospitable and accommodating staff. I was given a vegetable bread (filled with spinach) as a “present”. I was the only foreigner dining at that time.

I was on my way from a tour and I was intently looking for a place to eat. Located beside a gyros shop, I was deciding where to dine. The tagline – Armenian pizza, got me! I have to see how the Armenians do it and if they can convert me from an Italian pizza eater. Hands down, will choose Mer Taghe’s lahmacun over an Italian pizza. Over a thin-crust pizza. Warning: Don’t underestimate the filling power of this lamahcun. I thought I could easily finish the vegetable bread, but no, I couldn’t have any more bite than I wanted though I really tried as I wanted to appreciate this “present”. I had it wrapped and went to my New Year treats corner in my room.

Restaurant: Mashtots Shaurma, Mashtots cor. Pushkin St. Yerevan

What I Had: Bread. Borsch soup. Fries. Pork khorvats.

+ Points: Borsch soup was perfect for that cold night. Cheap at 7$ for everything, including water with gas.

I know. I always order a lot of food. Either I was that hungry that time, or I just wanted to try as much local dish as I can. Borsch soup was a winner. You wont notice this joint at first, or probably wouldn’t give it a try. Blame it on my laziness to search for a new place to eat on a cold night. Pleasant discovery!

Restaurant: Tashir Pizza, Northern Ave. Yerevan

What I Had: Mushroom and Ham Salad. Chicken Risotto

+ Points: Easy to find. Lots of local diners

I actually didn’t like both my orders. Quite a letdown, but it must be my fault. If a restaurant is already called Tashir PIZZA, I should have ordered PIZZA, right? Next time… Not bad though as it is not expensive at less than 4$, softdrinks included.

Restaurant: Queenburger,Tigran Mets Ave. Yerevan

What I Had: Cheeseburger. Fries.

+ Points: Fresh potatoes for French fries.

Searched for a place to eat from Yerevan Train Station to St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral to Gum Market and back, and only found this open (weekend after New Year’s Day). Was famished, so I went in. No regrets. The burger tasted fresh and so different from the Western fastfood burgers we know. Downside: smoking was allowed in this enclosed space, I noticed it is common in Armenia.

Restaurant: Haykanoush Restaurant, In-House Restaurant of Old Dilijan Complex Hotel, Dilijan

What I Had: Dinner – Tavoush-style Fried Pork. Rice. Gata. Tea; Breakfast – included in the hotel stay, choice of hot meal

+ Points: Ambiance. Very sumptuous pork and dessert. Customer service.

I chose a spot by the window overlooking Dilijan town. Instrumental piano music fills the air. It would have been a perfect date place, if I weren’t alone. This was my last dinner in Armenia, and I gave my all in it. All out in my orders, which were all gooood. I almost finished the pot-full of pork and fries hehehe… And the gata was so heavenly, I regret not buying in front of Garni Temple and vowed to bring some back to Dubai.

Breakfast was included in my hotel booking. It was a set meal, and food quickly filled my table and took me a while to start eating as I thought that was it  front of me. Then, the waitress came and showed me a menu to choose my hot dish. I decided to try Harisa, think oatmeal arroz caldo, it was bland just like oatmeal but had chicken shreds like arroz caldo. The waitress suggested I put butter in it, something we don’t do in our arroz caldo. It was a good choice, but a heavy one at that. No, I didn’t finish the dish. I tried the fruit jam in my bread and I liked it too. It wasn’t too sweet. I have already ordered mixed banana and strawberry juice (as recommended again by the waitress) but I ordered water to wash down everything. I thought I will be charged for it, as I already ordered juice, but I wasn’t.

Few more things, or food, rather that I got to try in this trip. Topleft, a piece of “cake” given by the hotel staff to me. I cannot compare its taste with anything I have tried before. It was yummy. Right, Hayos tarragon lemonade, had something similar in Georgia and this brought me back to my Georgian (food)trip as well. Bottom: my New Year treats corner with 13 different kinds of round fruits (observed according to Philippine beliefs and traditions). Middle left: Cake I bought from SAS Supermarket which tastes like sanz rival.

When in Armenia, don’t forget to include food in your trip. It is something I guarantee you wont regret and will pull you one day to go back. Just like I am feeling now…

Oh, and don’t forget to try lavash. It’s everywhere. It’s cheap. And it’s included in the list of UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Enjoy!

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