Where to eat in Armenia
For fast food: Go to Tumanyan Shawerma + (http://shaurma.armshops.com/) located at 19 Tumanyan Street, not far from the corner of Abovyan Street intersection going in the direction towards Opera Square. This place offers the best, freshest version of the Middle Eastern shawerma sandwich in the city, which includes finely sliced slow roasted chicken, beef, or pork, parsley, sliced hot peppers, onions, mayonnaise and ketchup wrapped in a round thin pita bread, although you can choose your condiments. Other offerings include dzhvzhik, which is basically a sandwich with sautéed beef liver and onions, and beef, lamb, or chicken kebab sandwiches—kebab is a long, thin barbequed slab of finely ground meat mixed with pureed onions. Nothing in the city tops their selection of sandwiches. Hundreds of people visit this place every day, so the meat is always fresh since there is a noticeably high turnover. I do not recommend going anywhere else for shawerma in particular, since you don’t know what you’ll get or how long it’s been sitting around.
There are lamejo (aka lahmejune) joints throughout
For classic Armenian cuisine: The first place that comes to mind, and a very popular restaurant for tourists, is called Our Village (Mer Kiugh) located on Sayat Nova Street near the Deryan Street intersection and next to the florist, Brambion. This place has an excellent assortment of classic dishes found both in Western and Eastern Armenian cuisines, including the standard dolmas and kuftas. They also offer homemade cheeses, cold cuts, and wines that are delivered from various villages. Go as early as possible since things run out towards closing time. Another place to visit is called Kilikia, on the corner of Tumanyan and Alaverdian (Hanrapedutian) Streets. This place has unique dishes that you cannot find anywhere else, including an extensive selection of cold salads and even Harissa, which is a slowly simmered mash of shredded lamb or chicken and barley, topped with a pond of melted butter.
There are restaurants offering national dishes in nearly all towns and small cities throughout
For regional cuisine:
For Middle Eastern cuisine: Many of the restaurants offering dishes like hummus, taboule, shish taouk, and even falafel are run or managed by Armenians from Lebanon or Syria. There are quite a few doing business now, but my favorite is Nury, located near the Deryan and Moscovyan intersection. This place also has an excellent selection of Western Armenian dishes, like mante and sini kufta, both favorites from my childhood. They also have an excellent Lebanese fish dish made with tahini, tomato, and lemon. During the evening supper is usually accompanied by live piano music. Honorable mentions include Lagonid, at the top of Tumanyan Street, as well as Amazon, located in the Sayat Nova Complex, which has a great Incan-influenced, colorful atmosphere. There is also the restaurant Beirut on
For International cuisine: Cuisine from other societies, including Chinese, Thai, and Italian, is appearing everywhere in
A great French restaurant featuring authentic Cog au Vin and Beef Bourguignon can be found on the corner of Arami and Abovyan Streets, called Chez Christophe. Excellent Filet Mignon steak can be had at Studio Café near the Cascade, probably the only place in the country you can find grilled beef that is not charred dry resembling rawhide.
And for authentic Indian food, go to
For those visiting from the
For barbeque: Since Armenians worship barbequed meat, particularly pork, it is difficult to be disappointed with this offering. While in
Once again, I should mention that most dining experiences in the regions will be pleasant, even better than those in
Why are there so many cafés, and which one should I go to? This is a very good question. There is a political answer: in summary wealthy government officials as well as parliamentarians open them for money laundering purposes, and few are actually profitable. I cannot say this for every single café, as I know there are also private ones operating. The other answer is that they are major tourist attractions, but at the expense of vanishing green spaces throughout
The only one that I frequent in the Opera vicinity is called Vernisage, located in the weekend arts marketplace of the same name in the park where the Saryan statue is located. This place is far from pretentious, prices are reasonable, and the wait staff is relatively attentive as well as friendly compared to other places within
But my father loves Jazzve, located directly behind the Opera House. We were there nearly every night during my parents’ 20 day stay last September. They have an extensive menu of desserts, coffee and tea drinks, not to mention ice cream sundaes. This place seems to have adequate service, but be warned that at most cafés the wait staff is pitifully inefficient. My patience runs thin at most of these places, which is why I try to avoid them, unless I need to meet people.
Well, there you have it. Bon appetite!