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How To Spend the Perfect Day in Little Armenia

How To Spend the Perfect Day in Little Armenia

Join us on an exploration of one of California’s liveliest neighborhoods. Make sure you're late—no Armenian party has ever started on time.


4 min read

August 03, 2021

Armenians have been living in the Golden State for a very long time. So long, in fact, that Los Angeles boasts one of the biggest populations of Armenians living outside of Armenia in the entire world. Yes, that’s right. No need to travel all the way across the world, just head on over to Little Armenia and you’ll experience food, culture, and hospitality like you’ve never seen before. Restaurant owners might sit and have coffee with you, shop assistants might introduce you to their newly single nephew (the doctor), and grandmas sitting outside will most definitely offer to read your fortune. Join us on an exploration of one of California’s most unique and lively neighborhoods—just make sure to be fashionably late, since no Armenian party has ever started on time.

Little Armenia is named after the Armenians who escaped the Armenian Genocide and made their way to Los Angeles during early 20th century.

8:00 a.m.

You’ve probably scoured the touristy hotspots in Hollywood a bunch of times by now. But did you know that two miles or so from the Hollywood Walk of Fame is Los Angeles’ Little Armenia, an ethnic neighborhood in California that takes the love of food to a whole new level. Walk the streets east of the Hollywood Freeway to North Vermont Avenue, and when you see Thai restaurants give way to colorful murals, you’ll know you’re in the right place. Take a few moments and just marvel at the murals; most of them have a story to tell.

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10 a.m.

Before you actually get to try all of the Armenian food in Los Angeles—and trust us, there’s plenty of time—we recommend taking a look around first. Meander streets flanked by tall, skinny palm trees (you’re in the City of Angels after all), and take note of all the quaint optical shops with Armenian writings all over them.

Next, make your way to St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church and check out the beautiful, stained-glass windows. You’ll feel like you’re standing inside a kaleidoscope surrounded by intricately designed triangles featuring different shades, colors, and even figures. See if you can find Armenia’s iconic snow-capped mountain Ararat on the bottom of the windows.

A blend of spices bursts your taste buds as you feast on the drool-worthy Kabob.

12 p.m.

Okay, we sense that you might have worked up an appetite by now. And if there’s anything to know about Armenians, it’s that an empty stomach is much like a cardinal sin. To remedy that, we suggest walking over to 313 1/2 Vine Street, where the delicious Mini Kabob joint awaits.

This tiny, three-table Armenian restaurant is run by the Martirosyan family—it’s so tiny that it may very well be the tiniest kabob place in all of L.A., and this is definitely a part of its charm. Serving what seems to be known as the “pho of Armenian food,” this joint is popular among locals and tourists alike.

Before you even set foot in this place, the fragrant scents of spices and grilled meats will work their magic on you—this might be one of the reasons why so many people flock to Mini Kabob like moths to a flame. Their plates run the gamut of ground chicken and beef lula paired with fluffy basmati rice, roasted tomatoes and jalapeno, folden Armenian flatbread (lavash), and hummus dusted with Aleppo pepper; the thought alone is making our mouths water.

P.S. While it’s tempting, don’t fill up on the kabobs—there are plenty of restaurants and local takeout spots yet to explore.

You might feel full after lunch, but you can't pass on the opportunity of trying the best cheese buregs in town.

2 p.m.

After you’ve munched on the kabobs, walk on over to another local gem Sasoun Bakery. Much like a lot of the Armenian food you’ll encounter in Los Angeles, Sasoun Bakery is rich not only in flavor, but also in history. 

David Yeretsian opened his first bakery in 1985 when he’d freshly moved to Little Armenia. Initially, the bakery was a modest stand serving only the locals of the community, but now, it has grown to five locations scattered throughout Los Angeles. Another thing Sasoun Bakery is proud of is their cheese bureg—we cannot recommend it enough! Fun fact: its shape was created by the owner himself. And while you may find other buregs shaped like this in other places, remember that this is where it originated.

4 p.m 

Now that you’ve had quite the bellyful, we suggest walking off your food a bit. Take a little detour to Barnsdall Art Park, a hilltop city-park-slash-cultural campus. See those renowned sweeping views for yourself, as well as the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Los Angeles, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. Sit in the shade of the freshly planted olive trees and L.A.’s urban canopy, and take a moment to appreciate your surroundings.

“Soorch khmenk?” is Armenian for “let's take a break, share wisdom, get distracted from work, and enjoy the sip and company."

6 p.m.

Before the thoughts of dinner loom over you completely, try and locate Sahag’s Basturma to pick up a few things to take back with you. And while basturma—which is Armenian cured meat— might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of souvenirs, trust us on this. This little Armenian deli is located in a strip mall and is one of the very few spots in L.A. making basturma or soujoukh; spicy Armenian sausage. 

While you’re waiting for your basturma to be wrapped, order a cup of Armenian coffee—the owner might even join you; Armenians never skip out on sit-down coffee sessions.

8 p.m.

Late dinner anyone? Head on over to the world-renowned Carousel Restaurant, the premier Los Angeles area Middle Eastern eatery which provides you with a culinary experience that’ll please your palate. In business for roughly 35 years, Carousel grew from its original mom-and-pop location to a bustling community hub.

Every dish here is meticulously prepared, and the menu debunks the myth of vegetarians staying hungry in Armenia. Like many other Armenian restaurants in L.A., there definitely is no shortage of kabobs; we recommend the Urfa kabob that comes with fried eggplants. But their appetizers are truly where it’s at—the red tabbouleh, manti (mini meat pies topped with sauces), as well their cheese buregs are top-notch.

Before you call it a day, enjoy the essential Armenian custard-filled doughnut known as-Ponchik.

10 p.m.

Before your time at Little Armenia comes to an end, treat yourself to ponchiks—an Armenian donut essentially—at Papillon Bakery to make your departure a sweet one. The ponchiks are made fresh, only when you order. Choose from a range of fillings which include custard, Oreo, dulce de leche, raspberry, and apricot; you'll fall in love at first bite.

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