Searching hopelessly one night for what turned out to be a defunct traditional Armenian restaurant, we inquired with the locals in Yerevan regarding where we could find good traditional Armenian food. “There,” all fingers pointed in the direction of one of the handful of local kebab joints.
We declare – man cannot live on kebabs alone! And anyway, could grilled minced meat wrapped in lavash (flat bread) really represent the breadth of the Armenian table?
Don't mention Yerevan's better and more accessible restaurants, Caucasus Tavern and Mimino. As good as they are, they are just as much Georgian as they are Armenian, if not more.
For the low down, go to Nury's Deli and have a chat with the owner. Although we weren't expecting to get a lesson in traditional Armenian food, the owner, an Armenian-Syrian, is on a mission to help Armenians re-discover their traditional cuisine before Sovietization eliminated much of its balance and variety. He explained that although meat has always been important, traditional Armenian cuisine featured more vegetables, spices – and even fruit – for more balance.
Unfortunately for us, our moment of clarity arrived on our last night in Yerevan. Next time, fewer kebabs and more visits to Nury's Deli.
In the interest of full disclosure, we did manage to find a couple of Armenian restaurants in Yerevan listed at the tourist office. However, they obviously targeted visitors and tour groups, offering “traditional” music and non-traditional prices. If the only Armenian restaurants in town are geared to tourists, are they really representative of the cuisine? This isn't our eating style anyhow, so we gave them a pass. Let us know if we missed out on something special.
For unfinished bits from across Yerevan's colorful markets, check out our Yerevan Photo Essay.
Yerevan Travel Tips: Armenian Restaurants
- Nury's Deli and Restaurant: 62 Teryan Street. Lebanese and traditional Armenian dishes. Talk with the owner to get your own lesson on Armenian cuisine.
- Mimino: 7 Alek Manukian Street. On our last evening in Yerevan, our friend,Yeranuhi, and her husband took us to Mimino's where we enjoyed roasted eggplant with garlic filling and pomegranate seeds, roasted vegetables and Greek-style dolmas (meat wrapped with grape leaves).
- Caucasus Tavern: 82 Hanrapetutyan Street. Large selection of salads, soups, shashlik (barbecue), and breads from Georgia and Armenia. The roasted eggplant dip was Audrey's favorite.
- New Delhi: 29 Tumanyan Street. Although not Armenian food, it's the best Indian food we've had since Hanoi.
- Street food: The underpass in front of GUM shopping area (Tigran Mets Street) had the best selection of kebab wrapped in lavash (flat bread).