Sleeping and Dining in Yerevan, Armenia

On most visits to Armenia you will end up spending a night or two in Yerevan. I was looking forward to eating in the capital city’s restaurants hoping to experience the best of Armenian cooking. Unfortunately I found the restaurants in Noravank, Goris and Dilijan better than in Yerevan.

Azoyan Guest House

Azoyan Guest House, with 3 guest rooms, is wonderfully located on a quiet street blocks from Republic Square. One of the quietest places we’ve slept in Armenia. During the day, however, there were jack hammers and you can hear the metro trains pass, a soft rumble that at first resembles an earthquake. The rooms are spacious and well-furnished with a comfortable bed and plenty of storage. There are also plenty of outlets for charging electronics. The Wi-Fi connection was not the best and would frequently cut out. The bathroom is on the small side with no counter space. The shower is also small but works well with good water pressure and hot water. As this is a small guest house it is not staffed all the time, you need to arrange with the owner when you will be arriving to make sure that someone is there.

The owner, Lusine, is lovely and accommodating. After dinner on our first evening she spent time with us, giving us a map and suggestions on what to do and where to eat. We loved her recommendations for the Serei Parajanov Museum and the Anteb Restaurant for hummus. We were not so happy with the Vostan Restaurant recommendation. She also arranged a transfer to the airport for us which worked well. I did have communication difficulties with her before I arrived, with emails ending up in spam or not going through. It’s therefore best to communicate with her using WhatsApp.

The modest breakfast included hard boiled eggs and a good cucumber and tomato salad served to your table. The buffet offerings included – lavash (a style of flat bread), yogurt, whole fruit, pastry, a couple kinds of cheese and cold cuts, butter, honey a couple kinds of cereal, sliced bread, instant coffee, tea and milk.

Restaurants

Lavash Restaurant

Lavash Restaurant, a super popular eatery, was a disappointment. The dining room and terrace were busy on a Thursday evening and they were turning away folks without a reservation. We were seated in front of the window behind which they make the famed lavash bread. A fascinating process where two women kneeling on the floor skillfully roll out the dough into giant sheets and then stick them to the inside of a tandoor type oven, removing them a few minutes later to a stack on the side.

The menu has a fairly lengthy selection of Armenian specialties with some pictures. We ordered the broccoli and mushroom salad and the lamb neck. I was going to also order a dolma dish but the server was insistent that the lamb neck would be plenty and we shouldn’t order anything else. The salad had great potential and some bites were full of interesting flavors of nuts and pickles, but the broccoli was as bland as could be, probably having been blanched in unsalted water.

The lamb neck was presented on a sizable platter with 5 slices of lamb neck, not a huge amount but plenty for 2, and a giant pile of rice pilaf. While the lamb was wonderfully tender and lamby the pilaf was way too salty and reminiscent of Rice-a-Roni. Don loved it.

For dessert we had to try their giant mille feuille, a huge cake of crispy thin pastry dough layered with sweetened whipped cream served in generous slices. A dramatic dish but not so interesting flavor-wise. Service was efficient but a bit abrupt.

Vostan Restaurant

Vostan Restaurant was recommended by our guest house but we were disappointed by this centrally located establishment. The restaurant is large with multiple rooms, balconies and a central garden. In the summer the garden, cooled by misters, is a pleasant place to dine. The setting is casual and on a Friday evening they were hosting larger groups. The menu includes an extensive selection of Armenian dishes. Unfortunately all of the signature dishes were unavailable. According to the server they were in the process of changing the menu. This meant that they didn’t have any of the more interesting proteins – duck, turkey or beef heart and lung. We were left with a choice of BBQ veal, beef, chicken or pork.

We ended up ordering the veal which turned out to be a mistake. We should have known, as true to form, the meat was over cooked. In both Georgia and Armenia almost all the red meat has been overcooked if you like it anything less than well done, in this case to the point that it was dry. A pity as it was a good quality piece of meat otherwise.

On the brighter side of the evening we enjoyed the server very much. We had mistakenly ordered the Armenian greens to start thinking it was some kind of green salad. When we got of plate of undressed herbs I asked the server how we were supposed to eat them. He explained that Armenians order them with cheese and lavash and roll the herbs and cheese in the bread. Since we had the herbs we ordered the cheese and bread. When the cheese board arrived the server then carefully explained how to cut the cheese as if we had never seen cheese before. It was done with such open warmth it was hard not to smile. We also tried the cabbage dolmas – pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with a meat mixture – that were quite good.

Overall I would not recommend this restaurant – too many groups, uninteresting menu (for the moment at least) and overcooked meat.

Lunch at Anteb Restaurant

Anteb Restaurant is located in a quiet residential neighborhood not far from Republic Square and was the best meal we had in Yerevan. The small, casual eatery serves generally the same type of dishes as other Armenian restaurants but with a stronger Middle Eastern influence. Their super creamy hummus is a favorite. We were told by our guest house to try it and saw it served to a number of tables while we were there. It’s a great hummus with a creamy texture, a more intense tahini flavor than most and topped with a sprinkle of Middle Eastern spices.

We also ordered the Rocca salad – a plate of greens topped with onions, a vinaigrette and a too salty spice mixture; bread (a puffed flat bread of sorts); the BBQ chicken wings – beautifully seasoned and cooked, served with French fries; and the Lahmajun  – a thin crust topped with a spiced minced meat mixture, also nicely done. Service is efficient and friendly.

For links to all the posts in this series see the Southern Caucasus – Georgia/Armenia page.

July 14-16, 2022