Arax Bakery: An Armenian River Runs Through East Hollywood [CLOSED]

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Armenian Bakery Los Angeles

Molive rolls are fluffy Arax creations rolled around minced olives and za’atar.

Arax Bakery opened in Little Armenia in 1986, named for an Armenian river. Vrej Tolmajian continues to use old family recipes, rising every morning before sunrise to make fresh pastes, fillings and toppings, and of course to bake. His aunt Taline and her husband are also key contributors to the bakery’s success.

Unlike many Armenian bakeries around the city, which focus on sweets, Arax is committed to savory baked goods. The menu touts affordable items like Lahmajun – thin-crusted beef pizzas; Beuregs – pockets filled with meat, cheese, potato or spinach; and breads topped with spicy olive sauce, spinach and cheese or za’atar.

Armenian Bakery Menu Los Angeles

Arax has a narrow focus, selling only a dozen items per day, which helps with quality control.

Armenian Bakery Los Angeles

After Tolmajian fires breads in the oven, he sets them on the retail counter to cool. Spinach and cheese bread is a fluffy disc brushed with olive oil and topped with chopped spinach, onions and mozzarella-like Armenian cheese. Los Angeles isn’t strong on pizza, but this is a winning substitute.

With all the breads, there’s the option to have it re-heated for a couple minutes in the oven, restoring the just-baked effect and bringing out the wonderful aromas.

Armenian Bakery Los Angeles

Lahmajun is Arax’s biggest seller, a crispy millimeters-thin disc topped with ground beef and zesty tomato sauce.

During Lent, Arax uses ground mushrooms instead of beef in lahmajunes. During those 40 days, Vrej also offers one of my favorite items, a half-moon shaped pocket filled with tahini paste, chard and garbanzo beans.

Armenian Bakery Los Angeles

Spicy olive bread is similar to spinach and cheese bread, but it’s slathered with spicy, olive-studded tomato-paste. The lip stinging is well worth it.

To keep the baked goods fresh, after they cool on the counter, they’re bagged. They stack spicy olive bread and Manaeshe, which they season with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture that includes thyme, sumac and oregano.

Armenian Bakery Los Angeles

A display case below the counter holds trays with two varieties of date paste-filled wheat cookies sprinkled with sesame seeds: Cheoregs and Mamouls. Arax Bakery also offers date-free cookie twists, browned at the base.

Arax Bakery’s pull-apart frisbee-sized disc flavored with tahini paste is another unpictured item. Taline will ask whether you want it well-done or lightly-cooked, depending on how crispy or soft you like it. Well-done, the tahini and sugar tend to caramelize a bit more.

Arax Bakery may only offer a dozen items per day, but they’re all expertly prepared, so I always face an agonizing decision at the counter. While I may order different things, I can always be sure of two things. One: The baked goods are consistently delicious. Two: the Tolmajians are consistently friendly. The combination has made me a regular.

NOTE: Be warned, if you park in the lot, customers of the Salvadorean bakery WILL block you in. Park on the street instead.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

This bakery was my favorite place. I am so sad they closed down. I wonder why

Arax Bakery closed?! So sad. Vrej is such a nice guy, and so talented.

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