Elena’s Greek Armenian Cuisine: Gobbling Wonder Meat in Glendale

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Restaurant Glendale

Elena's Greek-Armenian Cuisine stands out on a residential Glendale corner.

I recently learned a long-lost cousin was living only an hour away. One problem: last I knew him, he was vegetarian. Luckily, he came to his senses and started eating animals again. Meaning we could have dinner. I suggested Elena’s, a phenomenal family run Greek-Armenian place that’s been in business since 1976. My cousin said he didn’t like Greek. But Elena’s isn’t ordinary Greek. So whether he wanted it or not, we were off.

Elena Petikyan’s restaurant resides in a residential section of Glendale, second only to Dearborn, Michigan, in population of Armenian-Americans. The exterior is lined with Christmas lights, even in July, and draped with a clear plastic tarp. Despite the spare decor, and just a dozen tables inside, they manage to prepare Los Angeles’ premier Middle Eastern food.

Regardless of your entree, you’re given a choice of soup or salad. Go for the soup, which is always lentil, and always delicious: lemony and refreshing, full of hearty legumes. Crumble on some fresh feta to maximize the experience. Cabbage, carrots, celery, and turnip highlight by a terrific plate of pickled vegetables, crisp and pink. A basket of store-bought pita, grilled and served hot, comes served with a container of house-made garlic butter.

Falafel Los Angeles

Falafel with hummus combines to form a top starter. Unlike typical chickpea rocks you’ll find, these falafel are fist-sized, golden crusted, moist and pillowy within, served with cool tomato slices, and doused in creamy hummus before they get dustings of paprika and a green Armenian spice blend called chaimen.

Grape Leaves Los Angeles

Hot, delicious grape leaves (12 to an order) come stuffed with either ground lamb or rice. Amazingly, the veggie version wins. These dill-laced cigars are buttery and sweet as candy, drizzled with tangy yogurt sauce.

I probably sound like a vegetarian convert, so I’ll get to the good stuff: luscious plates of cow, pig, bird and sheep. All meats are infused with a delicious, and mysterious, red marinade, their smoky flavor emanating from wood placed under coals. Quail come two to an order and taste much better, and cost much less, than any I’ve eaten at fancy restaurants. Pork chops were tender, lean, and infused with the same gift of spice as quail.

Kebabs Los Angeles

Filet mignon and chicken kebabs, lamb chops, and casing-free ground beef (or chicken) sausages called lule kebab also benefit from Elena’s signature spice infusion.

Kebabs Los Angeles

Lamb kebabs were so tender and flavorful that my friend Krystal dubbed them “wonder meat.”

Baklava Los Angeles

For dessert, expect good, cinnamon-dusted rice pudding and a soft baklava rhombus. In the past, I’ve also enjoyed nest-shaped baklava featuring flaky phyllo and crusted pistachios.

All I can normally handle is Armenian coffee, which is phenomenal, naturally rich and sweet, though this coffee is hardly “good to the last drop.” By the time you hit the espresso cup’s pit, you’ll find a delta’s worth of sooty coffee grounds.

Granted, dragging my cousin along to a restaurant he had no interest in probably wasn’t the best way to keep him from regaining long-lost status. But since that restaurant was Elena’s, I knew I had nothing to worry about. And judging by his reaction, looks like we won’t have to wait another four years to eat together again.


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

You were sounding like a vegetarian convert… until we saw those boxes of tallow in the back that they probably fry the (delicious, delicious) falafel in 😉


I don’t mind vegetarian food. Especially with our shared punchline, that Elena’s stocks beef tallow. I like this place even more than I realized, for more reasons than I ever knew.

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