It’s now been well over a decade since my first visit to Elena’s Greek Armenian Cuisine, an institution from Elena Pitkyan and her family on a residential stretch of Glendale that dates to 1976. In that time, I’ve explored dozens of Armenian culinary alternatives throughout L.A. County, but Elena’s remains my touchstone because their kebabs remain unrivaled. This is not only due to the flavor, which comes from a mysterious red marinade and charcoal grill, but also thanks to the value, which is plainly evident regardless of key protein.
My focus at Elena’s bounces between lule kebab, lamb, and quail, but my latest obsession is their pork chops. At $8.99, this thin-cut pair of pork chops is probably not free-range and allowed to feast on the finest acorns and apples that fall to the forest floor. Their flavor is a testament to the grill master who works in the kitchen, since the meat’s consistently juicy, smoky, and great. All dinners come with either soup or salad, rice or French fries. I always opt for tangy lentil soup and rice cooked with flavorful chicken stock. Either way, expect a roasted Anaheim chile, roasted tomato, onion salad with parsley and sumac, punchy pickled turnips and cauliflower florets, and toasted pita with garlic butter. The value’s remarkable.