Koko’s Bakery: Head to the Hills for Armenian Flatbreads

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Bakery Pasadena

Koko's Bakery is one of the best food options in Pasadena's Armenian enclave.

It was a sweltering day in the San Gabriel foothills, and the mammoth silver oven at the back of Koko’s Bakery was at full blast, but the Armenian baked goods were so good that it didn’t matter.

Northeast Pasadena features a treasure trove of Armenian, Syrian and Lebanese eateries. This particular spot is situated next to the intriguing Torino Sandwiches, in a charming timeworn building. Krikor “Koko” Saghbazarian and wife Houri opened their bakery in 1991. Koko’s grandfather was a baker in Armenia who was forced to escape to Lebanon during the genocide. Koko and his wife moved to Boston, where son Michael was born, then proceeded to Pasadena to continue his craft.

A dry-erase board lists 14 styles of savory Armenian breads and pies, including spicy cheese, spinach, olive or lahmajune (lean ground beef or mushroom). They only sell flatbreads in pairs or larger bags.

There may not be a single Los Angeles pizzeria that produces such a well-balanced crust, not too puffy, not at all dry, with just the right amount of bite. The Saghbazarians offer two varieties that I’ve never encountered before.

Bakery Pasadena

Open Cheese ($2.50) was a pull-part flatbread topped with mild white Armenian cheese, ground mint and Aleppo pepper flakes.

Bakery Pasadena

Soujouk pie combined white cheese, red pepper flakes and chewy cuts of spicy Armenian beef sausage. Koko sources garlicky, paprika-stained sausage from nearby Garo’s Basturma. Terrific.

Bakery Pasadena

Koko’s Bakery 50/50 flatbread featuring Armenian cheese showered with Aleppo pepper on one side and tangy, herbaceous maneishe on the other side.

Bakery Pasadena

Flaky, pull apart tahini bread was judiciously sweet and rich with sesame flavor.

Cookies Pasadena

Koko fills two display cases with what Michael describes as “Armenian biscotti.” The cookies ($6 per pound) aren’t too sweet, each with a distinct shape and flavor.

Koko normally pulls steaming lahmajunes from the oven at 12:30 PM, so best time your visit with that momentous event. There are three other stellar Middle Eastern bakeries in Los Angeles, and I’ve been to those places many more times, but Koko’s Bakery belongs in the upper tier.


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

Yeranuhi and Christine

It is the best bakery !!!!!

This place is definitely an amazing find…. I left more then satisfied and I’m definitely going back

love how you review this small ethnic eateries.

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