Plugs — Armen Martirosyan
L.A. food and drink recs from the face of Mini Kabob.
Plugs* is The Angel’s recs column. Every Saturday, you’ll get six picks — a restaurant, a bar, a shop, an ingredient, a person, and a treat — from someone in Los Angeles who knows what they’re talking about.
Third up is Armen Martirosyan, the affable host and seasoned kabob cook at a little Armenian restaurant in Glendale that makes my favorite food in all of Los Angeles. If you’ve been to Mini Kabob, you know Armen. He works alongside his parents, Ovakim and Alvard, to make absolutely banging ground beef lule and chicken thigh shish kabobs, perfect lamb chops, and utterly refreshing shirazi salad. A handful of visits ago, he told me to get the eggplant caviar. Now I get it every time. He moves from front-of-house operations to back-of-house duties at Mini Kabob with swift finesse, taking orders on the phone, grilling meat. And he’s genuinely passionate about the L.A. food scene. Every time I stop by to pick up lunch, he’s got a new restaurant or a pop-up to recommend. Armen has a project of his own brewing, a Mexican-Middle Eastern spot called Mid East Tacos, which will be opening in Silver Lake soon (!). Here are his L.A. plugs.
Restaurant — Amiga Amore
[Danielle Duran-Zecca] is a friend of mine from high school. She just opened a restaurant in Highland Park called Amiga Amore. I think she’s doing what the city needs which is delicious fusion food. She’s doing it with her husband [Alessandro Zecca] and they’re crushing it. My favorite dish is her elote agnolotti. I think that represents Los Angeles very well, in terms of bringing two cultures [Mexican and Italian] together. Bringing tacos and pasta together, that multiculturalism, is the epitome of what L.A. is.
Bar — Chateau Marmont
I love going to Chateau Marmont where Terence Leavey is working now. It’s all about the ambiance, the vibe you get. It’s a beautiful setting. You feel like you’re warped into a different time zone but you’re still in L.A.
Shop — Super King
Super King has what we need in terms of Armenian products. If you need something for the house, Super King has it. We buy tons of Persian cucumbers, any type of cured meat like mortadella and salami, and the specific stuff that you can’t find in other stores, like Armenian string cheese and pickled vegetables. You name it, they have it—anything that’s representative of homeland.
Ingredient — Sumac & Aleppo Pepper
Sumac and Aleppo pepper combined is a great finish to any dish. We use that a lot at Mini Kabob, and I use it for Mid East Tacos as well. The dried berries [impart] a good acid balance.
Person — Wes Avila
I’m inspired by Wes Avila, always have been. The guy is super down to earth, he’s cool as hell, and his tacos are amazing. He gives very, very solid advice. His cookbook helped me find my palate with the Mexican-Middle Eastern fusion, so I’m thankful for him. He’s my boy.
Treat — lamb lahmajoun
I fabricated lamb yesterday for a wedding that we’re catering and I ground a portion of the fat and some of the meat and we made lahmajoun with it — minced meat on lavash with a little bit of tomato paste, onions, and cilantro. We wrapped it with some fresh herbs and tomatoes, and it was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. This is 100% a menu item in one of my future restaurants.
*Eventually, Plugs will be paywalled. But for now, The Angel is entirely free. :)
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