Finding good kebabs in Los Angeles isn’t a struggle if you know where to look. After all, LA has the largest Armenian and Persian populations outside their home countries, to name just two cultures known for skewered meats. In Glendale alone, restaurants like Mini Kabob, Hamlet’s Kitchen, and Art’s Bakery all grill exquisite skewered beef, chicken, lamb, and pork. Meat markets — culinary pillars in communities like Glendale and North Hollywood — often sell the best meat, which they butcher and marinate in-house, typically for people to cook at home.
Some of these markets also cook and serve standout, no-frills kebabs on the premises. They often require minimum orders, making them suitable for larger gatherings. Armenian meat markets frequently have larger selections than restaurants, with some places preparing five different types of lule along with prized cuts like pork jowl, sweetbreads, and even certified A5 Wagyu beef. Here are six notable Armenian markets in Glendale and the San Fernando Valley that cook kebabs and warrant advanced planning.
Haig’s Kabob House
Taxidermied 13-point buck and African wildebeest heads hang on white subway tiles in this family-run North Hollywood butcher shop, which has operated here for 25 years and dates to 1930 in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. Third-generation proprietor Haig Toukhlajian now runs the business with son Daniel, who vividly remembers driving to the market with his father before dawn when he was 7 or 8 years old. It’s popular for catering, but best known for selling luxury items like Kobe beef from Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture and A5 Wagyu beef from Miyazaki.
Other notable options include Iberico pork spare ribs and racks, Australian Wagyu tomahawks, and marinated meats like Wagyu flap, sweetbreads, and calves’ liver. Beef is the only lule (ground meat) they offer. Haig’s devotes freezer space to specialty items like Vietnamese frog legs, Muscovy duck, Texas quail, pouisson (young chicken), squab, and beef brain. A countertop fridge holds Pava sturgeon caviar and Kaluga caviar. They also sell lavash (thin flatbread popular in Armenia), dried mountain sorrel, and assorted grilling implements for home cooking, since the majority of customers grill the meat themselves.
They’re able to cook anything in the case on a gas grill in the large kitchen, but require a 10-pound minimum (or 3 pounds for lule) and advance notice, since grill space is often booked due to popularity within the Armenian community. They packed my beef lule skewers atop lavash with sumac and parsley-dusted onions.
To complement meat, they stock a fridge with appetizers like labneh, hummus, and eggplant caviar. Olive salad is Daniel’s favorite kebab accompaniment, a chunky, spicy, and tart salad that combines black and green olives, jalapeños, dill, garlic, lemon, pepper, and oil.
12912 Vanowen St., North Hollywood, (818) 764-4244, www.haigskabobhouse.com
Dvin Meat Market
“No rice, just meat.” Lurick, the friendly woman who handles the front of house and goes by “Lolo,” answered the phone and made their focus clear. Hermine Abrahamyan’s side-street Glendale butcher shop has been open for over two decades. Dvin refers to Armenia’s ancient capital. They don’t have a menu, but chef Artur Malkhasyan will cook anything in the case (preferably with advance notice) on a gas grill in the back. A poster of animal diagrams and photos above the meat grinder depicts various beef, veal, chicken, lamb, and pork possibilities. Dvin’s case displays over two-dozen cuts, including veal short ribs, beef rib-eye, lamb rack, five types of lule, and both lamb and beef liver. Some meats are available by weight, others by the skewer. Based upon my three experiences, there are no wrong choices.
Highlights include firm, savory pork jowl flaps, pork ribs, and boneless marinated chicken thigh. The lule is a joy to eat, including luscious lamb, beef, and rarely seen herb-flecked pork. Orders arrive in aluminum trays or Styrofoam containers atop lavash with raw onions. True to Lolo’s word, there’s no rice, so program the timer on your Zojirushi accordingly.
107 S Adams St., Glendale, (818) 547-4454
Tigranakert Meat Market
Anna Ivanyan replaced Karabagh Meat Market behind a Van Nuys storefront in 2017. Her great grandmother’s parents were from near Tigranakert, an ancient city that Armenian king Tigranes the Great founded that’s now part of Turkey. Its logo, two eagles bracketing the sun, is a callback to Armenia’s ancient Artaxiad dynasty and to Tigranes the Great, who used this crest.
Chef Sammy Stefeney moved from Moscow three years ago and cooked in restaurants once he arrived, but prefers the pace at Tigranakert, where he started in October. After discussing my options with him, I settled on a customized combo plate featuring marinated sweetbreads, beef lule, and marinated iki bir (pork belly). They whisk away kebabs to a commissary kitchen across the parking lot, where they grill over smoldering charcoal, which can take 30 to 45 minutes. While waiting, watch Armenian music videos on the TV or explore the market, which features a wraparound fresco that resembles a village scene. Tigranakert inventory includes sausages, spices, and Armenian cheeses like Lori, a brined cow’s milk cheese “from the Alpine zone.” By the entrance, they sell akhtsan (salads) while photos advertise whole fish, pork shank, and whole roast pig, all special orders.
When Stefeney returned with my bespoke $20 plate, it also included rice and the two colorful sides we discussed: sweet, creamy shredded beet salad with crunchy crushed walnuts and ikra, a smoky eggplant dip that he rightly recommends pairing with kebabs.
6412 Matilija Ave., Van Nuys, (818) 781-4411
Ararat Fish & Meat Market
Mount Ararat, a dual-peaked volcano that’s now just over Armenia’s border in Turkey, but used to be part of ancient Armenia’s Bagratuni Dynasty about 1,000 years ago, inspired this Glendale market approximately three decades ago. At that point, fish and meat may have shared equal billing at this Maple Plaza storefront, but in the five years since Artur Vardanyan took over the business, fish has become the clear focus.
A display case touts everything from smoked fish like whitefish, salmon, trout — which Vardanyan describes as “delicious with potato” — and vobla, a smoked and dried fish from Russia with roe still attached that he recommends for drinking. He buries whole red trout in an ice bed, files sturgeon slabs in a white bin, and stocks the freezer with whole coiled sturgeon. Not much meat is in sight other than packaged basturma, sujuk, and quart containers filled with khash (cow’s feet soup).
Vardanyan is happy to let customers cook at home and even sells mesquite bags by the front door, but he accepts advance orders to cook fish on his gas grill and in an oven in Ararat’s back kitchen. Marinated sturgeon filets were available for sale. “Very delicious,” he proudly exclaimed. “Nowhere else in Los Angeles is it like this.” I ordered three thick-skinned sturgeon filets at 1:30 p.m. and picked them up at 5 p.m. He said, “You’ve never had food like this,” serving the firm, flaky fish with lemon wedges and seasoned, grilled skin-on potato wedges with creamy centers. Vardanyan also grills salmon filets and bakes whole trout and sturgeon.
620 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, (818) 240-3727
Elite Bakery & Market
Hakop Basmadjian and son Armen debuted this dual threat in November 2019 in a North Hollywood strip mall, replacing neighborhood stalwart Anush Bakery & Market. They previously ran the nearby Famous Market from 2015 to 2019.
A butcher shop in the back will grill anything in the display case for customers who place a 2-pound minimum order. Skewers cook in an open-mouthed gas oven with flames on top and water-filled steam trays on the bottom, which acts like a DIY combi oven, grilling and steaming at the same time. During my visit, both Armen and his father’s friend Ashot handled the grill.
My order included beef flap meat that accordions when cooked, marinated with red pepper and onions. Signature hot wings were marinated in a pink slurry that includes red pepper, oil, and hot sauce, and turns red when grilled. They also sell two kinds of beef lule, both marinated with red onion and beef fat: plain and an herbaceous version that incorporates minced mint and parsley. In all cases, salt and pepper is a given in the marinade. They also sell bone-in salmon and sturgeon cross sections, Korean short ribs, beef liver, Frenched lamb rack and Iberico pork rack. No matter what you order, they serve skewers atop pita either with or without white onions.
Meat is a major focus, but Elite also stocks a case by the register for house-made cakes like honey (meghratort), chocolate (Mikado), mujskoy ideal, and walnut cake. House bread loaves, rounds and squares rest on racks. A market case features different salads, dips, cheeses, olives, as well as sliced meats like basturma, sujuk, and marinated pork fat. Stock up while you’re there.
6770 Coldwater Canyon Ave., North Hollywood, (818) 759-4747
Sipan Meat Market
It’s all about meat at this brick-fronted Glendale market from Varuj Tahmazyan and family. The business offers larger catering orders, $160 for 10 people with “mix barbecue” and an assortment of sides — though plates, salads, and sandwiches take up the bulk of their LED menu. A gas grill by the window cooks meats like pork ribs, chicken thigh, and beef lule, which are all solid. Plates come with rice; red-pepper-dusted hummus; grilled tomato and pepper; and a light tomato, lettuce, and cucumber salad. They were out of lamb heart, but made me an iron-rich beef liver sandwich, with substantial burgundy chunks tucked into lavash with minced parsley and onion, that will give your jaws a workout.
A fridge by the entrance features house-made salads and dips that pair well with meat, including red kidney beans, yogurt cucumber, hummus, ajika (red pepper dip) and garlic sauce. Sipan also stocks a freezer with specialties like boxed lamb brain and take-and-bake blinchik.
1359 E. Colorado St., Glendale, (818) 543-7344