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One of LA’s Best Chefs Has Been Quietly Cooking at a Very Surprising Place

Vartan Abgaryan (71Above, Tommy’s, Cliff’s Edge) has been turning out killer Mediterranean food from an out-of-the-way space in Atwater Village

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Chef Vartan Abgaryan has popped back onto the radar in Los Angeles again, following a quiet winter — and in one rather unsuspecting place. Abgaryan, the longtime culinary star who was most recently cooking out of the former Bouchon space in Beverly Hills, is now on at the Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Momed in Atwater Village. That nine-year-old hidden gem, tucked into a residential area at 3245 Casitas Avenue, seems a far cry from Abgaryan’s previous gigs at places like the soaring 71Above, but the chef says that he couldn’t be happier.

“I have known Alex [Sarkissian, Momed’s owner] for close to 10 years and cannot wait to steer Momed to their next chapter,” Abgaryan tells Eater. “I’m very much looking forward to refining his original vision. I feel like this food and cooking is like a homecoming for me; [it’s] so much more of an honest and heartfelt approach.”

The changes to Momed have been noticeable in recent weeks, with new life in the dining room and a redone menu that includes housemade pita and heavy use of the wood-fired oven. New dishes include a barbecued octopus skewer, a truffled duck liver terrine, and wild mushroom manti served in a skillet. The new menus are below.

A chef in black glasses stares at the camera without smiling while wearing all white.
Vartan Abgaryan.

The food is definitely a homecoming of sorts for Abgaryan, who spent years cooking colorful, personal food at Cliff’s Edge in Silver Lake, where he first began to earn real recognition. He parlayed that into the opening of 71above before jumping around to Venice, Orange County, and the heart of Beverly Hills with Tommy’s last year. What was meant to be a big, scene-y opening from the chef and owner Tommy Salvatore (the longtime manager of Craig’s) never really materialized, with the restaurant closing quietly for all but private events back in November. Now Abgaryan is reincorporating his roots, cooking quality neighborhood food with rich flavors and a California perspective.

“There are talented chefs, and there are gifted chefs,” says Momed owner Sarkissian in a statement to Eater. “Chef Vartan is one of the latter. Under [his] leadership we hope to redefine modern Mediterranean, and set a new standard for contemporary Mediterranean cooking in Los Angeles.”

Abgaryan is cooking now at Momed, with both lunch (Tuesday to Friday) and dinner hours (daily from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. or later) in addition to Saturday and Sunday brunch. He joins up with the Atwater Village restaurant at a unique time for the quiet neighborhood, given its many recent changes. Club Tee Gee has been reinvented as a cool-kid hangout for cocktails and food pop-ups, Morihiro is doing some of LA’s best (and more expensive) sushi, and names like Blu Jam Cafe, HomeState, and Holy Basil Thai have all combined with longtime spots like Dune and Proof to make the area a must-visit dining destination along the LA River.

A tilted metal skewer holding darkly cooked octopus and side vegetables at a daytime restaurant.
Octopus skewer with pomegranate.
Stuffed open-faced dumplings in a skillet on a wood plate at a daytime restaurant.
Manti.

Momed Atwater Village

3245 Casitas Avenue, , CA 90039 (323) 522-3488 Visit Website