Lavash. Dolma. Manti. Basturma. Baklava.
Either you’re now full-on drooling or you’re confused by that collection of seemingly non-sensical words – meaning you have yet to be exposed to the wonders of Armenian cuisine. Either way, with Armenian food “week” around the corner (more on that later), The Bubble is here to help. Stemming from a tradition as old as the Caucus nation itself, Armenia’s food is known for its flavorful herbs, delicate lamb, and ubiquitous eggplant.
This is the definitive guide to indulging in the authentic cuisine right here in Buenos Aires without traveling halfway around the world (or traveling at all, really). Thanks to three mass migration waves throughout the 20th century, Argentina now holds the third largest population of Armenian nationals outside their home country. The community is estimated to be 80,000 strong, with the vast majority living in Buenos Aires, and has brought a wide array of culture, tradition, and most importantly for us, food. The following are our picks of the best Armenian restaurants in Buenos Aires.
If you’ve only heard of one Armenian restaurant in BA, our guess is it’s probably Sarkis. For many locals and visitors alike, Sarkis and Armenian food have become synonymous, with the restaurant often seen as the one and only go-to for the cuisine. That view is far from the truth, but Sarkis, situated in Villa Crespo, has no doubt well-earned the heaps of praise it receives. If you don’t arrive at 8 PM sharp, be prepared to wait – and wait – for a table (though, of course, the food will be well worth it).
Like with almost all the restaurants on this list, we recommend trying it out in a large group – that way you can get a taste of everything by ordering half the menu and sharing family-style. Vegetarians will be delighted by Sarkis’ take on Mediterranean staples like hummus, baba ganoush, and tabouleh, while meat-lovers can get their hands dirty by sampling a few kebabs or their insane carne al fierrito drenched in yogurt. Before taking off toward the bustling bar and boliche scene a short walk away, we’d try their authentic Armenian coffee. It may have the consistency and appearance of mud, but its high-caffeine concentration is sure to kickstart your night and keep you dancing ’til dawn.
Sarkis | Thames 1011 | $$ | Tel: 4772-4911 | 12 PM – 3 PM, 8 PM – 1 AM | Cash only | More Info
Unión General Armenia de Beneficencia (UGAB)
For the most authentic experience possible, take a stroll through Palermo toward Plaza Armenia, down the street of the same name, and join the Armenian locals at UGAB, the cultural center that hosts dinner every Friday and Saturday night. These meals are home-cooked by the mothers and grandmothers of those currently enrolled in their youth program – doesn’t get much more #authentic than that. The youths, meanwhile, serve the food themselves and use the money they earn to travel to Armenia and see where their families came from. The kindred and warmth of the environment truly cannot be overstated, so don’t forget to call ahead to make a reservation – tables go fast.
But to eat like a true Armenian isn’t to subsist off of basics like hummus and stuffed grape leaves alone (though, yes, those are delicious). The cuisine at its best can be one of the most elaborate and exquisite in the world. Experience it for yourself at the UGAB’s Semana de la Cocina Armenia (Armenian Food Week) to be held on Wednesday and Thursday, July 3-4. The organization will be serving up a feast fit for royalty, with AR $2,500 per person, including wines from the Escorihuela.
Trying to explore around Plaza Armenia but it’s not a Friday or Saturday night? Or maybe it is but you’re looking for a less community-center and more chic-restaurant vibe? Head over to Restaurant Armenia, the place whose name says it all, located only a 30-second walk from UGAB and a three-minute walk from Sarkis.
We recommend asking your outwardly-grumpy-yet-overwhelmingly-welcoming waiter for the Picada Armenia as an appetizer – a sampling of eight typical Armenian entradas meant for two people (or picada armenia completa with 1o appetizers if you feel like going all out). Alternatively, indulge in the prix fixe “Menú Erevan,” which includes three mini appetizers, an entree, dessert, coffee, and half a bottle of wine. The restaurant can be a culturally immersive experience in addition to a culinary one, often featuring Kochari dancers or a Duduk (a traditional wind instrument) musician passing between tables to entertain guests.
Restaurant Armenia | Armenia 1366 | $$ | Tel: 4776-2500 | Tuesday – Saturday nights, Sunday noon | Cash only | More Info
Looking for a take-out (or PedidosYa) place for a small budget meal? Check out one of Ararat’s two locations, one in Recoleta and the other in Caballito. Known for their incredible shawarma and falafel, Ararat combines Middle Eastern classics with distinctly Armenian flavors. The space will make you feel like you just stepped off the streets of Buenos Aires and into a small Soviet kitchen, complete with the overpowering aroma of fresh spices. We particularly recommend trying their lehmeyun – an Armenian “pizza,” consisting of a thin round piece of dough topped with spiced minced meat, vegetables, and herbs.
Ararat | Ecuador 1113; Av. del Barco Centenera 274 | $ | Tel: 4963-2316 | Monday – Saturday, 12 PM – 11 PM, Sunday 8 PM – 11 PM | More Info
This is a bonus round because truthfully, Marmara is not in Buenos Aires, but rather a short Mitre train ride away in the northern suburb of Olivos. Still, we couldn’t not include this Turkish-Arabic-Greek, and most of all Armenian, inspired joint. The ambience is cozy in the best way, with only eight tables in the quiet restaurant, and the quality of the food is terrific: we insist you try the subereg – similar to a cheese lasagna – and keppes – think a sorta-meatball, but way better. What Marmara is truly known for, though, is their desserts – honey, orange, and sesame flavors and the incredible baklava are not to be missed.
Marmara | Carlos Gardel 2018, Olivos | $$ | Tel: 4794-9865 | Tuesday – Saturday, 9 AM – 12:30 AM; Monday, 9 AM – 9 PM; Sunday, 11 AM – 2 PM | More Info