REVIEW: Armenian on Washington Avenue in Pasadena - Long
Located on Washington Avenue in Pasadena between Hill and Altadena is a cluster of Armenian food shops. The products offered at these shops range from the freshest produce to exotic chocolates imported from the Middle-East. Here’s a list and a partial review of some of the shops on this block.
Good Food Market – Good Food located on the corner of Allen and Washington is like a middle-eastern Trader Joe’s that offers a nice deli counter with a great selection of olives, cheeses, smoked fish, and deli meats. Their Syrian olives are seasoned with zatar and make a great addition to salads and cheese plates. Fresh bread is delivered Monday through Saturday from local Armenian bakeries like the Colorado Bakery and Stone Bakery. If you go to the store at 8AM you can pick up a loaf of crusty bread that is still warm. Eating this bread with Greek Polanka spread consisting of eggplant/tomatoes/olives along with some haloumi cheese grilled with garlic is heavenly (and all of these products are found in the store!).
The sweets section of this store is amazing. It seems that their selection of sweets (cookies, cakes, candies) can range from Korean choco-pies to German chocolates that you will not find at Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Other exotic sweets also include Russian chocolates, Italian cookies, and Armenian halva flavored cotton candy. Every week it seems like Good Foods gets a variety of new and exciting products.
(A fresh produce section and a meat counter are also in the store. Lebanese wines are also available. Sandwiches, and a garlic spread that can also be found at Zankou is available by the quart. Don’t forget to pick up your hookah here too.)
Good Food Market
1864 E. Washington Blvd
Sarkis Bakery – Sarkis is a chain with locations in Anaheim and Glendale. The stores have a wide selection of baklava but one of the items that stands out is the Aashsani. Aashsani is like a middle-eastern cheesecake. The pastry is made with two slices of rose water flavored spongy rice/cheese cake with a nice thick layer of kashta (thick middle eastern crème fraiche) sealing the two slices together in bliss. Then the pastry is topped off with a generous layer of sweet, crushed roasted pistachios.
1776 E. Washington Blvd.
Patibon Chocolates – Patibon is based in Lebanon and this Pasadena shop is their only shop in the U.S. Recently, Patibon’s has doubled its retail space and it is a traditional middle-eastern chocolate shop selling chocolates, Jordan Almonds, fondant chews, candied fruits that may also be found decorated in elaborate, fanciful wrappings. One of the must try chocolates is the Clemantine. It is candied orange peel and pistachios enrobed in a choice of dark or milk chocolate. For some reason their orange peel is nothing like the chocolate covered candied orange peel from Belgium. The orange peel in the Clemantine is a mouthwatering tart-sweet and tastes almost like candied apricots. If you like chocolate covered pistachios and hazelnuts in gianduja, this place has a good selection. Here’s a link to their corporate website that also describes their chocolates: http://patibon.com/index.aspx
1706 E. Washington
Beoreg Bakery - Here’s a link my experience at the Beoreg Bakery http://www.chowhound.com/topics/80095
Panos Bakery - Panos Bakery offers the softest spinach pie/beoreg with the most flavorful filling of spinach seasoned with sumac and lemon juice. One bite of these beoregs and you’ll want to finish the serving tray. Best time to pick up the beoregs is early in the day when the beoregs are still warm straight out of the oven.
1649 E. Washington
Please note that most of these stores are closed on Sundays.
re: The Oracle
Total agreement here on Good Foods. I think Koko's (basically across the street from Panos) makes the best spinach pie. They also make delicious cheese ones with a little hot pepper, and great olive ones too. They also make them with meat, but we always order those in advance since they rarely have them on hand. Koko's is cleaner than Panos, too. 1674 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104
I prefer Vartans (both the grocery and the produce store combined) to the Good Food Market overall. It's more of a real and broad selection for food shopping, and a more consistent selection. Parking is a little bit sporty when they are busy, and they do get really busy sometimes. The people are always glad to help carry your stuff if you buy a lot, which I sometimes do. It's just a couple little blocks away, on the north side of the street. There are several other businesses along this strip named Vatans.
Vartans Family Groceries
1515 E Washington Blvd
Also, there are a couple bakeries around the corner on Allen that seem to be quite popular. I've only tried a few of all of these bakeries, but it seems I've had a couple people tell me they really love one of the ones on Allen, sorry I can't remember the names of all these bakeries, there are half a dozen or more.