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May 15, 2005 12:24 PM

Elena's Greek Armenian

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After a discussion about which is better: Greek or Armenian food, we decided to try Elena’s, which bills itself as Greek/Armenian.

I called for reservations and evidently reached Elena herself, because she didn’t speak the English. After some commotion, a man came on the line and explained that I don’t need reservations, but if it was crowded just say I talked to him. As it turns out, we didn’t need reservations.

The patio is very nice, surrounded by jasmine for privacy from the street and a wonderful fragrance. It’s pretty low-tech. The furniture has been there a while.

There were lots of entrees to choose from, and all pretty much priced in the $5-10 range. There are a few more expensive, but those are basically combinations of the other stuff.

We ordered, and I quickly realized I should have splurged the extra buck to upgrade my dinner salad to a Greek salad. They add olives and feta, and it’s much more interesting than the regular dinner salad.

As an appetizer, we also ordered a falafel plate, which had 3 falafels and some tahini sauce. It was perfect, as we were 3 people. It was served with hot, fresh pita bread. And this pita bread was not your supermarket pita. The pieces were easily 14” across. I don’t think I’ve ever seen pita that big.

We ordered a variety of kebabs. I ordered the lulu/shish kabob combination. It was a lot of food. It was served with rice, sauce, a roasted tomato, and of course the pita. It was cooked perfectly, but very salty. I didn’t realize how salty it was until I got home and was chugging down water to quench the dry Saharan desert that was my mouth.

The chicken kebab was also quite salty, and was only dark meat. I prefer white meat, so I wasn’t thrilled with this one, but the wife liked it other than the saltiness.

I also like that purplish-black spice that you sprinkle over the rice. They had a shaker on each table, and I was liberal with it on my rice. It just makes it taste more vibrant. What is that stuff?

Overall a good meal, and cheap. We brought home the leftovers and had it for lunch the next day.

Elena’s Greek Armenian Restaurant
1000 South Glendale Blvd.
Glendale, CA
(818) 241-5730

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  1. I think the seasoning you're referring to might be Sumac. I see it in Persian restaurants. Its taste is hard to define -- sort of tart is what I taste. But, you're right -- but it seems to enhance just about anything it touches.

    1. Elena's lentil soup is excellent. It's plush with lentils and has a lemony tang. I usually get it instead of a salad. They have some of the best hummus in the city. It's incredibly creamy and flavorful - just perfect with a wedge of tomato and a chunk of onion wrapped in one of their heavenly pitas. Salt is occasionally overdone with the meat and chicken dishes though - but not really a big problem or great disservice to the dish.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brucelis

        I agree. The lentil soup was very good - and lemony which I love. I tasted the beef, lamb and chicken when I went and would have to say that I liked the chicken the best. Did not notice any over-salting at all when I was there. Beef was over cooked and I am just not that much of a lamb fan.

      2. It sounds like sumac. My local Armenian place (Danny's) puts sumac in their fatoush salad...mmm!

        1. Elena's Greek Armenian made for a very interesting dinner. It's a little campy, facing a major street, but shut off by hedges and plastic covering. The food is very inexpensive--quail for $8.50, everything between $6 and $12. The quail was delicious, as was the gyro meat--charred outside, well-seasoned inside. We were very content, until we got home and had to start chugging water all night long. I thought they added msg, but from the thread, I guess it's sumac, a spice I'm not familiar with. Any info on this ingredient? Thanks.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cfylong

            Turns out that CH has a good description of sumac:
            I have jars of red sumac and za'atar that I really need to get cracking and use.

            Elena Greek Armenian Cuisine
            1000 S Glendale Ave, Glendale, CA 91205

            1. re: DiveFan

              I've read somewhere before that sumac also has beneficial health qualities, similar to many of the spices found in curries (cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, for example are all good for you), including antioxidant properties.

              It sure has a unique taste!