1. Ponchik Monchik - Gyumri
If you find yourself volunteering in Gyumri or want to take a trip to the second largest city in Armenia, stop by Ponchik Monchik. This coffee shop at the center of the city has some of the best sweets I've ever had. Ponchik is my favorite as they're chocolate filled doughnuts dusted in powdered sugar. Monchik is the same but filled in vanilla custard instead. They also offer salads, pasta and other savior items but if you've got a sweet tooth like me, you have to stop by for their desserts!
2. Cherkezi Dzor - Gyumri
This place changed my life and I'm not exaggerating. Hands down the best fish house I have ever been to. Getting there is a bit confusing but once you arrive, you're greeted by a pond filled with different kinds of fish (jury's still out if that's the fish we ate). Walking inside, it almost feels like you've transported to a cozy lodge in the snowy mountains. I went with a group of 10 people and even though we over-ordered, there wasn't much left at the end. Order any of the whole fishes; trout, sterlet or sturgeon. We devoured the fish barbecued and fried accompanied by roasted potatoes and rice. This place is a must; everyone and anyone who finds themselves in Gyumri has to dine here or I'll find you and drag you there myself.
3. Aregak Bakery - Gyumri
Homemade baked goods, tasty sandwiches and for a good cause? Someone say it ain't so! Aregak Bakery is a cute cafe that employees mentally handicapped youth. "We provide a place for disabled young adults to show their abilities and develop new skills in an inclusive and barrier-free environment, all providing you with delicious bread, pastries and coffee." I call that a win win! In partnership with Emili Aregak Center, the bakery is cozy and a great place to enjoy amazing treats all while supporting a non-profit.
4. Anteb - Yerevan
So I guess I've been living under an Armenian rock because why did NO ONE tell me about manti? Whatever, I forgive y'all but I went to Anteb on a Friday night with a group of friends and let. me. tell. you. Whatever manti is exactly it does not matter because I practically died and went to heaven. Even though I've only had this dish once, and others have said this is the place for manti, it's incredible. We also ordered hummus, various salads and the zaatar pizza and everything was so tasty. It has a fun and inviting atmosphere, a great wine list and we all had a blast. 11/10 recommend.
5. Dolmama - Yerevan
If you want to have a fancy night out I would make a reservation at Dolmama. When my parents came to visit me we went here for a late dinner and this place was so good. It has such a warm and homey atmosphere, the type of place where you would want to eat and sip wine for hours. With the help of our waiter we ordered dolmas, Ishkhan trout carpaccio, poached bone marrow as our appetizers. For our mains, my dad had the mulberry khorovats, mom ordered a bowl of sepas soup and I enjoyed stuffed eggplant with peppers. For dessert the waiter brought over Baklava Dolmama with a complimentary ice cream. The entire meal was divine. It is upscale and more expensive than most restaurants in Yerevan. If you have a special occasion or celebrating something, this is the place!
6. Lavash Restaurant - Yerevan
There's a reason this is the #1 best rated restaurant on Tripadvisor. Even though this place seemed like a touristy restaurant, everything my family and I ordered was delicious. We all shared appetizers and mains; pumpkin soup, khinkali, dolma with cabbage, salmon salad, and finally the lamb shank. I rarely eat lamb but here I can make an exception because it was so tasty. The waiters were friendly and understood English which was great! I thought the prices were pretty cheap and for a low price the food was yummy!
7. Tavern Yerevan - Yerevan
Another classic Armenian restaurant, Tavern Yerevan is such a fun place to dine. I had no idea that it was a themed restaurant but all looks aside, the food and atmosphere is awesome which is what most diners come for. There was live music, people dancing and singing, and a woman was making homemade lavash! We ordered the waiters "favorites;" spas, dolma with minced meat, and traditional barbeque. We also had drank homemade compotes and Karas wine which paired with our food perfectly! If you're looking for a fun place to enjoy great Armenian food, make a reservation here! It's always packed and you will have the best time.
8. Dargett Craft Beer - Yerevan
Ok, so this place isn't just a restaurant but a super cool brewery! They serve over 15 types of craft beer, all expertly created with high-quality ingredients. If you aren't a very knowledgeable beer person like me, don't worry! The first time I went I got a flight of beers because I couldn't choose between the 'Catcher in the Wheat,' or the 'Cherry Ale.' After that, I always ordered the Cherry Ale because it's that good! Even though it offers amazing beer selections, don't sleep on the food. It gives off a sports bar vibe, without the actual loud sports, so they offer pizza and wings as well as salads and quick bites. Dargett can be very crowded, especially on the weekends. If you're a big group, be sure to reserve a table in advance. Check this place out!
9. Tsavatsots - Lake Sevan
I'll be honest, I haven't eaten here before. But when I asked my host sister for the best places to eat in Armenia, she said here. Inga recommends trying the fried fish gata/cake, khash, sweet gata and baklava. Inga says that everything she has tried there is delicious but those are her favorite. If an Armenian thinks this place is the best, we have to trust her! She says that they have a beautiful location, right off shore of the beach at Lake Sevan. It's best experienced during the summer months where you can watch people swim and enjoy the sun. Looking at photos on the internet makes me wish I have the time to visit this lake and restaurant so I guess I'll just have to be back again!
10. Zakyan 3, Apt. 75 - Yerevan
Alright this one is kindof a joke, but I swear my host family makes the best food in Armenia. Hands down, no questions asked. Want tradition Armenian cuisine? Coming right up. Classic dishes with some Russian and Middle Eastern influences? Say no more. My two favorite savior dishes Narine and Inga make are meat and vegetable filled blinchik and whole roasted fish. She fries the blinchik to perfection and the filling is divine. The fish competes with my #2 on the list because it has the same amazing taste. Lemons, peppers, green onion and herbs are stuffed inside the fish. The aroma consumes the entire house and I hope I never forget that smell. Now for her incredible sweets. Narine made syrniki for me the first weekend I was in Yerevan and she has continued to make them for me every Sunday. They are Russian-influenced pancakes made with cottage cheese and typically paired with sour cream and jam. I cannot rave about these things enough. They're chewy and sweet, but tangy from the sour cream. OMG when I die, bury me in syrniki. Even though this all sounds delicious, don't show up to my host family's house. That's weird. And it'll be awkward. Sorry not sorry you can't eat the same food I eat everyday!
So I was only in Armenia for about 3 months but I can assure you this list is perfect for those who want to experience the cuisine. Each restaurant offers a different take on the classic food in this country as well as their influences from different parts of the world. Check these places out and you won't have a bad meal in Armenia!