Lebanese/Armenian good stuff in Glendale.
Glendale is a textured neighborhood, filled with contrasts and communities you don’t see in your average city. What can I say, it’s L.A.
I’m sitting in Phoenicia restaurant in and around the heart of Glendale. In fact, as I sit there, waiting for my Sujuk, I’m looking right at the Armenian Consulate.
Armenian-Americans have been living in Los Angeles since the 1920s. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 helped ease access to the States for newer groups, and starting the 1970s, a wave of Armenians came to America, settling in the Los Angeles area, mostly Glendale, but also in Hollywood and Pasadena.
Needless to say, the story is infinitely more complex than that, but this is a Food Blog. We just wanted to give you a taste. There have been several waves of Armenian Immigration, but the most recent was in the 1970s. Since that time, Glendale has grown and changed, with the Armenian community growing from a part of it…to the very heart of it. Phoenicia is a big part of that heart. Business meetings, lunches, parties, they’ve all happened here. Odds are, if you’re Armenian-American, or even know an Armenian-American, you’ve come to Phoenicia.
The first time I saw Phoenicia it was undergoing a major face lift, and this was like years ago. From the outside, I thought it was being built from the ground up. That’s how major. I recently came by for an Party, a fun one, got a gander at what’s going on inside and decided I had to come back for a full on visit.
The first thing you’re going to see is the large open air seating area with the rather imposing stone sail cutting across. It gives the place an exotic feel, but in truth Phoenicia is more of a neighborhood joint than anything.
Phoenicia serves Lebanese/Armenian classics to a audience that knows their stuff. It’s comfortable. The remodel has allowed Phoenicia to be anything it needs to be to whoever shows up at their door and, in this case that may actually be a good thing. They’ve got the space and the speed to do whatever it is they need to do for your dining and entertainment needs.
You come to Phoenicia for business lunches or dinners, or you take advantage of their banquet facilities, they’ve got a nice one on site. Or you can come have a beer after work. The place is popular, as in make a reservation for special occasions look quite popular.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Okay, I’ve been living in Glendale for about 13 years, and I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m coming late to the Armenian grub party. I’ve kinda given up on Zankou Chicken for reasons having nothing to do with their food, which I still like. Walking in Baklava Factory for dessert is always a good idea. I’ve just recently gone to New York Cafe for their Sujuk Sandwich which was awesome. So Phoenicia has to be next on the list.
So, what to get, what to get?
After going over the menu, trying to lock in a main dish, I see something that of course, started me on this course of study in the first place.
Under Hot Appetizers, I see Sujuk (spelled Soujouk at Phoenicia. Man, that’s like a fourth spelling for me.)
Now, Sujuk at Phoenicia is a lot, dare I say, typical. It’s served in a small pan, with air dried sausage and sautéed with onions and tomatoes. The individual hunks of Sujuk taste the as I had at New York Cafe, but you get more of them here. (The point there is a sandwich, and here is to snack on directly). The Onions and Tomatoes cook in the Sausage’s oils and…what can I say. If you like sausage, especially, thick, dense chewy sausage…and who among us doesn’t? You’ll like Sujuk.
For the main course, I went in a slightly different direction.
With Indian Food, I’m trying to stay away form Chicken Tikka Masala. Ordering that is the lazy way out. You want to wander, there are other good things to try on the menu.
Likewise, with Mediterranean cuisine, it’s time to wander away from the Kebabs and Shawarmas. Everyone orders those. What can I get to expand my palette.
So this time, I ordered Beid Kawerma.
Now, Beid Kawerma for those of you in the know (remember, I’m still learning) is a Southern Lebanese dish with strips of beef, eggs, cooked and served in Fakhar. What Fakhar is, I’m not sure. I was told it was a kind of meat, but…again. Learning.
You can think of it as a football shaped Beef Omelette with mild nuts in them.
Yeah, I know Omlete is not fair, because, they cook up the eggs with the yolks whole, and it’s served to you, pan-free in the shape of a flying saucer. It’s a tasty dish, although the flavors are clearly separate. You take in a bite, you’ll taste beef. You’ll taste egg, one or the other. But bottom line, if you love Fried Eggs, you’ll love this.
On a hot summer’s night, I’d recommend a Lebanese Beer.
Yeah, I didn’t know they made them either. It’s brewed by the folks who make Stella, but on the taste scale, as a Pilsner, it’s a toward Korean Hite on the sweetness scale, but not as sweet.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing really surprising. Straight ahead sit down restaurant with a nice outdoor bar. It’s great for parties.
It’s also got a decent amount of Live Music, so it’s also a Nightclub. Look at the hours. Closing at Midnight is early for these folks.
For lunch, it’s pretty east. They have a small narrow lot where you can park. I don’t recommend parking further down Lexington as it’s pretty residential, and…well…you’re not going to find any spots anyway as the street spaces are all taken.
At night, be prepared to cruise into the same lot, only this time to utilize the Valet, which will run you $6 as of publication. You can try to see if you can get a cheap spot along Central, but that might involve you walking a fair bit at night. Just take the Valet. It’s easier.
343 N. Central Ave.
Glendale, CA 91203
Tel: (818) 956-7800
Sunday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 2:00 am