Ararat in Anaheim is more Middle Eastern than Armenian, really. You won’t find sojouk, but you will find luleh kabob, luscious ground-beef beef skewers. And there is a fine lahmajune, the Armenian pizza, that they bake fresh upon order and thus usually take their sweet time to make. But Ararat’s offerings really don’t veer much from appetizers, three kabobs, and a surprising emphasis on dolmahs—stuffed vegetables common to the Caucasus that are waiting for vegetarians to discover. But the evidence of the second generation’s attention to craft is evident. The in-house metabbal (Armenian babaghanoush) is split into four sections by lines of sumac solely for the sake of appearances; basturma, air-dried beef, is arranged with the care of a Khachaturian composition. The luleh and chicken kabobs do their job, but the filet mignon kabob is actually fabulous instead of an excuse to charge customers more, with an extra rubbing of sumac seeping into the meat and bringing on the heat.
Three restaurants in Anaheim have confounded me for most of my adult life for their ability to stay open. One is Tony's Deli off Anaheim Boulevard, a cubby hole squeezed next to a used-car dealer that has managed to stay in business for more than... More »