Khachapuri, Ancient Stuffed Crust Pizza, Is One Of LA's Hottest Dishes
We heard you. We've changed the headline of this story to better reflect the complex history of the dish. The headline originally read "Khachapuri, Ancient Armenia's Stuffed Crust Pizza, Is One Of LA's Hottest Dishes." In the story, we called khachapuri the national dish of Georgia and mentioned that it originated during the Georgian Golden Age. Of course, stories are always more nuanced than headlines and it's clear the original headline was distracting from our intent — to celebrate this delicious dish. Thank you for your feedback. Stay tuned! We're working on a story in which we'll determine, once and for all, who invented hummus. That shouldn't cause any controversy.
It's the Caucasus cousin of pizza, the national dish of Georgia, the stuffed crust pizza of ancient Armenia. It's khachapuri and it is having a moment.
With its glistening, gondola-shaped boat of chewy dough topped with an egg oozing a perfect string of golden yolk, how could it not? But the dish is nothing new.
Khachapuri predates social media by nine centuries. Its roots stretch back to the 11th century and the Georgian Golden Age, when art, literature, culture and cuisine flourished in the kingdom of Georgia. Before that, a variation of khachapuri may have come from India thanks to traders traveling along the Silk Road. In Los Angeles, the pull-and-tear deliciousness of khachapuri has been delighting Georgian, Armenian and Lebanese communities since the 1920s.
Ajarski, ajarian, ajaruli, adjarakah, hachapuri, egg boats, egg pizza, gondola pizza. Khachapuri has many aliases. It depends on who you ask and what the sign next to the football-shaped bread icon reads.
From the bakeries of Little Armenia and the San Fernando Valley to the restaurants of Glendale and North Hollywood, the dish's endless variations mean you won't have trouble finding a khachapuri to suit your palate.
Need an offering for a friend's Game of Thrones viewing party? Check. Something starchy to soak up that hangover? Check. Late night snack? Appetizer? Comfort food dinner for one? Check, check, check. Here are a few places to find the khachapuri of your dreams.
It's the "turducken of dining experiences." Earlier this year, chefs Armen Piskoulian and Casey Felton opened the stand inside Hollywood banh mi shop Banh Oui. They specialize in fun updates on traditional khachapuri. Crust options include za'atar and everything bagel while kale, cauliflower, mushrooms and shallots are featured fillings. By the way, the success of this endeavour is life or death. Piskoulian sold his burial plot at an L.A. cemetary to come up with his share of the business investment. Hit up the shop before catching a movie at the Arclight, around the corner.
- 1552 N. Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood. 323-645-7944.
Papillon International Bakery
Over the last seven years, Jack and Ella Torosian have built a Los Angeles donut empire that's impossible to ignore. Bite into one of their Nutella-filled Armenian ponchiks, which they've patented, and you won't mind being coated in powdered sugar. Papillon's menu doesn't stop at sweets. They make one of the best classic adjarakans in the city. A crust stuffed with feta and mozzarella encapsulates the eggs, which are dusted with a proprietary blend of spices. They'll ask how well done you want your eggs but they recommend medium. Gregory, one of Papillon's regulars, suggested I pair a couple of adjarakans with a shot of vodka and a glass of red wine. Optional, of course. Every adjarakan is made-to-order and comes fresh from the oven, a process that takes 45 to 55 minutes, so whether you carry out or dine in, call ahead to place your order.
- 5019 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood. 323-953-1100
- 1100 S. Central Ave., Suite F, Glendale. 818-507-0039
- 1817 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale. 747-260-61111
- 2904 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood. 818-761-1848
- 17305 Roscoe Blvd., Northridge. 818-600-2121
If you want to explore Armenian, Russian, Lebanese and Georgian cuisine in a single meal, head to Chef's BBQ in Glendale. Opened in 2018, it's located in a strip mall north of Atwater Village's main drag. Diners can sample regional delicacies such as khinkali (Georgian dumplings), deep fried branzino and four types of circular khachapuri, which are offered here as appetizers. We recommend the bacon made with ham, sulguni (a pickled Georgian cheese) and the best damn dough of any gondola we've tasted. The menu also features a chef's khachapuri (two cheeses and "secret" spices), a plain khachapuri with eggs and a lobiani (a traditional Georgian bread stuffed with red beans).
- 1100 S. Central Ave., Glendale. 818-551-2000.
Armo's makes Armenian and Georgian takeout delicacies in a clean, fast-casual space. Their basturma khachapuri is destination-worthy. For the uninitiated, basturma is cured, seasoned, dried beef, and it's perfect with Armo's dough. The rave reviews their khachapuri receive on Yelp are no lie. Parking is plentiful and Arno's is next door to neighborhood mainstay Maggie's Pastry, where you can grab a perfect Armenian dessert on your way out.
- 6530 Lankershim Blvd., Ste. RS, North Hollywood. 818-821-3382.
After a long morning of searching for the perfect ottoman at the Burbank Ikea, skip the meatballs and make the five-minute drive to Sipan for an ajarski. It serves Armenian classics like boregs (savory triangle pastries filled with ground beef, spinach or feta) alongside a selection of "gondola pizzas." The bakery makes a crunchy version with a thin crust, perfect for eating on the way to your next errand. If the soujouk (sausage) and sriracha ajarski doesn't cure your hangover, it'll at least clear your nasal passages. Other toppings include jalapeños, basturma, shawarma and veggies.
- 1250 W. Glenoaks Blvd. Ste C., Burbank. 818-240-0699.
Old Sasoon Bakery
For Pasadena residents, not visiting Old Sasoon Bakery on the regular is a neighborhood sin. At age 13, Syrian-born Haroutioun Geragosian began working in an Aleppo bakery before opening his own in 1948. He named it Old Sasoon, for the Armenian village his grandparents left after World War II. In 1986, Geragosian brought Old Sasoon and his family to Pasadena where his lahmajunes (ground beef flatbreads) became locally famous. Today, the bakery is run by Haroutioun's son, Joseph, who began working the ovens at age 15. Outside, a sign reads "Abou Yousef," which translates to "Joseph's Father" in Arabic. Old Sasoon is a beacon for Pasadena's Armenian community and the khachapuri is a favorite, especially when topped with soujouk, basturma and jalapeños. They're made to order, which takes time, so call ahead.
- 1132 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena. 626-791-3280.
For a farm-to-table Israeli brunch with modern style and a fresh ambience, check out Jaffa. The vegetarian khachapuri, served with potatoes or a salad, is as delicate as the pretty blue china it comes on. You'll want to try their other bakery delights like their kubaneh (Jewish-Yemeni pull-apart rolls) and phyllo cigar. Brunch is served weekends beginning at 10 a.m. Jaffa also plans to open another outpost, in Palms.
- 8048 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove. 323-433-4978.10306 Venice Blvd., Palms. Coming soon.
Until 11:00 p.m., seven nights a week, you can sit on the patio at Silver Lake pizzeria Wood and watch traffic inch or whizz past on Sunset Blvd. Their khachapuri, listed as a "gondola pizza" on the menu, has a yeasty, wood-fired crust covered in mozzarella, which means the eggs are more cooked than you'll usually see in this dish. Don't be basic. While your friends munch on a Neapolitan pizza, order the Titanic gondola, a delicious but structurally unsound 12-egg khachapuri boat. (Call ahead!) By the way, if you watched the 2013 Academy Awards, you may recognize Wood's owner, Edgar Martirosyan, as the guy who delivered pizzas to Ellen DeGeneres on national TV.
- 2861 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. 323-667-9940.