WASHINGTON – It was about seven years ago. “Can we meet at an Armenian restaurant?”, asked Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, in an email. I was looking forward to interviewing the prominent Armenian internet entrepreneur, and Alexis had kindly agreed to meet during his upcoming visit to Washington. He wanted to meet at an Armenian cafe. Guess what my answer was: I am sorry, Alexis, but there is no Armenian restaurant in Washington. For years, I had to repeat this type of exchange. Why was there no Armenian café or restaurant in the US capital, when Armenian cuisine is so delicious and the Armenian community is so well organized?
When Arman and his wife Stella moved to Washington nine years ago, this awkward situation drew their attention too. “An Armenian cafe was long overdue, said Arman, when we sat down for an interview in his recently-opened cafe in Adams Morgan area of Washington, D.C. They started their preparations about a year ago.
In May of 2021, social media broadcast the long-delayed update: an Armenian cafe and market called Yerevan would be opening in Washington very soon. “Not only Armenians come,” Arman continued. “Ever since we set up Yerevan, people from the neighborhood or tourists have been frequent visitors.” Armenian coffee, yogurt drink, lavash, gata, lahmajoon, qufta, eggplant caviar, honey-cakes, and perhaps the most popular of all, Artsakh’s authentic flatbreads stuffed with herbs, are served here. Americans learn how to pronounce the latter’s name, zhengyalov hatz as, they like the organic herb-stuffed bread rolls.
“Everyone likes them a lot. It’s natural [and] delicious. It’s not uncommon when we are sold out of them,” Arman added. Indeed, it’s hard to find chercherok, semsemok, tetapashar, and all these ingredients with strange Armenian names in the United States. However, Yerevan’s bakers try to get as close to the authentic ingredients as possible.
The market section also offers natural juices, preserves, herbal teas, Armenian coffees, and souvenirs for sale. The music played here is mainly Armenian, with the walls decorated with images of Yerevan’s Cascade and other notable constructions next to photos of ordinary people sitting in their yards in Yerevan.
“We plan to deliver more variety. Stay tuned for new additions to our menu and market selection,” Arman noted.