When asked about this Armenian-Lebanese-Greek restaurant’s best menu items, the friendly, talkative Chef Tigran replied matter-of-factly, “everything is good.” All smiles and confident about his cooking, the chef recommended all of the menu items, including the bountiful, house made, pre-packaged appetizers (perfect to take home) such as ja-jek (yogurt cucumber) and mutabel (eggplant dip). The fresh Mediterranean grill, which went by another name for seven years, has provided good, healthy food (including salads, kebobs, gyros, and rotisserie chicken) for 30 years – “fresh meat, fresh stuff every day,” said Tigran.
It may take awhile for the food to be brought out after you order at the counter, but find a seat at one of the indoor tables and relax. Chef Tigran never fails to serve a cup of free, hot, comforting lentil soup sprinkled with crunchy pita chips and paprika. As you wait for the good stuff, browse products for sale, including fruit nectar for $1.99, small bags of chips, canned Arizona iced tea, and sodas. Shoplifters need not eat here – a sign declares the premises are under 24-hour surveillance.
The food is worth the wait. Try kufta (savory fried ground beef tucked inside a thick, crispy dough) appetizer. Soujouk (garlic-laden, spicy ground beef skewers in a sandwich or as part of a plate), a spicy entree, hits the spot. The generous quarter chicken plate – juicy, flavorful chicken breast or dark thigh meat with hummus, rice, pickle slices, and salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, and pink radish spiked with freshly ground pepper) does not fail. As for dessert, look elsewhere. An out of place ice cream shop-like area of the restaurant advertises $2 for 4 scoops and $3 for 9 scoops of an unknown brand.
For now, Soumarelo (a combination of the owner’s sisters’ names) Pasadena is the one and only. Another location may open in Marina Del Rey soon. Locals should take advantage of free delivery within three miles and a minimum order of $25. Register your phone number and receive a $5 off coupon for every $50 you spend.
View the full menu here.
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 11am – 9pm, Sat. 9am – 5pm
Price range: $1.99 (mutabel – eggplant dip) to $9.99 (lamb shish kabob plate)