A cuisine that’s remarkably diverse from its north to south, Armenian food isn’t just rich in flavors – it’s rich in history, as well. Presented with modest simplicity, the dishes and wine traditions here, some of the first in the world, can only be understood once you step foot in the country, making Armenia a destination that should no longer be overlooked, especially by gastronomes and oenophiles.
But what is it about Armenian food that’s worthy of a discerning traveler’s attention? And why now? Maybe it’s the explosive flavors that come with every bite. Or the traditions and stories behind even the simplest of dishes, from khash to horats panir. Or this excerpt from cookbook author Lena Tachdjian in Vegan Armenian Kitchen that answers those questions perfectly, “it’s the robust flavor of the local produce – whether it be eggplants, mushrooms, tomatoes, or even just fresh greens and herbs. Armenian cuisine allows for simple meals that highlight these ingredients to shine and speak for themselves.”
While checking out the local restaurants and cafes in Yerevan gives visitors a surface-level introduction to Armenian food, there are far better ways to explore the cuisine – and to do a deep dive into its traditions, techniques, and the people keeping this part of their heritage alive. And that means getting out, getting your hands dirty, and exploring by way of these 11 different culinary experiences in Armenia.
Go on a Wild Food Adventure with 2492
Journey to a land untouched with 2492’s Wild Food Adventures, an interactive culinary experience set in Armenia’s great outdoors where local hosts sit down and share a 3-course meal made with traditional recipes and locally sourced ingredients with interested guests. Here, you won’t just learn about Armenia’s rich culinary traditions and history – you’ll become a part of them. Choose between three adventures: the Areni Cliffs, an Areni vineyard, or the Yeranos Mountains. The Areni Cliffs give you the chance to see endangered bezoar goats with a bird’s-eye view of the 13th-century Noravank Monastery while the Areni vineyard experience gives you the chance to sip local wine in a golden-hued field as the sun sets behind you. Or, lastly, go for the 2492 adventure in the Yeranos Mountains where you’ll be transported to a Martian-like terrain before settling down to a traditional meal among the mountaintops.
Go Foraging at Sona Guesthouse
Dsegh village is one of Armenia’s most sought after escapes and Sona Guesthouse is the perfect stop for hungry travelers passing through. Run by Ashot and Anahit Bezhanyan, the guesthouse is named after one of their grandchildren. With a handful of culinary experiences to pick from, each of them requires putting in some work before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Depending on the season, forage for mushrooms, local herbs (such as hornbeam and malva), berries (including blackberries, rosehip, and cornel), or other plants in the green mountains and forests of Lori. Once you’ve rounded up your haul, Ashot and Anahit will teach you how to make soups, salads, preserves, or juice, the traditional Armenian way.
Make Sasna Klulik at Noosh Guesthouse
In Aragatsotn province, the tiny village of Ashnak is home to Noosh, a guesthouse and restaurant run by local Ani Hovhannisyan and her friend, Gayane Malishenko. The Armenian word for almond, the guesthouse’s name represents the 23 almond trees located on the guesthouse grounds. Noosh offers a deep dive into Sasun culture and cooking, a culture that remains strong today after they were forced to relocate here more than a century ago. Guests are given the chance to try their hand at making sasna klulik, a savory dish made from pickled cabbage, wheat, and spices. If you plan your trip at the right time, you may even have the opportunity to watch performances of yarkhushta, kochari, and other traditional dances while enjoying a meal with your new Sasun friends.
Bury Horats Panir at Old Martiros Guesthouse
Hamlet Yeghiadzaryan and Gohar Babayan are the husband-wife team that runs Old Martiros Guesthouse in one of the oldest villages in Armenia. Created to cater to adventurers looking to take advantage of the new hiking trails developed in the region, the guesthouse not only offers a comfortable place to stay for the night but guests are also greeted with a variety of culinary experiences, such as learning how to make ‘horats panir’ cheese, a buried cheese that originates in Yeghegnadzor, Vayk, and nearby villages. Gohar will show you how to press the cheese into clay pots and add local, hand-picked mountain herbs in between layers to enrich its flavor. You’ll then head to the cellar to store it, where it will remain for 3-5 months before it’s ready to be enjoyed.
Eat the Best of Meghri at Khachats Toun
More of a DIY experience, heading to Armenia’s far south offers the opportunity to experience an entire new world of flavors, fruits, and hospitality. Located on the Iranian border, Meghri’s archaeological finds date back to the 7th-century BC, and the city boasts a food culture all its own. The city is particularly known for its pomegranates, which also happen to be one of the national symbols of Armenia. Travelers will also find olives, quince, persimmons, medlar, kiwi, and more growing in the region.
To really experience the hospitality and food of Meghri, stop into Khachats Toun Heritage Hotel. Founded by local Shahane Khachikyan in her family’s historic home, Khachats Toun hosts guests from all over the globe looking to put their taste buds to the test with some of the finest ingredients from Southern Syunik, including the region’s finest fruit-infused vodkas.
Visit an Armenian Gastro Yard at Yeganyans
A place where guests can really experience the local culture, Armenia’s new ‘gastro yards’ give travelers the chance to taste their way through local dishes, and even take a culinary masterclass while they’re at it. Today, you can find them dotted across various parts of the country, with one in particular in Ashtarak worth seeking out – Yeganyans’ Guest House and Wine Yard. Run by locals Nelly and Sedrak, Sedrak has his own vineyard nearby where he grows more than ten varieties of grapes that he uses to make his own wine. Guests are invited to learn more about this process and will even have the chance to bottle wine to take home with them. While travelers spend time with Sedrak learning about Armenian wine, it’s Nelly’s homemade meals that round out this gastro yard visit.
Taste Armenian Cheese at the Mikayelyan Family Farm
In the small village of Artsvakar in Armenia’s Gegharkunik region, gastronomes will be delighted to find Mikayelyan Family Farm, a family-owned cheesemaking farm that has gained national recognition across Armenia in recent years. The modern facility is a place where you can learn more about caseiculture (the art of making cheese), tour the cheese cellar, and pair the experience with an assorted platter of cheese and local wines. What’s most unique about this experience are the Armenian-centric ingredients highlighted in the cheesemaking process – sample everything from a surprisingly delicious sea buckthorn spread to cheese rinds prominent with cognac, wine, or mint and pick your favorite cheeses to take with you on the road.
Sit Among the Vineyards at Momik Wines
Wine experiences in Armenia are a dime a dozen but Momik Wines offers an experience like no other. The Armenian winery has been in Nver Ghazaryan’s family for nearly half a century, and they focus on growing endemic Areni grapes from the region, which also happens to be where the world’s oldest winery is found. Today, Nver and his wife Narine aren’t just famous for their grapes – the vineyard is a prime example of OneArmenia’s Farm-to-Bottle initiative, a program that encouraged local grape farmers to keep their yield and create their own wines instead of selling to larger manufacturers. For the best experience at Momik Wines, book a wine tasting paired with a small selection of food and sit among some of the world’s oldest vines while sipping on wine made from these extraordinary Areni and Kharji grapes.
Take a Culinary Masterclass at Hotel Mirhav
Located in the heart of Goris, Hotel Mirhav is one of the first hotels built in post-Soviet Armenia. While the feeling here is luxurious without the pretentiousness, it’s the gastronomic experiences the hotel offers that really set it apart from others in the region. Hotel director Gayane Martirosyan teaches eager (and hungry) guests how to make everything from tolma to Armenian plov to zhengyalov hats in the comforts of Mirhav’s spacious kitchen and dining room. Hotel Mirhav can also set up guests with local families to learn how to distill vodka with home-grown mulberries, wild pears, rosehips, and more.
Make Chanakh and Pokhind at Chalet Gyumri
Gyumri is Armenia’s second-largest city and easily one of the most underrated places in the region. A city renowned for its humor, Gyumri also has some uniquely Armenian dishes to show off to visitors, and at Chalet Gyumri guests are given the chance to check them out. Under the guidance of owner Karine Tumasyan hungry guests are given the chance to make her family recipe for chanakh, a Gyumri comfort food made in a clay pot. While the chanakh cooks, Tumasyan continues the lesson, showing guests one more family recipe – this time in the form of the dessert pokhind.
Learn to Make Gata with Legends Guesthouse
Close to Yeghegis in the village Artabuynk, Legends Guesthouse is a family-owned business that combines a masterclass where visitors learn how to make one of Armenia’s favorite sweets, gata, with a trip to the nearby Smbataberd Fortress. While Gata can be found across the country (like in Artabuynk), but with different regional variations, it’s the version from the Upper Azat Valley’s Geghard and Garni that is most famous. Here, visitors will learn how to make gata in a tonir (a stone oven buried in the ground) with the guesthouse’s owner Tamara before taking a short hike with Vardan and Karen to Smbataberd.