Walk Bike Glendale Tours Yummy Armenian Pastry Shops
Last Saturday, Walk Bike Glendale hosted its second Pastry Walk event. Walk Bike Glendale advocates for a safe places to walk and bike in the city of Glendale. They host events and workshops, and press the city for new facilities, including Glendale’s Glendale Narrows Riverwalk park and its new planned bridges, and future bike lanes being studied for Chevy Chase Drive. Walk Bike Glendale recently became a local chapter of the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition.
Glendale is the third most populous city in Los Angeles County. The city has a genuine popular walkable downtown, but is more characterized by its car-centric suburbs. With elected leadership and a County Public Health PLACE grant, the city made some good strides toward encouraging walking and bicycling, but Glendale hasn’t quite embraced livability enough to be considered among of L.A. County’s livability leaders.
The city of Glendale is home to one of the largest Armenian populations in the United States; roughly 40% of Glendale’s population is Armenian. This means Glendale is also home to a significant density of great Armenian bakeries.
Walk Bike Glendale’s Pastry Walk only covered two city blocks, Glendale’s East Broadway from Chevy Chase Drive to Belmont Street, but visited four different bakeries there. I found them all to be excellent.
1. The Lahmajun Factory – 1139 E. Broadway, Glendale
The atmosphere wasn’t much (think it is as the Armenian equivalent of Burger King), but Lahmajun featured delicious hot-out-of-oven savory treats. The triangular spinach beorek was filled with spinach, but not just spinach – spiced, tangy delicious spinach filling. Also good was the string cheese-filled beorek.
2. Oledina’s Cake Factory – 1128 E. Broadway, Glendale (image above)
Oledina’s felt as though it were the most fancy of the businesses the tour visited. Their featured treat was very very delicious - Armenian Baklava. I highly recommended it. It’s similar to other baklava I’ve tasted, but seemingly less sticky and with a great fresh hint of citrus, from their use of rosewater. Lots of other great pastries there, mostly sweet, but some savory too. (In livability carnage news, this bakery, located deep inside a strip mall, was the site of a tragic car vs. building collision in 2013.)
3. Cafe de Jour French Pastry – 1017 E. Broadway, Glendale
The name may be French, but this boutique bakery’s delicious specialties are Armenian sweets. Cafe de Jour’s visit featured samples of gata – a round sweet flat bread, with a hint of a custard flavor. The shop owner told us about a special Armenian gata tradition that takes place on the Miginink holiday, midway between Lent and Easter. Gata loaves are baked with a coin (here, typically, a dime or penny) inside. The family member who finds the coin in her or his piece of gata will have a lucky year ahead.
4. Van Restaurant & Bakery - 1000 E. Broadway, Glendale
By this point, even with walking in between the establishments, I was already feeling somewhat sated. Van Bakery also felt fairly fancy. Their offerings include plenty of sweet and savory. The most delicious item I sampled there was a sort of layered filo dough cream puff. Also tasty was their crisp sugar cookies. They have plenty more, sweet and savory, and do catering.
Kudos to Walk Bike Glendale for bringing foot traffic to these great local businesses.