>> Oxnard Coffee Shop & Restaurant | Eat the World Los Angeles

Thursday 6 February 2020

Oxnard Coffee Shop & Restaurant


EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (05 January 2024) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
There was almost coffee spat out the day the Los Angeles Times saying that "those unfamiliar" might call khachapuri "Armenian pizza." But that was not the worst of it, which came a few months later when LAist made the decision to call it "Ancient Armenia's stuffed crust pizza." As those of you who have also traveled in Georgia and Armenia can attest, the food is definitely eaten in places in the latter like the capital city Yerevan, but it is definitely not claimed by Armenia.

In fact, Georgian food as a whole enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the USSR, its uniqueness from any other food of Central Asia, the Baltics, or Moscow was savored by most people that had the chance to taste.

The relationship between Georgian food and Armenian food is different depending on where you are in the world or even where you are in the United States. Since the Armenian diaspora is so much larger, especially in Southern California, Georgian food unfortunately only makes appearances here on a few menus in Armenian-owned establishments.

This Armenian-owned establishment does not require travel to Oxnard, but rather Oxnard Street in Van Nuys for a fix of some Georgian foods. Unless you were stopped by the light, it might even be hard to notice that there is much more than diner fare here at the restaurant. The only tip from the outside is a small neon sign that reads "KABOB." Otherwise it would probably only be pancakes and bacon that would stop you.

The menu does indeed have those pancakes, and many omelettes as well as Philly steak sandwiches, double bacon cheeseburgers, and a section for Mexican food. But there are those aforementioned kabobs with many photos on the menu, and something that looks like a boat-shaped bread with eggs cracked open inside. This of course is the ajarski khachapuri ($8.99, above), indeed so Georgian that the tradition of making khachapuri now landed on the list of 48 items of intangible cultural heritage made by UNESCO.

This type is sometimes called adjaruli, named for the Black Sea and Turkey-adjacent Autonomous Republic of Adjara in Georgia's southwestern corner where it comes from. Here at Oxnard Coffee Shop the terrific bread should make anyone proud, so fluffy and full flavor, almost as if you can taste the baking process from beginning to end.

After it arrives, stir the unbroken yolks into the hot mozzarella so everything cooks together into a satisfying and stretchy goo. Legend has it that sailors first created this, with the bread, cheese, and eggs representing a ship, the sea, and sun. As this one was enjoyed, a custom khachapuri was delivered to a customer that had tomatoes and this led to a conversation with the lovely woman that runs the place about all the different custom options she can put together, included bacon and ham Americanized versions. Why not?

The restaurant has been open for 13 years, and by their description and observations during this meal, the chicken kabobs seem to be the most popular item. A delivery order of four was prepared and sent out, and another customer came in for some for pickup. These are of course more on the Armenian side of things, but look amazing, cooked in a specialized kabob oven that has a shelf that can be lowered or raised to get closer to the heat and made to perfection.

With cravings for more Georgian food on this day, an order of the beautifully rumpled xinkali ($8.99, above) could not be avoided. These meat dumplings seem extra handmade here, even haphazard, but in an endearing way. Thankfully they are still delicious, if a little less full of juice than normal.

If you come later in the day, Oxnard has a few draft lines for beer and some TVs. In the past it hung both Barcelona and Real Madrid banners, possibly a spot for watching football on weekends in an informal environment. With a kitchen that is full of people that look like they are both great cooks and great grandparents, not much more could be asked for once that cold beer is in your hand.

VAN NUYS San Fernando Valley
14811 Oxnard Street

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