>> Hovik's Famous Meat & Deli | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Hovik's Famous Meat & Deli

ARMENIA 🇦🇲
Chatsworth Street facade

COVID-19 UPDATE: This is a grocery store and meat market, so all orders are for takeout. There is one table in the front if you want to eat immediately.

The Valley (or is it all of LA?) seems to be full of tiny strip mall parking lots that are crawling with drivers who have no business operating vehicles, all busy navigating their tank-sized SUVs into spaces labeled "compact." The lot where Hovik's lives takes it to another level, with each business reserving just three spaces and the others supposedly off limits. Want freshly butchered meat? You better not take those spots for the dentist.

In reality, it is probably easier to park on the side street and walk around the corner. The side of your car will thank you for avoiding another dent. Once you navigate all this and enter the market, you are greeted by a couple rows of various Armenian, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European groceries, but that stuff is all secondary as everyone is here for the meats.

Pastries sometimes available on weekends or holidays

Sometimes there are pastries, especially on weekends and holidays. While waiting for a big takeout order recently on a Sunday (bonus on this day the dentist is closed, freeing up three precious spaces!), the lovely proprietor handed over a sweet gata (above) to pass the time.

She and her husband have been running Hovik's for over a quarter century now, and you will never come in and not see one or more likely both. If you are not Armenian and grab one of the Aragats lemonade bottles from the back fridge, you will hear a thorough history of its importance.

Pork shish kabob plate with rice, salad, and hummus

While you may not know it from being inside, the words "Lunch" and "Kabab House" adorn the window and hint towards the possibilities of a prepared meal. You can take a look at all the meats butchered and ready to take home for grilling, but if you are hungry check out the small menu posted at the register to see the many options for kabob plates that they can prepare for you in about 20 minutes.

Kabobs are made all around town and in a variety of methods, but make sure to take advantage of the pork options only offered by decidedly non-Halal Armenians when visiting their establishments. Plates like the pork shish kabob ($14.99, above) all come with white rice, a sharp salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers spiked with lemon juice, and cumin-laced hummus.

Babyback ribs over rice

Lula kabobs are here and tasty enough, but since they are everywhere and probably even better in many places, stick with more pork orders like the babyback ribs plate ($15.99, above). More rare orders like this are where the little shop starts to shine, the fatty cuts of pig ribs seasoned and grilled to perfection.

If you do not require rice and the sides for every order, you can buy most of the meats cooked served alone. The shop also offers a few wraps, which toss in tomatoes, parsley, onions, and jalapeños with the meat. In the mood for deli meat sandwich like turkey or mortadella? They can make that too.

Lamb shish kabob over rice

But you are more likely to stick to what the shop does best, plates like the lamb shish kabob ($15.99, above), again marinated and grilled just right. The lamb pairs very well with the hummus and salad, so make sure to order some if you grab this skewer.

The sense after a few meals here is not that it is blowing you away, but rather that you have come over to your grandparents house and they have cooked for you. It is familiar, and plentiful, and good. It is comforting and makes you very happy.

Armenian lemonade, rosehip juice, and Slovenian sour cherry syrup

After finishing the cookie, stroll around and see some of the products you may enjoy. The aforementioned Aragats is almost like drinking syrup, so wait until you can pour it over ice unless pure sugar water is your thing. Interesting juices like rosehip are also imported from Armenia and ready for you to try.

If you make your own sparkling water at home, places like this are great to stock up on Eastern and Central European made syrups, always drastically cheaper (and tastier) than the bespoke companies that target the Soda Stream crowd.

📍 17660 Chatsworth Street, Granada Hills, San Fernando Valley

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