Skip to content

At Ararat 17, the Middle East meets Russia

Ovik Ayrazyan smiles over a glass of Armenian compote bobbing with fruit.

Tom Hanchett

Tell people that Charlotte has an Armenian restaurant and everyone has the same reaction: “Armenian food, what’s that?”

Imagine Middle Eastern favorites — pita bread and hummus, shish kabob and the like. Next, imagine Jewish/Eastern European/Russian comfort food — borsht, dumplings, beef stroganoff. Got that? Okay, now envision them coming together on the same menu.

Armenia is a country next to Turkey that sits right on a cultural “hinge.” To its south is Iran and the Mideast. To the north lies the former Soviet Union. No wonder that both regions find expression in the Armenian kitchen.

At the Middle Eastern end of the spectrum, try the beef lula kabob sandwich. A Mid East style flatbread arrives piled high with grilled meat plus cucumber, lettuce and tomato. “You can’t have a restaurant in Armenia without lula,” says Vardan Vardanyan, the owner of Ararat 17. He mimes the cooking process: ground beef blended with spices, pressed onto a skewer in a spiral, then seared over charcoal or on a grill.

Blinchik is a special New Year food in Armenia — served year-round at Ararat 17.

Fans of Jewish food may recognize the blinchik, a cousin of the blintz. Each features a crepe rolled tight and flat around a filling — cheese if it’s a Jewish blintz, savory ground lamb or beef if it’s an Armenian blinchik. “When New Year is coming,” Vardanyan smiles, “99% of people in Armenia have blinchik on their table.”

I love dumplings so I had to order khinkali. Big swirls of dough wrapped around a meaty filling remind me of pierogi. “They’re Georgian,” notes Vardanyan. That’s not the U.S. state but rather the wintery mountain country next to Russia.

Vardanyan, who immigrated to Charlotte in 1996, opened Ararat 17 on the edge of Matthews last year, naming it for a legendary mountain peak. He decorated it just like eateries back home, with white tablecloths and stylish bar featuring Armenian wines.

“We’ve become a gathering place for people from all of the old Soviet republics,” says young bartender Ovik Ayrazan. For a sweet accent to your meal, ask him for a glass of non-alcoholic compote, bobbing with cherries and apricots, or gahta, a flakey pastry dessert.

Ararat 17’s beef lula kabob comes on grilled Middle Eastern style flatbread. You can order hummus on the side.

Ararat 17

Tuesday – Thursday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Closed Monday

1361 Chestnut Lane
Indian Trail, NC 28104
(704) 684 – 0107

Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Swiss-German bakery
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico + Greece = holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam
Little corner of El Salvador
Arepas from Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Colombian soup
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Mexican take-out
Mexican Tamaleria
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Ready for Laotian food in Charlotte?
Psst! There’s a European Market hidden just south of Ballantyne
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Nigeria in east Charlotte
Korean BBQ
Brazilian bakery
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Halal Latino
Russian-Turkish Grocery
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews
Russian picnic fare
Armenia in Matthews
Katayef – holiday dessert at Pita Kabab in Matthews
Crispy NJ pizza comes to east Charlotte
Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Family-style Ethiopian
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
Oriental buns
Greek pastries
Bosnian sausages
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions
Guatamala in east Charlotte
Mexican Seafood
You buy – We fry
Dominican Deli
French/Vietnamese pastry arrives in east Charlotte

North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Mexican carnitas
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
Indian Dosa Night
Middle East via Lynx
Bahn Mi Brothers
Ethiopian sandwiches
Turkish near UNCC
BBQ from Pakistan
Find a taste of Hyderabad at Nawabs Kebabs
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Fried baloney
Grits & cornmeal
El Tamarindo
Laos in Kings Mountain
Lawrence Caribbean
Multiple Places & Food Trucks
5 eateries for Black History Month
Charlotte’s International food scene
South’s Love Affair with Soft Drinks
5 Places to “Eat Northern”
Northern Favorites: Six More Eateries
Curry journey: Vietnam, Trinidad, India
Spiedies – Food Truck
5 best bites on Albemarle Road
Lao Sausages – Food Truck
Western Indian – Food Truck
Himalayan flavors – Food Truck
Shaved ice goes global in Charlotte