On a Saturday night at Pardis Persian restaurant in Glendale, customers gather behind the host’s stand placed between the sparkling bar and glass wall filled with wine bottles. The host, often General Manager Armie Titus, greets customers with a slight bow as a sign of respect. Gradually, the tables in the elegant dining room, reminiscent of a CB2 furniture store, fill up with diners, many of whom will stay for hours, patiently taking their last bites of colored rice, dark green sabzi topped with stewed herbs, and generous trays of perfectly formed cuppedia, before finishing their meals.
Before opening, Pardis flaunted a sign of gold lettering for more than 10 months promising to replace Glendale Avenue’s Persian restaurant, Café Bahar. Pardis founder Henrik Nazarian, an Iranian-Armenian restaurateur and franchisee of more than 20 IHOP restaurants in Texas and Ohio, had a plan to create a new type of Persian restaurant in Glendale, a city already home to a rich array of Middle Eastern establishments, each with its fiercely loyal customers. While other Nazarian restaurants are classic American restaurants that emphasize uniformity through breakfast fare and other everyday dishes, he wanted Pardis to become a new dining destination.
With about 40 percent of the population in Glendale being of Armenian or Armenian-Iranian descent, Persian food is in high demand. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the fall of the Shah, many Iranians and Iranian Armenians settled in Los Angeles and nearby cities such as Glendale, creating their own communities and focusing on food as one of the most important ways to preserve their cultural identity. Over time, restaurants like Raffi’s Place, Shamshiri, and Shiraz Glendale have made it one of the best places for Persian food in Southern California, adding to the wealth of Lebanese, Greek, and Armenian restaurants serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines in the city.
Pardis fully opened in April 2021 and has already become the busiest Persian restaurant in the city. An astonishing mix of Armenian, Persian and English dialects resonate throughout the venue as customers order from its extensive menu. The older guests nodded in agreement while the younger ones let their enthusiasm fade with the arrival of each dish, proof that these dishes can please every generation. “We chose Glendale because of the Armenian population, the Iranian-Armenian. “They really understand the culture and the food,” Miller says. There is still a warm sense of hospitality, even for first-timers and those who may not be well versed in Persian cuisine.
The dining room’s mix of glass doors, black tablecloths, black leather dining chairs, and wood-panelled walls adorned with abstract paintings by Aram Sevoyan brought in by Nazarian’s wife from Armenia creates the ambiance befitting a modern L.A. restaurant. The decor contrasts starkly with the utilitarian and often traditional vibe, and features the cultural accents or the white tablecloths of other Persian restaurants in Los Angeles. Pardes’ backyard, which has tall sacred trees and lush bougainvillea with a warm fire pit in the middle, seats up to 100 people. The patio helped keep the restaurant afloat when it only had outdoor seating.
Chef Pardis Payam Yousefpour began his career by opening restaurants in Iran, although he was eventually banned from working or hiring staff because of his religion. Yusufpour follows the Baha’i beliefs, an unrecognized religious minority considered “unclean” by Iran’s theocratic Islamic government. The chef moved to Armenia 10 years ago, where he ran a Persian restaurant in Yerevan for a year before immigrating to the US Over the past nine years, he has been working in Los Angeles restaurants, picking up new technologies and learning how to design a menu for customers. tastes. But everything goes through his family first; They try the dishes and give their approval before he makes any additions to the menu.
Like other Persian restaurants, meals at Pardis begin with free flatbread usually served with cold bits of butter, raw onions, and basil. In Pardis, baker Gurdip Singh makes taffetan, a traditional Iranian and Pakistani bread that is light and crunchy with charred corners and made in a clay tandoor oven. Singh uses a recipe he learned in Punjab to produce over a thousand loaves a day here. Taftan is best accompanied by paneer sabzi, slices of feta cheese served with walnuts and seasonal herbs, although in the warmer months the dish can come with colorful cucumbers, crunchy radishes and ripe tomatoes.
Koobideh, beef barg and soltani are the most famous Pardis dishes. “There is a saying in Persian: ‘When you go to a Persian restaurant and you want to know how good it is, you must try the kobideh,’” says Mehrdad Syachman, Pardis’ luxury manager. Beef and chicken in a marinade are softened with earthy fenugreek and light citrus flavors that make it the perfect tender. “It’s all about the right dressing,” says Yusufpour, who developed all the recipes with the memory of his mother’s cooking. “But the menu goes beyond kebabs. Chicken Vizingon, served with walnut puree and pomegranate sauce, is stuffed with rich-flavored saffron rice. The rice pilaf highlights barberry, saffron, cinnamon and herbs.” Fresh khorches (stews) add contrast with meat, bread and rice.
The restaurant offers a good selection of local and imported wines from Armenia to South Africa. Karas, Berdashen, Koor and Trinity are well-known names that represent Armenian wine. It is made from authentic varieties like areni and voskehat and grown in volcanic soil and crafted in ancient vessels, highlighting 6000 years of Armenian winemaking traditions.
For sweetening, try okra, which is a deep-fried paste covered in rose water and served with tea in small cups. Although the small portions of tea are meant to limit the amount of fluid one drinks after a rich meal, it also offers diners a chance to enjoy the space after dinner, from the chattering crowds to the smooth jazz soundtrack.
Although Pardis has been established as one of the best new Persian restaurants in Glendale, Nazarian wants to push the boundaries of what it can be, with the team discussing turning their backyard into a live jazz and cigar lounge after 9pm – the kind of destination Late at night this part of Glendale is sorely lacking. For now, Pardis content themselves with serving stellar kebabs, stews, pilafs and bagels while maintaining one of the city’s most elegant dining rooms and patios, a winning recipe that Glendalians eagerly embrace with pleasure.