Sure, Armenian Lunch Truck’s second location resides in a propane shop parking lot, but the Kirakosyan family prefers charcoal fire to gas. It’s a key differentiator from most kebab spots, and it helps propel the Kirakosyans’ skewers to greatness.
The family relocated from Armenia to L.A. just two-and-a-half years ago, and none of its members had any restaurant experience prior to launching Armenian Lunch Truck. Dad Masis and son Petros were driving for Uber Black and Uber Lux, for example, but they’ve made it work. They know what Armenian people like to eat, and their food’s resonating with people beyond the diaspora.
The Kirakosyans launched their concept in late 2019 on high-traffic Sherman Way in front of Royal Fresh Super Market. Their colorful truck sports colors of the Armenian flag—red, orange and blue—and the family sets up an adjacent charcoal grill on the sidewalk. To end 2020, Armenian Lunch Truck occupied a stainless steel structure with a corrugated metal roof in Propane Spot’s parking lot on an industrial stretch of San Fernando Road in Sun Valley.
Both locations showcase their meat in butcher shop-like display cases featuring marinated, ready-to-grill skewers. North Hollywood has three exclusive items—chicken and pork shawarma and French fries—but other than that, the menus match.
“My father was always good at preparing Armenian food,” Lusine says. “We tried so many different places to eat something, but we didn’t liked it so we decided to do our own recipes.”
The family jointly decided which dishes to feature from their homeland, and Masis developed the recipes. To marinate the meats, he goes simple and savory with salt, red pepper, black pepper, and onions. Screaming-hot charcoal and careful grilling impart beautiful sears and smoky notes to the skewers.
The business really is a family affair. Masis purchases and preps all the meat. His wife Liana and older daughter Arsine execute all the orders. Petros is in charge of shawarma and fields phone orders. Youngest daughter Lusine takes orders at the register and runs their Instagram page.
While neighboring Turkey is approximately 98 percent Muslim, Armenia has an inverse percentage, just 2 percent, so the population is much more open to eating pork. Armenian Lunch Truck skewers and grills the animal’s ribs and cubed belly meat. In North Hollywood, they also spit-roast pork sirloin aboard the truck. Pork shawarma works well in lavash wraps. The soft, thin flatbread cradles crusty pork shavings and spicy tomato sauce folded with chopped tomatoes and onions.
Chicken also gets plenty of love. Wings grace the grill and breast meat powers kebabs and shawarma. Luscious lule—ground beef or chicken—is also popular.
Plates cost $15 and come with grilled tomato and jalapeño, rice, lavash, Armenian salad (featuring cucumber, onion, and tomato), tangy tzatziki (yogurt blended with cucumber), and spicy tomato sauce. Extra skewers cost $8 and are wise investments, since Armenian Lunch Truck tends to leave customers wanting more.
Armenian Lunch Truck; 12811 Sherman Way, North Hollywood; and 9365 San Fernando Rd., Sun Valley, 818-482-7515.
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