On the post-Soviet streets of Eastern Europe and Eurasia, the piroshki is the fast food of choice. A fast fried doughy bun stuffed with warm, savory fillings like potatoes, meat or mushrooms, the piroshki boasts just the right amount of dough-to-filling ratio for your eating and holding pleasure.
Lucky for Los Angeles, piroshkis have made their way here, thanks to Armenian and Russian diasporas who have set up bakeries from Van Nuys to Glendale and West Hollywood where they serve up these cultural staples, usually bought a dozen at a time, that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or while you're sitting in traffic on the dreaded 405 and wondering if there's any hope that you will eventually make it home. Just make sure you have napkins nearby.
We've included a list of places in L.A. that make their piroshkis in-house, fresh and piping hot for your eating pleasure. It probably doesn't beat your babushka's (that's grandma to you) fried dough treats, but it does come close.
5. Art's Bakery:
A Glendale staple, Art's Bakery has enough beautifully designed cakes and pastries stretched from wall to wall to rival any Paris patisserie, which makes spotting the piroshkis near impossible, and with good reason: they're brought out fresh from the oven in the back when you ask at the counter. Art's piroshkis come in classic fillings of meat or potatoes and will set you back $1.50 each. Though parking is a challenge and credit card charges carry a $10 minimum (so make sure you bring cash), this quaint bakery on Chevy Chase Drive has devoted customers who come in for more than just piroshkis, but always seem to walk out with a few anyway. 1122 E Chevy Chase Dr, Glendale, (818) 552-5053.
4. Classic Pastry:
Situated in a large strip mall with ample parking on Foothill Blvd, unincorporated La Crescenta's main street, Classic Pastry has been a family-run favorite for years, churning out Armenian, Russian and Iranian pastries and cakes since 2001. While their never-ending counter of bite sized, architecturally assembled and decadent French pastries are sold in droves, a humble selection of piroshkis, made with the perfect fried dough-to-filling ratio are not to be missed. Sold in regular beef or potato fillings, Classic also has a thinner, spicy cheese piroshki that taste best when warmed up in an oven at home. If you're feeling like you need more than a few piroshkis to satisfy cravings, there's also a deli where you can find pastrami, veggie and tuna sandwiches. Meat or potato filled piroshkis are $1.25, while cheese piroshkis are 75 cents. 3910 Foothill Blvd, La Crescenta, (818) 541-9300.
3. Stolichnaya Bakery:.
Overshadowed by a massive Whole Foods in a shopping center with nightmarish parking, Stolichnaya is a Los Angeles gem. The Russian bakery, filled with challa bread, cheburekis and charming women in pink polka dot aprons behind the counter, is a portal into another, very Russian, world - and they've got the piroshkis to prove it. Unlike other bakeries mentioned in this list, Stolichnaya has baked, in addition to fried piroshkis, at $1.25 each, and a variety of vegetarian-friendly fillings, including cabbage as well as eggs, green onion and rice. The baked piroshkis are a heartier and healthier alternative and can be enjoyed hot or cold. If you're looking for desert, try the sweet cheese pancakes that can be found right next to the piroshki case, and don't take it too personally when a Russian grandmother takes your place in line because you took too long to make a choice about fried buns with fillings. Tip: just get them all. 7875 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, (323) 656-7136.
2. Papillon Bakery:
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Just two doors down from a Russian-Georgian restaurant called "Old Village," Papillon Bakery is buzzing with customers and Ruso-Armenian grandmothers catching up on their daily gossip, who come through its doors for paper bags filled to the brim with savory piroshkis that have a cultivated a reputation all their own, so much so, that they're referred to on the menu as "the famous" meat and potato piroshkis. At $1.10 each, they have classic fillings - potato and beef, both seasoned with spices and greens. But wait, there's more - masterfully combining Eastern and Western street food, Papillon has a 'hot dog' piroshki, a concoction that could have probably done a lot to defrost U.S and Soviet Union relations way back when. The bakery recently opened a location in Van Nuys and an "express" version of its original store in Glendale. In case gorging on piroshkis isn't enough, they also carry two other famous delicacies - their original mini ponchik, a fried dough ball filled with a crème filling, and jingalov hats, a flatbread baked with greens that is a local specialty in Nagorno-Karabakh. 1100 S Central Ave, Unit F, Glendale, (818) 507-0039.
1. Piroshki House:
Tucked away in a corner of a strip mall on Victory Blvd in Van Nuys. Piroshki House has only been open for a little more than a year, but the perfection behind their craft shows: these fried buns have been in the family for decades, with owner Seyran Metsoyan's grandfather having passed down the craft of piroshki making to him. The original Piroshki House was opened in Russia around 17 years ago, but Metsoyan's Los Angeles-area location attracts customers from diverse backgrounds who come in to get at taste of the freshly baked meat and potato filled piroshkis, which are baked unusually long and thin,a technique that doesn't allow the soft dough to overwhelm the filling, according to Metsoyan. They also come with a small container of a spicy-salt mixture that you dip your piroshki in for extra tang. The bakery itself is decked out in pistachio green, with Russian-language talk shows on in the background and a beverage case full of imported Armenian drinks, including tarragon soda and fanta in tall glass bottles to wash down the piping hot piroshkis that are sold at 99 cents a pop. If they've run out of your favorite filling when you arrive, the wait for piroshkis out of the oven is worth it. Just make sure you let it cool down before you sink your teeth in. Take it from us. 14053 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys, (818) 786-0064.