The Outsider's Insider

A Guide to Living in Yerevan

Outdoor Cafe Culture June 9, 2010

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One thing that is definitely not lacking in Yerevan is outdoor cafes.  This is both one of my favorite things about the city and one of my least favorite things!  I will start with the negative side, because, as we all know, it is better to finish up on a positive note!

The overabundance of cafes in Yerevan has led to most of our lovely (and sometimes not so lovely) parks to be absolutely overrun with café on top of café on top of café.  The majority of those are little more than plastic lawn chairs and tables unceremoniously plopped down anywhere there is space.  Locals also complain about this, but the summer café culture is really part of the lifestyle here.

Kaziryok (The Cap...one of the oldest cafes in Yerevan)

On the other hand, Yerevan is absolutely home to some of the best outdoor cafes you will ever come across.  Yes, service here is not the best (a little slow and not so smiley), but the coffee and ice cream are fresh, and the beer is usually cold!  I love the culture of lazily passing a Sunday afternoon with friends, eating pizza, having drinks, and listening to kids play in the background!

I’m not going to mention specific cafes here, mainly because I think that you should decide what places you really like for yourself!  I just want to mention the best areas in town for finding an abundant selection of good, or at least decent, places.

One of the favorites is, of course, the Cascad (you know…the giant staircase smack in the middle of downtown) area.  While none of the cafés stand out as phenomenal, you can’t beat it for location!  The view of Cascad is great, and it’s a particularly fantastic spot for people watching.  You get a good mix of people walking around.  Plus, the gardens and sculptures are pretty nice!  There are two or three cafés on either side…so you can really take your pick!

Cascad

From Cascad, if you walk towards the Opera, you will find at least one large café, and once you cross Mashtots Ave, you will actually having a hard time choosing which café to take a seat in!  I have been to most of the cafes surrounding the Opera and Swan Lake, and they are all pretty good.  Of course, it always depends on what you like….I, for one, need to carefully check out the chairs for comfort and I always need to be in the shade!

Cafe Near Swan Lake

Cafe Near Opera

Lovely Cafe Near Opera

Abovian Street, running through the heart of Yerevan, also has quite a few cafes.  You’ll find most of them above Tumanian Street, there are a few below Tumanian to Republic Square, but not many.  In Republic Square the only café that you will really find is at the Marriott Hotel.  It’s pricey, but I hear it’s the place to go for networking!

Marriott Cafe

Cafe on Abovian Street

Remember, at some of the cafes, the sofas and big comfy chairs are considered to be VIP, and there may be an additional charge for sitting there!!

All in all, summer may be hot in Yerevan, but it’s the best time to really experience the culture.  People watching is a great lazy day activity…all done sitting in a comfortable café and drinking a cold beer!

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4 Responses to “Outdoor Cafe Culture”

  1. Tim Says:

    Thanks, Lori! Just back from an outdoor cafe here at the Cascade! So nice! But, there is a raging discussion now in Yerevan about whether there are actually TOO MANY cafes in Yerevan. Few places left for strolling with the kids or for the old folks to take a pause and a conversation. The cafe being constructed at Student Park has resulted in a petition with 15000 signatures against it! We don’t need them literally wall to wall. Balance, please, balance. Have a look at the discussion going on on the Artbridge profile on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/ArtbridgeBC?ref=ts

  2. Thanks for the info! You always have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in Yerevan! While I generally agree about there being too many cafes in town, I think that Artbridge is one place where there should be one! That stretch of Abovian is a little ‘blah’, and Artbridge is a cool place! I don’t think that there should be anymore cafes in parks though! I signed the petition for that particular park! Balance really is the key. If you walk in the park near Grigor Lusavorich Church (stretching from the church and wrapping around the whole center), you will really see that lack of balance. While there may be a couple of good spots there, I didn’t recommend it due to the prevalence of the above-mentioned plastic tables and chairs plopped down anywhere there is space!

  3. Christian Says:

    Kaziryok is my favorite–basic no-frills laid back cafe, generally friendly wait staff, and the beer is usually very cold. I really don’t bother going to other cafes any more. The cafes around the Opera are the most annoying and pretentious in the city by far. There’s an unobtrusive cafe in the “Lover’s Park” on Baghramyan Street that seems nice, btw.

    • I mostly agree with you about the Opera cafes, but a lot of the readers here have kids and the Opera is a decent place where they can run around! Though I do like the cafe at Karapi Leech, mainly because it was the first place I ever went in Armenia (I had arrived late at night, and my jet-lag had me wandering the city at 2 am, and it was the only place open!) Have you been to the Lover’s Park cafe? I haven’t been yet, and I always mean to check it out!!! By the way…thanks so much for checking out my blog!


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