There are a few places to enjoy real Armenian food, authentic Armenian food, and my favorite to date is Onno. However, I've always heard stories about Apo, so searching around on Google, I got a hold of a phone number, which led me to a small place hidden behind the Main Street of Bourj Hammoud. I won’t be able to give you exact directions, so calling them will get you there quicker. All I can say is that the place is located behind the Quarantina Bridge, behind the new Campomatic showroom.
Apo has a story, and years of experience, opened in 1976, by a man who started up with a small wooden kiosk in his home of Bourj Hammoud. Today, the son handles the shop, which is divided into the air-conditioned dining area on the upper floor, and the sandwicheria down below.
The place has a certain positive vibe, an Armenian feel where hundreds of hungry customers pass by every day to indulge in those renowned sandwiches. For a first visit, we decided to climb up the stairs and enjoy an in-house lunch.
The menu, printed in yellow and red, offers an Armenian variety of meze, platters, grills per kilo and drinks. A small choice that's just right for this street food place. The first impression is positive, and the dining space is clean and well air-conditioned, leather chairs, glass tables, nice lighting and a smiley waitress with plates printed with the Apo logo.
- Kabab Filet
- Kabab Khachkhach
- Kaba Aubergine
- Kabab Soujouk
- Kabab Mohammara
- Kabab Apo Special
- Kabab Stambuly
- Shish Taouk
- Asbe Mishwi
- Kebbe Naye
- Habra Naye
- Batata (french Fries)
We ordered a large selection of plates that were garlic-free to have a full impression of the place. A plate of mint and pickles landed as we started with a bottle of water.
- The crispy chicken: Looking like a KFC fried chicken crisp, those crunchy chunks are oil-free and fresh. A plate that’s not on the menu, it doesn't feel Armenian and might not fit this restaurant, but it was good to try. Crispy on the outside and juicy in the inside, I enjoyed them.
- The special fattouch: A huge plate like a cake, good for six people, is decorated with rolls of fried bread. Lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, rocket leaves and some cabbage for decoration. The crunchy rolls are awesome, they crumble into a hundred pieces erupting in flavors, a secret mix of mouhammara, summak and other ingredients, while the salad is fresh and tasty. A good salad with a pomegranate sauce. I'll come back for those fried rolls.
- The kebab with nuts: Four fingers of kebab, soft like a pillow and mixed with crushed nuts, it offers a unique taste and a subtle spiciness. Light and tender, the meat melts under your teeth like butter covered in a nut envelope which crunches in style. Yum! The plate is covered with a bread loaf filled with onions, and famous as an accompaniment to kebabs.
- Mouhammara: Spicy, peppery and filled with spices, the mouhammara is good. Fans of this plate will like it but I would have preferred to feel a certain crunch, bigger walnuts pieces, more core flavors and less pepper. If I may, the best I've had to date is the one at Mayyass, Achrafieh
- Hummus with meat: Honestly, I was expecting better. The hummus was average and the meat was not as tender as it should be. A bit dry and the tahina flavor was too prominent. Not a favorite today.
- I fell in love with the fries. Even though frozen, the fries tasted fresh, crunchy and feel light. A must order if you plan to visit.
- The ribs: An extraordinary sauce, spicy, rich, spicy but the ribs could be softer. Those were not of the finest. Perhaps this was a one-off issue?
- Kebab and cheese arayess is not for the faint hearted. A thick layer of Kafta, moist and well cooked is covered with melting cheese, on top of this crunchy bread. The extreme amount of fat is enjoyable indeed; a couple of bites are enough to satisfy your craving.
Value for money is excellent. We ate all of the above for only LBP50,000/person.
Lunch at Apo was good, enjoyable, with an Armenian feel, where spiciness, garlic and aromas were felt in every bite. It was easy to order something without garlic. Taking the order took us more than 15 minutes while we asked the chef about the ingredients. A lovely lunch indeed, but I was honestly expecting better. Maybe because I was comparing it to other Armenian restaurants around the city. I'll be coming back for the sandwiches, I heard they are exquisite.
If you decide to come here, don’t put your expectations too high. It’s street food after all. Many come here for the meat, while others say Apo has the best Kebab in town and I might agree on that. Give it a try.