The city of 1000 cafes shows its best through the coffee cup. Here is our 2003 update of Yerevan cafes we like best. Not all of them, but a start.
The joys of Yerevan are married to its cafes, most of which are outdoor. There are over 1000 officially registered cares in Yerevan, at least 500 of which are in the city center. The first Soviet Republic to have sidewalk cafes, Yerevan has developed them into an art form, each one trying to outdo the others with fountains, gardens, stone and wooden summer pavilions.
Entertainment at cafes runs from the oldie-soviet-goldies and Russian pop music to jazz, classical and rock music, with many featuring televisions and projection TV screen showing MTV videos and outdoor films. Round this off with some featuring live music. All this for the cost of a cup of coffee!
S'rjaraner (indoor Cafes) are open year round, and usually have an outdoor cafe section. Outdoor cafes begin to open in April or May, depending on the weather, but most open May/June and stay open until the first cold weather comes, normally the end of October/November.
Coffee is almost universally 150 drams in 2002, at the more chic places it can be 250 drams. That is for "s'rj normal", the thick black stuff with sugar. Nescafe is around 250 drams, filter coffee about the same. Cappuccino, lattes and iced coffees will be 400 drams and up. The most expensive cafes will charge as much as $4 a cup, so be sure to check the menu.
Even the simplest cafe offers the most entertaining part of Yerevan: it's people. Buy a cup of coffee and you have the right to sit as long as you want and watch life go by.
So it's impossible to list them all, and you wouldn't want to visit them all anyway (you need some culture, eh?). These are our favorites--shamelessly subjective, rating cost, atmosphere and watchability (ability to watch the world go by). If you have a favorite tell us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Malibu (Mashtots Bulevar) wooden pavilions and fountains
15x15 (Sayat Nova and Abovian): Southwestern tree house café on one of the cool streets in town.
Sil Group Café (Khandjian St. ring park and Tumanian): wooden pavilions and "mah" atmosphere.
Next Door (next to Sil Group Cafe): intimate setting in nature. Night time rendezvous.
Cacadu (Cascade Park): Still one of the most comfortable and cool evening spots.
Monument Cafes: Pick any looking over the center of town, or in the top green park by the Ferris wheel. Hot spot for teenagers.
Hrazdan Gorge: Go to children's park via tunnel under the Post Office Building (Sarian Street) and sit in the coolness of the gorge. Most spots are restaurant bars, not very inviting in the evening.
Lower Mashtots Prospect (below Tumanian)
Malibu: 150 drams
on the "Bulevar" between Mashtots and Sarian Street, below the Post Office building, facing Mashtots. Between three original park fountains and under a canopy of very large trees. Atmosphere is very comfortable and laid back. Eclectic music, but not overbearing.
Argos: 150 drams
Immediately behind Malibu. Not as permanent as Malibu, wait servers reputed to be for rent. Favors Russian music.
Upper Mashtots (above Tumanian)
They all have their charms, and all are 150 drams per cup. New ones include the cafe on the southern end of the lake and the marble hall across the sidewalk. La Scala on Sayat Nova is the standby, and still a great place to while away the hours.
Abovian St and Museum: 150 drams
There are a couple of cafes next to the museum on Abovian St. but they are in a sad state, showing no renovation or upkeep from when they first opened several years ago. Go on up Abovian for better.
Below Republic Square
2780 Fountain cafes: 150-200 drams
Four cafes along the fountains, each with varying degrees of lighting. No favorites, all about the same. Not as nice as in other areas, but will do if you are stuck on that end of town.
By Congress Hotel: 150 drams
One block below the fountains, nestled in the park next to and opposite Congress Hotel are a couple of nice, simple cafes. Park setting makes all the difference.
Between Republic Square and Tumanian
This is the historic part of Abovian Street, with most buildings dating back 100 years or more. The street is narrow, so cafes are smaller, and not as opulently decked out as in other areas. Also tourist magnet, so while coffee is still 150 drams, everything else is expensive.
Old GUM Store: 150
Next to Sil Plaza. Below the renovation of the old GUM store, the cafe's atmosphere can't drown out construction noises. Food between 1000-3000.
Hotel Yerevan: 250 drams
Located inside the hotel. Why bother with something so expensive and overdone? Go outside for real cafe pleasures.
Abovian Street, above Tumanian
15 by 15: 150 drams
At corner of Abovian and Sayat Nova. Great atmosphere, laid back, southwestern style awnings, friendly staff and good eats. Huge wooden chairs and tables. Food 1000-3000.
Artbridge: 150-25 drams / premium up to $4
Strictly indoors cafe located between Tumanian and Sayat Nova, this classy joint has a tiny bookstore and back room cafe outfitted in Erebuni style. It is also home to the most expensive coffee in Yerevan, with a double cappuccino costing $4 at the current exchange rate. Not even Starbucks costs this much!
Arshil Gorky: 150 drams
A little above Sayat Nova. Beautifully decorated cafe with tables cut and painted into exact copies of artwork hanging on the walls, with coaster to match! Also a restaurant, food middling fair, but the atmosphere makes a difference. Outside cafe on the street has a steel sculpture posing as a wet bar. Food 1000-2500 drams for most fare.
Yerevan State University Area/ Physics Institute
Tekeyan Center/ Khandjian
Tekeyan Center: 150 drams
Indoor Internet Cafe run by Arminco, outdoor has revolving owners.
Sayat Nova and Alec Manukian: 150 drams
Right at corner in the park, looks like a series of small Swiss outdoor houses, trimmed in wood with clay roofs. Afternoon sun is a little too strong, early evening and after dark are prime times.
Sil Group Cafe: 150 drams
Newly built cafe around the Greenbelt fountain close to Tekeyan Center, this cafe is a series of wooden pavilions with pine wood tables and chairs. Extremely popular at the moment, the outdoor projection screen shows music videos and films, live music on the outdoor stage from time to time.
The cafe next door: 150 drams
If the music gets too loud, sneak next door to a simpler, but more romantic cafe built in and between park trees and bushes. Quiet relaxation.
Next to old swimming pool: 150 drams
A one minute walk below the University Fountain leads to a cafe with a series blue glass arc canopies and double fountain. Grab the tables with e padded chair for an afternoon or evening of coffee nirvana.
Krunk: 200 drams, food $5-10
Actually a restaurant posing as a cafe, this is one of the nicest venues in Yerevan this summer. It has indoor, sidewalk and rooftop seating. The surrounding garden is the best we've seen, the rooftop is nirvana: cool breezes, views of the surrounding hills, retractable roof and live jazz music.