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We all have our passionate pursuits, like birders who keep a lifetime list of all the species they’ve personally see in nature. I’m that way about family-owned bakeries. For decades, I’ve enjoyed discovering new sweet shops in the Denver area that produce the breads and baked goods of various international cultures.
Until I stopped into south Denver’s House of Bread—which the Torosyan family opened on South Parker Road in November—I’d never tasted the legendary loaves of Armenia. “My parents are from Armenia originally, and we grew up in California before moving to Denver about 10 years ago. Our family has been baking and cooking at home our whole lives, but we never owned a bakery or restaurant,” says Katerina Torosyan, co-owner of the bakery.
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While opening during a pandemic was tough, the family figured that the community will always need bread—and they were right. Now the challenge, Torosyan says, is producing enough loaves several times day to meet demand.
At House of Bread, you’ll find dishes that represent that culinary convergence found in Armenian fare, including baklava, mante (meat-filled dumplings), stuffed grape leaves, and various flatbreads—all dishes common in the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Central Asia. “A lot of countries in the region have common borders and cuisines and different names for the same dish,” Torosyan says.
The star of the menu is ajarski—a type of Georgian khachapuri (cheese bread) that’s common in Armenia—and rightfully so. This grand breakfast experience consists of two eggs baked to order with feta and mozzarella inside an oval-shaped yeasted dough. The result is a molten meld of runny eggs and melted cheeses that you spoon up with hunks of the hot chewy bread boat. You can also add basturma, which are thin slices of cured dried beef. Pro tip: Call ahead to order your ajarski or be prepared to chill for up to 20 minutes while it bakes; be sure to eat the hearty dish right away (even if you do so in your car, as I did).
The savory side of House of Bread features perashki (cylindrical beef-, potato- or cheese-filled fritters); lahmajun, which are pizza-like, thin flatbreads topped with garlic-scented ground beef; and mante, Armenian beef dumplings in tomato sauce. “We make everything in the deli case ourselves,” says Torosyan, proudly pointing out beet salad with pomegranate and walnuts, olive salad, eggplant caviar, marinated peppers, and rice-stuffed grape leaves.
The long glass pastry cases at House of Bread are packed with an array of treats ranging from muffins and cookies to baklava, honey cake, tiramisu cups, and fruit tarts. Along with espresso drinks, the bakery serves Armenian coffee,which is thick and bitter like its Turkish counterpart. For dessert, I had to try a pączki, those melt-in-your-mouth Polish yeasted doughnuts filled with apple, raspberry, or Nutella and coated in powdered sugar. I also grabbed a golden loaf of crusty matnakash, a perfect-for-dipping, focaccia-like bread for later.
Torosyan promises to soon supply a much-requested Armenian and Middle Eastern bakery favorite: “We are hoping to start baking lavosh—that’s the paper-thin bread—very soon,” she says.
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m; 2020 S. Parker Road, 720-727-0000