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Cheap Eats

Aroma Cafe ~ West LA

6:11 AM PDT on September 14, 2006

Aroma Sign

Aroma Cafe ~ 2530 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, 90064 (TACO MAP) ~ (310) 836-2919

Aroma Cafe is a family owned and operated Bosnian restaurant that is a tiny strip mall oasis of Adriatic cool in an arid landscape. On any given day the place is half-full with men, women and children of Balkan extraction, gobbling up home cooking, drinking Turkish coffee, and smoking on the tiny patio outside. The food ranges from snacks to full-blown entrees from the motherland, and all of it is very good.

Cevapi Sandwich at Aroma Cafe

As this is the cheap eats column, I'll focus on one of the area's best bargains-- the $5 Cevapi Sandwich (pictured above). Consisting of 5 mini-kabobs inside some of the best homemade bread in the city, and served with chopped onions and spices, the Cevapi sandwich is a winner in terms of taste, value and overall experience. The meat is tender and very juicy, the preparation obviously by hand, the the bread is fresh, warm and drizzled with olive oil. An excellent appetizer or side to this perfectly simple sandwich is the grilled feta. You get a nice sized hunk of tangy, melted feta in some foil, with olives and spices on top.

The cevapi sandwich isn't technically on the menu, nor is it the most famous menu item-- that distinction goes to the Kajmak & Beef Prosciutto "Sandwich Of The Future", which has been feted by Jonathan Gold and the LA Times among others. Kind of like a Bosnian burger, but with more flavor and spice, this is one of the most popular items on the menu and is also highly recommended. However, if you like to keep it simple, cevapi is the way to go-- bread, meat and onions.

Aroma's Turkish Coffee

A must-order post meal is the Turkish coffee. If you're the type to smoke a few cigarettes when out at the bar, save them this week for the patio at Aroma and combine your smoking with Aroma's dark, thick Turkish coffee. You'll return to your office or studio refreshed and jolted, humming Balkan pop music under your breath while the guy in the cubicle next to you listens to Christina Aguilara and chokes down some soggy Subway.

Eli waiter at Aroma Cafe

Aroma is also great for dinner, almost everything is good but ask your waiter, which may be Eli (pictured), son of the owners-- he'll give you insights into what you may or may not like if you're unfamilar with Bosnian grub. The warm, family environment of Aroma is great in an era where even some family-run places have chain-like aspirations and policies. This is not fast food, most everything is made from scratch, but it's worth the wait as you soak up the experience of being in a refuge from America that could only be in LA-- note that Aroma is in the same strip mall as the greatly missed "Sexy Plastic Trees" store.

Grilled Feta
View from Aroma Patio
Sexy Plastic Trees wtf
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