$10 Lunch at Caffe Sarajevo

While we often decry the proliferation of monolithic food chains in the Valley, our home manages to host some unusual ethnic eateries, Tempe's Beaver Choice springs to mind. Northern Phoenix's Caffe Sarajevo certainly fits that model: It's located in a strip mall, well loved by locals, and serves food you probably didn't know existed.

And you can easily get lunch there for $10.  

Caffe Sarajevo, as you might guess from the name, serves traditional Bosnian food. It is located just off the I-17 on West Northern Avenue. The restaurant just finished remodeling but it can be difficult to pick it out among all the bland strip mall storefronts.

Find out what that delicious looking monster sandwich is after the jump.

The decor of Caffe Sarajevo is best described as "rustic Slavic." On the day I visited, a steady stream of lunchtime eaters filed in to order the same thing: cevapi. My server, Nedzad Hadzipasic, explained that the cevapi is more or less the Bosnian national dish and that its culinary roots can be traced to Turkish influences.

Cevapi is a rather massive sandwich filled with most kebabs of a heavily seasoned grilled ground beef. The kebabs combine the flavor of gyro, the simplicity of a hot dog, and the ease of consumption of a hamburger. The meat is served on a fresh slab of lepinja a chewy and moist bread that bears some similarities with a massive English muffin. Like an English muffin, it's split in half to reveal a maze of nooks and crannies, perfect for soaking up flavorful drippings from the meat. The cevapi is served with a generous dollop of sour cream and raw onions, both of which help to cut the heaviness of the meat and bread.

I ate it like a sandwich but looking around at my fellow diners it appears that it is also acceptable to rip off a piece of bread, grabs a bit of meat and dip it in sour cream. Cevapi is one of the most manly and satisfying meals I've eaten recently. The satisfying heft of it in my belly made me want to wrestle a bear or perform a similar feat of manual labor.

Caffee Sarajevo serves cevapi in three sizes. The medium seemed liked a perfect size and at only $7 it gives you a few bucks for a jitter inducing cup of Turkish coffee or a baklava.

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