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The Astroburger on Melrose Avenue has two of the coolest drinks in town. And they're both Greek, which is not what you would expect from a corner sandwich shop. The Vissino Shake blends milk, vanilla ice cream and sour cherries from Greece into a pale pink drink so thick that you can hardly get it up a straw. Frappe is iced coffee the way Greeks drink it in Athens. The coffee is whipped to a froth with milk, sugar and ice. You sip it through a head of foam and use the straw to stir up the coffee and sugar as they settle to the bottom. According to legend, the name came from French tourists.
Why Greek drinks? Because the Astroburger's owner, Cosmas Kapantzos, is from Athens. He's put Greek food on the menu too. Go in for a burger, taco or gyro sandwich and you might want to add on stuffed grape leaves, a Greek salad or a dessert such as baklava or rizogalo (rice pudding). Or you might skip the burger entirely and go for a daily Greek special such as yemitsa (rice-stuffed tomatoes and peppers), vegetarian pastitsio or spanakorizo, which is spinach and rice with fresh tomato sauce.
The Astroburger specializes in lean food, fresh ingredients, and vegetarian dishes, Greek and otherwise, possibly because it's across the street from Paramount Studios, where people think thin.
Astroburger: 5601 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, on the corner of Melrose and Gower; (323) 469-1924.