The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Late Night Eats do Exist in the Valley

The demands of college life seem endless. Balancing work, school and a semblance of a social life are daunting.’ Many students work during the day and take classes at night. When those 10 p.m. courses are over, sometimes the best antidote to cure exhaustion is comfort food.

Now, for some the definition of comfort food falls along the lines of a boiling cup of ramen noodles or the occasional toaster strudel. However, there are alternatives to be found, and not just in Los Angeles. The valley offers several great options for late-night grub.

Although there isn’t an actual drive-in at Mel’s Drive-In, it is one of a few restaurants in the San Fernando Valley to offer late night or early morning dining. Regardless of its contrived 1950s d’eacute;cor, it maintains a reputation for attracting a ‘touristy’ crowd. Its less than healthy eats are popular making Mel’s the place to go for late night self-indulgent hankerings like creamy milk-shakes or fresh baked pies served ala mode. Mel’s takes you back to simpler times, to an era when cholesterol and trans fats were not yet a part of the everyday American lexicon.

The bright fluorescent sign outside lets you know that you have arrived at what could easily pass for a reject ‘Grease’ filming location. The walls are cluttered with pictures of long lost celebrities and behind them, the wallpaper depicts scenes from the 1970s George Lucas film, ‘American Graffiti.’

Servers decked out in miniature tiara headbands and square-paper hats dish up larger than life burgers and piles of curly fries to patrons seated in forest green and cream leather booths. Each table comes equipped with its own mini-jukebox, and for 75 cents, you can listen to five songs of your choosing. Be forewarned though, the song selection is somewhat mislabeled.

Mel’s campy chaos is its appeal. After all, most patrons do not go to Mel’s for the food. They come to satiate their taste for nostalgia and to have somewhere to loiter in the wee hours of the morning.

For those interested in comfort food, Mel’s chicken pot pie is a wonderful reminder of the wholesome flavors and rib-sticking eats of a homemade meal. A classic Mel’s menu item, the pot pie does tend to run a little on the soggy side. Customers looking for something with more crunch should order Mel’s extra crispy Twisty Fries. The fries are served with a side of ranch dressing, into which ketchup can be added to make a special sauce for dipping.

No late night outing would be the same without a massive amount of caffeine. The brew at Mel’s Drive-In is decent and at midnight can even seem divine. Any other time of day, this self-proclaimed ‘superior cup’ might leave something to be desired. A bit watery with a lingering astringent after-taste, Mel’s java is not what brings in customers.

The real reason to frequent Mel’s Drive-In has to be their classic milkshakes and larger than life desserts. The vanilla milkshake, with whipped cream and a cherry on top, goes well with the peach cobbler, which can be served warm or cold. The cobbler is not listed on the menu, but if you are lucky, they might have it in the back.

Evening diners with more contemporary tastes should pay a visit to the Aroma Bakery Caf’eacute;, another valley restaurant catering to the late night crowd.’ A popular European style restaurant, Aroma Bakery Caf’eacute; specializes in Mediterranean cuisine and boasts an impressive selection of desserts and baked goods. Customers flock to the caf’eacute; around the clock, so be prepared to wait a little.

Presenting a sleek and modern exterior, the caf’eacute; features an outdoor patio in addition to its indoor seating. While it is not the coziest environment, Aroma’s crowded and loud atmosphere contributes to the overall feeling of being at a wildly popular neighborhood caf’eacute;. But save any deep personal conversations for another venue, you may need to raise your voice in order to be heard.

True to its name, the caf’eacute; bakes its bread on premises permeating the bakery section with a delicious aroma. Also wafting through the air is the scent of coffee, java that definitely surpasses the weak brew at Mel’s Drive-In.

The menu at Aroma offers a wide selection of gourmet salads, pizzas, pastas and sandwiches. There are numerous choices for the late night comfort food seeker. The Siciliana pizza is a delicious creation featuring feta cheese, red onions and calamata olives, sans tomato sauce. The pizza dough is crisp on the bottom yet warm and soft in the middle. For those who enjoy carbohydrates, order Aroma’s Nodellino. A salad of warm noodles with a mixture of roasted vegetables in a savory Asian-style dressing, this dish hits the spot.

Aroma also has an impressive selection of baked goods and desserts. Cases of cakes and shelves of cookies might in fact, distract you from your entrees. Anyone looking for a late night sugar boost will find something sweet to meet his or her needs.

The chocolate croissant has just the right amount of chocolate and the buttery pastry melts as you eat it. The decadent double brownie topped with colorful sprinkles and dotted with nuts, is one of the few bakery brownies you will have to eat with a spoon, it is that gooey.

Contrary to popular belief, there are great places to eat in the valley, even between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. you can grab a bite to eat that is fun and delicious, you just have to know where to look. Local restaurants, like these, are a great reason to stay up late, grab your friends and have a delicious meal.

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