beet and paneer salad
 If it weren't for the tabloids reporting on Hilary Swank dining here, I never would have known the place existed! I've driven by Mezze countless times, but never noticed the building. Perhaps it's because when on La Cienega, I suffer tunnel vision for Absolutely PhoBulous, to feed the beast which is my abusive Vietnamese craving.

Upon entering, rows of vertical glass jars sat open, like a rustic bulk food area in a farmer’s market. Cinnamon sticks and star anise sat in open jars, welcoming patrons to smell and touch the exotic spices that awaited them in their meals. 

chicken shawerma on house-baked bread and house-fried zatar chips
One could even watch the chefs plating food, stacking it into presentations that bordered on art pieces. But unlike sushi bars and pizza parlors, this staging area was closed off behind a silent glass wall. There was no interaction, and it felt an art instillation. It wasn’t cold, but professional, almost reverential.

liver & pork pate with mint chutney, homemade pickles and puffed pita
The Mezze chefs take great care not only in presentation, but in the quality of the food. My takeaway was that they let each spice speak for itself, having its own voice when being showcased in the dish. The pate showcased the coriander, the potato chips featured zatar, the shawerma had a masculine, char-broiled flavor and the house-made pickles popped with the tang of mustard seed. It was very clear that the display of spices in glass jars was not for décor, but a demonstration of the tools used by the artists. It is no wonder that celebrities, who could dine anywhere, choose to eat here.

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