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Oct 14, 2010 04:34 PM

Westside Gyros -- Mezza over California Pita

Reading the CH post a couple weeks ago about the best westside gyros, my craving led me to sample the two main rivals. On Tuesday I stopped into California Pita. Parking was easy and free in the inside lot behind the SavOn and Ross strip that includes this eatery and several others on the north side of Wilshire. Saw a sign for the special combo of a gyro, fries and a drink for $7.99 and ordered it. Served on a real glass plate, the gyro was good -- a nice serving of tasty meat with a lot of tomato cubes and the usual fixins. Fries were standard frozen but quite hot and crisp. A good value and satisfying lunch -- thought I'd add it to my rotation.

And then I found Mezza -- literally, because the first time I searched for it I didn't find it and ended up at Hu's. Yess, it is at the northwest corner of Washington and Hughes in Culver City, but Duquesne is the same street that changes name there and dominates the traffic signs. I found street parking but found out inside that there is free parking in the lot behind the strip of restaurants to the west. I found a comfortable spot on the banquette (is that the correct term for an uninterruped row of padded bench along the front window?) and a server took my order of the gyro pita with choice of sides (fries, rice, taboulleh or, my choice, the fatoush salad. ($7.99)

I received a very plump foil-wrapped gyro and the other half of the plate filled with a heavily herb-specked salad with a variety of greens, thin-sliced red onions and radish, tomato and thin crisped squares of pita. A really tasty salad, perfectly dressed -- no greasy coating sliding to the other side. Unwrapping the sandwich, I uncovered four or five thick, charred slices of gyro meat, at least a couple spanning the entire sandwich. After a couple of bites, I unwrapped it and ate it open-faced with knife and fork. This was superior: seasoned meat with much tighter texture and seared crispy on one side, an agressive garlic sauce I asked for with the yogurt dressing, pita wrap toasted on the grill. Well, as long as geography doesn't enter into my choice, I'm entering a new place and placing it higher in the rotation.

Oh, while I don't tbink it is directly comparable, I'd place The Hungry Pocket across from SMC closer to the winner. It's gyro, called a lamb shawarma pita ($5.49), is smaller and quicker but also given an extra sear, very tasty (especially with the wonderful red hot sauce) but for me is more a snack than a full meal.

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  1. Agree with you. I was the one that made the original post and have since tried both (actually, have since been to Mezza three times in total). The only thing I don't like about the gyro at Mezza is that each time I've had a random (at least seems random to me) pickle inside the gyro. I'll have to ask that they leave that out next time. The salad that you can get with the gyro at Mezza is far superior IMHO to the salad that I got at California Pita.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snoopy

      I didn't get a pickle in my (one) gyro at Mezza.

      Agree with Mezza being a great gyro (actually everything I've had there has been great with excellent service). And with my disclaimer being I've only been once, I'd put Kings Kabab above California Pita and Hungry Pocket (I prefer their falafel).

      Hungry Pocket
      1715 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

      California Pita
      201 N Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    2. Hey nosh,

      Glad you liked Mezza's gyro. I've never searched far and wide for LA's best gyro, but after randomly ordering it around town over the years, I've found Mezza's to be really great stuff. For the most part, we've found most of their menu items to be very good as well.

      1. I am going to try King Kebob, Mezza, and Hungry Pocket on a gyros quest. I will return.

        Hungry Pocket
        1715 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

        8 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            thank you. i traveled down to King Kebob, which wasn't very kingly. It was a counter on the street, a humble place right next to a huge bar. everything smelled of stale beer, including the worker's breath behind the counter. the gyros was acceptable.

            will continue quest.

            everyone in the south bay should go to Sabra in Redondo Beach for Gyros.

            1. re: echoparkdirt

              methnks you are being very kind to king kabob.
              it was just terrible when i tried it.

              1. re: westsidegal

                I'm a nice guy....
                Hey how about a westside chow hound meetup?

          2. re: echoparkdirt

            Hungry Pocket was abominable, barely above cafeteria grade. Never go there again.

            Hungry Pocket
            1715 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

              1. re: echoparkdirt

                At Hungry Pocket, it's all about the falafel pita's with the hot sauce. And their fresh apple juice.

                Hungry Pocket
                1715 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                1. re: mdpilam

                  the falafel is eh. I don't know about the juice.

            1. Since my Oct. 14, post, I've been back to Mezza two more times for gyros (I'm on a gryo kick right now). Anyway, the second to last time the gyro was pretty bad. The pieces were really small and almost all super salty/burned and very tough. Normally I give a few pieces to my 2 1/2 year old, but the meat was so overdone and chewy that I was afraid he wouldn't be able to chew it. The pita was burned too. My husband wanted to go there for take out this week, so I decided to give it another try and it was very good again, just like the previous times (also, no random pickles in the gyro the last two times).

              1. Best gyros on the west side, by far, is Aliki's by the airport.

                I didn't care for Mezza's. King is eh. Mama Voula's was great but they're now only in the Grove.

                4 Replies
                1. re: epop

                  "but they're now only in the Grove."

                  Are you referring to Ulysses?

                    1. re: epop

                      And Ulysses has good gyros? I've walked by Ulysses many times and never considered trying them.

                      1. re: Peripatetic

                        Stop and try, with a book of Aristotle in hand. Very good, but pricey (for a gyros), as it is a restaurant.