A pretty big percentage of the new places to eat in Culver City owe their existence either to the sleek-restaurant boom downtown or to the demand for halal food near the big mosque a couple of miles to the west. Mezza is where the two waves meet, a bustling new restaurant across from the Kirk Douglas Theatre, a center of Lebanese-style grilled kebabs, chicken shawarma and an impressive array of mezze, the Middle Eastern appetizers from which the restaurant takes its name: the usual hummus, baba ghanoush and stuffed grape leaves, but also more unusual things like batta harra, cubed potatoes sauteed with lemon and stunning quantities of garlic; fried eggplant with cauliflower; and a nice take on arayes, the thin Lebanese version of a hamburger. The aggressively spiced ground-beef kafta kebabs are especially nice. If you frequent restaurants like Sunnin, Alcazar and Marouch, you've tasted all of this before, but there's a compelling rusticity to the food — the chef apparently comes from the mountains of Lebanon rather than the cosmopolitan precincts of Beirut — and it's a great place to fall into after a movie.

MEZZA: 9901 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (310) 202-7888, MezzaMG.com. Open Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

LA Weekly