Los Angeles has a new contender in the pastrami sweepstakes. Something of a dark horse or at least an unknown, it runs a close second to Langer's, the city's undisputed pastrami king. From where does it come? From Mezze, “the swankest of the new upscale meze parlors.” Between the shakshouka with yogurt foam and the chopped chicken livers with challah, the “modern Mediterranean” restaurant already leans toward bubbe cuisine. On what ought to be a day of rest for a Judeo-Christian deity, chef Micah Wexler veers even more heavily into Jewish cuisine with a Sunday-only menu of potato knishes, matzoh ball soup and a pastrami sandwich. It is written: They're freaking awesome.

Mezze: Matzoh Ball Soup

Except for the bacon in a BLT, few sandwich meats deserves as much consideration as pastrami. We've tried all manner of it during 30 Sandwiches in 30 Days: Langer's, Oinkster, Johhnie's, The Hat, Brent's.

Mezze's pastrami is sliced medium-thick. Instead of curling into pink tongues, it crumbles into tender, brisket-like shreds. The meat is strongly peppered and not nearly as salty as most deli pastrami, but it's still packed with flavor. It's heaped on squishy rye that's nowhere near as crusty as the stuff at Langer's or even at Brent's. It's accompanied by housemade large-grain mustard, the tartness a sharp complement to the meat. It's not obscenely large à la the voluptuous sandwiches at Canter's. It's thoroughly manageable, which is to say you may need a side dish. May we recommend a knish?

Actually, make that four knishes. That's how many come in a serving. They're small, about the size of a typical shumai, and fluffy. The potato filling is slightly tart, tinged with sweet onion and wrapped in flaky dough. They don't look traditional, but we think bubbe would be pleased.

Mezze: Knish


Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at eshatkin@laweekly.com.

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