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.