Marouch Lebanese Restaurant | Hollywood, CA

A parade of meze in Little Armenia

Hummus graces many a fridge these days, and tabbouleh is a common deli salad.

Not so when Marouch opened in 1982 on Santa Monica Boulevard, though many of its Lebanese-Armenian dishes have since drifted into the mainstream of America's palate. So the meze platters ($40 for two people; $76 for four; $96 for six) served in this faux-arch-lined dining room are a testatment to the staying power of their flavor.

The tabbouleh, for example, tastes like far more than the sum of its parsley-scattered parts. The salad of fine-ground bulgur carries a tart smack of lemon and the assertive bite of green onion. Its flavor is as complex as the ingredients are simple.

The baba ghanoush (pictured) is meaty in ways that even animal protein rarely is, its carnal smokiness a compelling argument for vegetarianism. All that's needed to make a nearly perfect bite is to drag a piece of warm pita through the dish.

There's actual meat, too: crisply fried kibbeh, sautéed Armenian sausage, and pungent veils of bastourma, Armenia's bresaola-beating take on air-dried beef.

Bring wine ($8 corkage fee), friends and an appetite, and you're bound to have a great meal.

Marouch, 4905 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; 323-662-9325 or