Now that’s one spicy Mazza-ball-tasty, too

Watch TV for at least 10 minutes, and you’re guaranteed to witness at least one flashy fast-food commercial, which will, without fail, mention the word “value” at least once.

American culture seems to be obsessed with “getting the most bang for your buck,” but our fast-food companies have either forgotten-or conveniently overlooked-one of value’s crucial requisites.

Something can’t just be cheap to be valuable. Rather, it must also meet a certain standard of quality. It’s the marriage of the two that produces true value.

And trust me, the meat in 59-cent hamburgers meets no such standard. But whether you have a fast-food fetish or not, chances are you’re looking for a delicious meal that’s also well worth your gravy.

Mazza has the perfect balance of ingredients to simultaneously delight your tummy, brain and wallet. This small caf’s Middle-Eastern cuisine is so filled with flavor, freshness and heavenly fragrance it’s downright luscious.

And the price-well, you might end up ordering about five too many appetizers because you can afford that many with the same amount of money you’d spend on an entre and a single appetizer somewhere else.

Speaking of appetizers, some excellent choices include the sharp and refreshing hummus, tabbooleh and baba ganooj. Equally scrumptious but less well known are the loobia-thin, tender green beans and a spicy tomato, onion, garlic and olive oil sauce-and the fl madammas, which is a blend of fava and garbanzo beans perfectly cooked and blended with fresh garlic, mint, lemon juice, tahini and spices. The loobia is smooth, slightly sweet and has a powerfully spicy aftertaste; the madammas boasts a lemony and solid beany richness.

Beans rarely taste as toothsome or wholehearted as they do in these two appetizers.

One of Mazza’s best sandwiches is the chicken shawarma. Its tender chicken breast is broiled, chopped and served in a toasted pita with a tangy combination of tahini, garlic, greens and pickles.

Another outstanding lunch sandwich is the cheese and zaatar, comprising slices of bold Mediterranean cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, a drizzle of olive oil, a toasted French bun and just the right amount of zataar-a zesty sauce of oregano, sumac and sesame. This sandwich’s titular cheese and zataar combine to achieve a flavor that is both unusual and positively mouthwatering.

The perfect end to a rich, piquant and completely satisfying meal is the baklava. Mazza’s version is less honey-saturated than the usual Americanized one, and thus carries just a hint of saltiness. Without the honey overload, the flavors of the phyllo dough and walnuts are able to emerge, and the honey’s flavor itself becomes far more tantalizing.

With its owner straight outta Lebanon, Mazza’s food is, without a doubt, as authentic as it gets.

The restaurant’s casual but elegant ambiance is simple, with beige walls and dark furniture, but also authentic to some degree. Adorning the walls are a number of large, framed photographs of Lebanon, which almost succeed at making you feel as though you’re really there, and these are merely windows.

Mazza’s food perfectly unites high quality and low cost. Its dishes are all divine in flavor and ingredients, and the prices are practically too good to be true.

Where else can you find a lamb kebab sandwich for only $7? Gourmet restaurants get away with five to 10 times that price.

With such exceptional fare, Mazza has the potential to completely redefine the word “value.”

After this, you’ll never look at fast food the same way again. In fact, besides those ubiquitous commercials, you may never look at fast food again.

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