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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

Worldly Tastes

August 25, 1994|MICHAEL KRIKORIAN

At first glance, the Highrose Cafe looks like just another burger/submarine place near the beach. Look past the burgers, though, and you'll find Near Eastern dishes, and a smattering of Greek, Cajun, Japanese and Mexican items as well.

The Mediterranean pedigree stems from a Jordanian mountain village named Salt, where the Dahdah family lived before moving to Beirut, Lebanon. The family came to America in 1971, and Steve David Dahdah opened the Highrose in Manhattan Beach two years ago.

Large windows provide a view of the ocean a block away, as well as a look at the sea of humanity walking past the busy corner. With built-in decor like this, the restaurant confines its interior ornamentation to a few black-and-white photos of Manhattan Beach dating back to 1912.

The Dahdah family recipes date back quite a bit, and a good way to sample them is to order a combination plate. The No. 5 ($6.50), for example, consists of rice-stuffed grape leaves, falafel (a "croquette" of ground garbanzos), hummus (a dip made of ground garbanzos flavored with sesame seed paste, lemon juice and garlic) and tabbouleh (a salad of bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, chopped tomatos and onions tossed with olive oil and lemon juice). This dish, with its accompanying basket of pita bread, is large enough for a nice small lunch or serious snack for two.

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As in all beach communities, salads are a big draw here. Greek, chicken and Caesar salads are available, either alone or in combination (small, $3.95; large, $6.25).

For a main course there is souvlaki ($6.50), a Greek-style lamb shish kebab served with rice and salad. You can also find Japanese teriyaki chicken and Mexican fajitas . The Cajun notes are provided by a blackened, spicy Hawaiian tuna ($6.50) and a blackened chicken breast ($6.25).

Highrose Cafe is at 306 Rosecrans Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 545-6571. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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