Diners looking for a quick and healthy Mediterranean fix in the Eastlake area were left in the lurch with the sudden closing of Daphne’s Greek Cafe.
Happily, the Eastlake Village Marketplace (anchored by Target and Lowe’s) has found a favorable replacement in Luna Grill. The rapidly expanding San Diego-based firm opened its latest franchise in the exact spot Daphne’s occupied.
Luna Grill differentiates from its predecessor with its commitment to using hormone-free beef, lamb and chicken with no added chemicals, preservatives or animal by-products. This is a refreshing change from the usual fast food ingredient list.
The chain serves Persian-style kebab and, being very familiar with that, we ordered the chicken and rice plate ($9). Entrees at Luna Grill range from $9 to $12.50.
Diners unfamiliar with Mediterranean-style cuisine may have seen döner kebab joints popping up all over the place. Döner kebab is essentially the same as Greek gyros, a rotating roast of chopped meat served up as kebab. This Turkish-style kebab is a poor substitute for the real thing.
Genuine shish-kebab is a skewer over an open fire.
Our meals were delivered as pictured: flame-grilled chicken kebab on white basmati rice, with a Greek-style salad with vinaigrette, grilled tomato and, on the side, tzatziki sauce and three pieces of pita bread (Daphne’s would give you four).
The chicken was very good, not dry at all as occasionally happens with flame grilling. The rice was a little damp like it was fresh out of the cooker. The salad and dressing were decent but lacked the olive and feta cheese usually provided in a Persian joint.
The grilled tomato was perfect, however, and the pita bread was good enough to precipitate an order for seconds.
All in all, it was very good quality for the price.
There is better Persian kebab, but it involves long drives to small restaurants staffed by actual Persians.
Other items on the Luna Grill menu include tiger shrimp, beef, lamb, Cornish hen and falafel kebabs, served a la carte, on rice plate combos or in wraps, as well as salads and gyros.
The dining room seating is attractive and adequate — something that couldn’t be said about the old Daphne’s; the parking lot can be a crunch at lunchtime.
Luna Grill passes our surprise inspection with flying colors.
Daphne’s had closed many locations, including the one in Eastlake, as it worked through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The chain has rebranded itself as Daphne’s California Greek and continues to serve the South Bay with a location at the Terra Nova Shopping Center.
Hours at Luna Grill are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Call 656-5862 or visit the Web site at http:// eastlake.lunagrill.com.
Mediterranean cuisine not foreign to South Bay diners
If you live on the west side of Chula Vista and are seeking Mediterranean-style cuisine, you are likely familiar with Zorba’s Greek Buffet (100 Broadway/422-8853).
The restaurant offers very affordable authentic Greek cuisine ($8.95 buffet Monday through Thursday) as well as live entertainment on Friday and Saturday (belly-dancing).
Two new options include Canada Steak Burger (409 Telegraph Canyon Road, Chula Vista) and Ethnic Deli & Cafe (404 Mile of Cars Way, National City) along with the re-imagined Daphne’s California Greek chain (358 East H St., Suite 604, Chula Vista).
— Phillip Brents