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Sean and Maria Trakas Pourteymour opened their first Luna Grill back in 2004 with their minds – and appetites – set on offering healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food in a relaxed setting. Fourteen years later, the pair continues to offer a delectable blend of Maria’s favorite Greek fare and Sean’s beloved Iranian dishes at their fast casual restaurants, the perfect spots for anyone constantly on the go.
Like many popular fast casual eateries, we ordered at the counter, where we picked out a couple of starters, wraps and plates. After finding a comfortable booth, we were served within minutes a plate of golden spinach pie triangles. These handcrafted phyllo-dough bites featured spinach and feta cheese, and were baked until crispy and delicious. A mild cucumber-yogurt dip and slice of lemon added a burst of fresh flavors to the small bites.
As we waited for the next dish, I admired the colorful vintage, yet modern décor of the restaurant. While Luna Grill is billed as a fast casual eatery, it feels like a more cozy, formal sit-down restaurant. I especially enjoyed the lighting with hanging cutlery, which brought just a touch of whimsy to the space.
The large sampler platter that arrived next proved to be my favorite. The dish artfully presented four falafel rounds, four stuffed grape leaves (filled with rice, onions and tomatoes), pita bread triangles, a scoop of hummus and a generous serving of pearl couscous salad mixed with chopped cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes and parsley. It was seasoned perfectly and tasty.
I also ordered a new menu item, the better beet bowl, filled with a handful of organic spring mixed lettuce, chopped roasted red beets and roasted yellow tomatoes. A sprinkling of feta cheese, almonds and chopped basil topped it off, and a house-made vinaigrette rounded out the pleasing flavors.
All of the meats and proteins at Luna Grill are seasoned, marinated and cooked over an open flame to bring out the natural flavors. We all particularly enjoyed the boneless chicken kabob marinated in lemon and spices. It also can be made as a lavash wrap with quinoa tabbouleh, arugula, chopped tomatoes and feta cheese.
We also ordered the traditional Persian-style koobideh, a ground sirloin kabob made with all natural ground beef mixed with minced onion, salt and pepper. It sounds simple, but tastes delicious. They also offer a halal-certified, grass-fed lamb tenderloin kabob marinated in lemon juice and onions, and basted with a saffron butter.
Fish lovers have a choice of either a Norwegian (kosher) salmon filet that is seasoned lightly and grilled, or mahi-mahi. On the plate you have a choice of house salad or basmati rice. You can also select soft carrots or grilled tomato. It comes with pita bread and cucumber-yogurt dip. For an additional cost, you can also upgrade the house salad to a Greek salad.
Luna Grill offers a kids menu for children under 10 that includes a chicken kabob, gyro plate, hamburger or quesadilla. On the plate, children can choose slices of cucumbers, basmati rice, a small house salad or seasoned fries. Kids eat free every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to closing with the purchase of an adult entrée.
Before leaving we ordered a flakey baklava and “choclava” drizzled in chocolate sauce for a rich end to our meal. They also have cookie sandwiches, and mini chocolate, vanilla or red velvet cupcakes.
Next time you aren’t in the mood to cook and are seeking a healthy dinner, visit Luna Grill for their Mediterranean and Middle Eastern delights. $ 9901 Washington Blvd., #106, Culver City, (424)523-3242. 4550 Van Nuys Blvd., Ste. A3, Sherman Oaks, (747)208-5862. Soon to open in the Stanford Court – 3001 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.
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