The red sauce in the little cup that came with the gyro plate wasn’t what I thought it was going to be at D’Lara Mediterranean Grill, which opened last month in Bonney Lake.
Was it a creamy tomato sauce? A sumac spiced yogurt dip?
One dip of a finger confirmed: spicy, cool, creamy, tangy.
What was in the little cup other than kicky heat?
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Owner Okan Altug said the sauce is the secret weapon of his wife and co-owner, Dilara Ceylan, who calls it “spicy tzatziki.” The spicing is a well guarded family secret. You should drizzle a bit, along with the cafe’s tasty cucumber tzatziki sauce, on a gyro sandwich at least once in your life.
Altug said his wife, after whom the restaurant is named, is designing labels for selling the sauce in containers.
The sauces accompany a range of fast food Mediterranean fare in the restaurant that’s in the same shopping center as Target. This is the third restaurant for the family. Other D’Lara locations are at The Outlet Collection and near Green River Community College in Auburn.
Here’s a first bite look during the restaurant’s first month of operation. It’s this paper’s policy to withhold criticism during a restaurant’s first month.
Locations: Altug and Ceylan, who operate the restaurants with Ceylan’s brother Baris, opened their first D’Lara at the Outlet Collection in Auburn nine years ago and later expanded to Tacoma Mall. With declining foot traffic, they recently closed the Tacoma Mall location and said when they expand in the future, it will be in higher traffic areas away from malls.
Dining room: Seating for 22, with room for an additional 20 this summer in the plaza outside when the weather warms. Order at the counter, find your own table.
Menu: Gyro plates with a choice of sides or as a salad ($11.49-$11.99); beef, chicken or lamb kebabs with salad, rice and pita ($11.99-$14.99); gyro sandwiches with beef and lamb or chicken ($7.99); vegetarian friendly falafel sandwich or salad ($7.99-$9.49); beef and lamb or chicken gyro bowl ($8.49-$8.99).
Sides/dessert: Dolmades ($3.99), hummus or tzatziki dip with pita ($3.49-$4.99), Greek fries with feta ($4.49-$5.99), rice ($3.25), baklava ($3.25).
On a first visit: Order the gyro plate with a pile of beef-and-lamb gryo meat grilled to order, with sizzled edges, and a heavy waft of garlic. Pita bread was also grilled to order and the plate finished with fluffy rice pilaf and a feta-dressed salad of tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers and lettuce ($11.99 for the plate). Creamy cucumber tzatziki yogurt sauce and Ceylan’s spicy tzatziki came on the side for drizzling.
Also try: Lemon-punched vegetarian friendly dolmades ($3.99). Tender grape leaves rolled up cigar style with a dense filling of lemony rice. Also get the baklava, flaky layers of phyllo dough coated in a sticky honey syrup ($3.25).
D’Lara Mediterranean Grill
Where: 9441 192nd Ave. E., Bonney Lake; 253-750-4693; laramediterraneangrill.com.