Serving hungry shoppers is nothing new to Dametra: A few years back they expanded from their Carmel restaurant with a Mediterranean café at Del Monte Center. Now Marina consumers can enjoy casual dishes, too. But what’s really the draw is “The General,” a fully-stocked bar just beyond the dining room with a dedication to military history.
Out back you can order from the same menu – pick your protein, sides and toppings for a hearty pita wrap, rice pilaf or a salad. The difference? Instead of conveniently boxed up, it’s served on a dinner plate.
On a very rainy Friday night, it was surprising to see anyone out and about, let alone several tables in the back of a fast food restaurant and a girls’ night at the bar.
And yet, there is something decidedly not “fast food” about Dametra. Perhaps it’s owner Bashar Sneeh’s experience running upscale Carmel restaurants shining through. Maybe it’s the ambiance – colorful, freshly painted walls, dimmed lights and copper tables. Or maybe it’s the historical aura from the bar itself – an 80-year-old piece of parquet wood once belonging to Fort Ord’s Stilwell Hall.
Whatever it is, it seemed a treat to get a big, beautiful entrée here for a mere $10.
They pack a lot into each plate. Tender gyro meat matched well with everything from crunchy Greek salad to soft, warm pita to the light, seasoned rice. Plenty of sauce options enhanced each bite, like subtle tahini, spicy roasted pepper or a rich garlic aioli.
The sides were just as good as the main courses. Refreshing quinoa tabouli showed off lemony parsley notes decorating the cucumber and tomatoes. Filling little dolmas seemed to melt in the mouth with bites of thick, creamy rice. Smoky baba ganoush brought smooth texture and depth. The most addictive spanakopita revealed herby spinach and feta in a delicate pastry. And you can’t go wrong smothering anything and everything in the cooling tzatziki.
Less enthusiasm shows in the slightly dry chicken kebab – although with no shortage of appealing sauces, the offense could have been worse.
Then there’s the drink menu, a refuge in the storm – or even on a nice day. For those who like creative shots, there’s a dedicated list. You’ll find Baby Boom shooters like the PB&J, Scooby Snack and banana cream pie. Beer and wine comes standard too, but bar manager Leslie Reehani’s cocktails are the feature, like the Elderflower Collins. First the St. Germain hits you with the sweetness of a blossoming garden, only to be quickly zinged by bright, tangy lemon juice in crisp club soda. Contrary to any hint of fast food, the drink could best be described as thoughtful – a term fitting for the entire place.
For while it is a quick and convenient stop if you want it to be, Dametra can also be an affordable date night dinner. It’s cute, it’s clean and, best of all, it’s delicious. Oh, and part of all proceeds go to veterans, so you can feel good about it, too.