I had the pleasure to join other Tacoma types last night at the Zara Mediterranean Cuisine's pre-opening reception. Local officials like Mayor Strickland, Council Members Boe, Mello, Woodards were on-hand to welcome the new business downtown as were Pacific Grill's Jacob Rose and perhaps Pacific Grill's biggest fan (and fantastic local Realtor) Marguerite Giguere (here's her Zara review). After getting a drink of an intimidatingly tall pilzner at the panoramic bar space I joined the Weekly Volcano's Jennifer Johnson (and her first look) and her friend Mike in sampling a range of what Zara will offer up when they open to the public this Friday.
Though I'm not a prodigious note taker there were easy stand-outs for me. The tabouli salad wrap was fresh and light but with bold flavors that brightly popped in my mouth. The goat cheese bruschetta was wonderfully savory for such a small bite with bread toasted just right before becoming a brick. Though I wanted to like the lamb offerings the chicken kabobs were tender, juicy, and flavorful. Once we had some tzatziki sauce all was well with the drier balls but the lamb wraps were stunning all on their own with just a bit of spice and even a kick of cinnamon. Their walnut and pistachio baklava added a great end to our dining with a brilliant balance of flaky crunch and gooey sweetness but with the pistachios popping out as a new experience for me with this Mediterranean dessert. A sweetness of the belly dancing kind is also a treat that will mix the dining experience at Zara up a few times a night so tip them well, clap, and enjoy a beautiful form of dance that many folks almost feel embarrassed to watch. Don't. They're not strippers. Just have fun and let them know you appreciate the movement and color they bring to an evening at Zara!
Dishes for lunch range from $10-15 and the dinner menu easily tops out above $20 a plate. My hope is that to keep people excited about the Mediterranean and Pacific duo across the street from one another Zara will bring another great happy hour to downtown Tacoma. Overall it's a great use of a great space downtown where new, fresh flavors will flow onto your plate from another part of the world.