“Grilling kebabs is a cornerstone of Mediterranean cuisine that is rooted deeply in history and tradition,” says Maria Pourteymour, cofounder and chief cuisine officer at San Diego–based fast casual Luna Grill.

When she started the brand in 2004 with her husband, Sean, their marriage of Greek and Persian heritage came together around the open flame of the grill. “This traditional style of cooking showcases our high-quality meats and produce by bringing out the great flavors and succulence in our food,” she says.

With a long list of ways that it provides “real” foods—including local produce and non-GMO and grass-fed meat—Luna Grill offers an experience that customers can enjoy for both lunches on the go and date nights out. “How you prepare your food makes all the difference in the world,” Pourteymour says, and grilling is the way that Luna Grill chooses to cook practically everything. She points out grilling’s benefits: It melts off the fat (giving health), sears in the juices (giving taste), and cooks quickly (giving operational efficiency and the ability to cook to order).

“Plus, the options to grill are endless,” Pourteymour says. At Luna Grill, that includes grilled skewers of juicy tomatoes, Cornish hen, beef, squash, bell pepper, and everything in between. “We believe we are only as good as our core ingredients,” she says. Add fire, and it’s a winning combination. Luna Grill’s clean, high-caliber Mediterranean food can “stand alone and be delectable—no fluff, no smoke and mirrors necessary,” Pourteymour says. Smoke, however, is integral.

Health & Wellness, Menu Innovations, Story, Luna Grill