Chef Emin Tekin is giving Chico something to be very happy about-- a new and exotic downtown restaurant.
With the losses of 2nd and Main staple stores-- Pluto's, Zucchini and Vine, and Peet's Coffee just to name a few-- here at Anika Burke we have felt the absence of our neighbors in recent years. Oya Mediterranean Grill is helping bring life back to Downtown Chico while providing an exciting new eatery that offers not only delicious food, but options for those who are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free as well.
The owner, Chef Emin Tekin, attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco in 2003 and has been in the restaurant business since 2006. Since then, he has had several successful concepts in the Bay Area. He feels that food is his passion, not his work. Oya Mediterranean Grill is his first restaurant since he sold his other concepts in 2017, and it is his first in Northern California.
His story of how he came to Chico is one that is familiar to many. Chef Tekin was invited to visit Chico by a local and immediately fell in love with our vibrant small town. After returning to the Bay, he felt he “left his heart” in Chico, and has since decided to move here with his wife and children. He hopes to find a home here and, if Oya is successful, open up other restaurants featuring different cuisines in the area.
Chef Tekin told me the word "oya" means anything handcrafted or homemade. At Oya, everything is made from scratch-- no canned food, freezers, or microwaves are used in the creation of their dishes. They have a “farm to table” approach for this concept. They want people to know that while Mediterranean food might be a bit more exotic than the previous cuisine that inhabited the space, they have plenty of mainstream options for those who want something a bit more familiar. They serve options such as salads, beef, chicken, and salmon along with traditional Mediterranean items such as dolma, gyros, falafel wraps, lamb shish kebabs, and Kurdish baklava.
The owner recommends the lemon beef gyros for lunch, one (or a few!) of their wonderful kebab skewers for dinner, or, if you are bringing your family or a few friends, the family style mixed grill platter. The platter contains items such as lamb, beef, chicken, rice pilaf, and vegetables and is great to eat family-style.
I had the opportunity to sample several of the appetizers offered at the establishment. The first was a classic Mediterranean tzatziki (my personal favorite!), the second was a delicious eggplant dip called baba ganoush, and the third was a wonderful hummus dip with olive oil and paprika. I also got to try a feta, olive, and tanini sampler plate along with some freshly baked bread that they make in-house. The food was amazing, but what really kept me captivated was the friendly staff and the welcoming feeling they radiated.
Oya Mediterranean Grill opened earlier this week in record time, and are ready to welcome patrons with open arms. They offer both dine-in and take-out options, and they say that “no catering job is too small.”
Oya Mediterranean Grill, located at 201 Main Street in Downtown Chico, is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30am-10pm, and 10:30am-9pm on Sundays.
Photos by AQ Photography.