If you shop at Giant in Bethesda or any of the Whole Foods in the Rockville/Bethesda area, I’m sure you’ve seen Cava’s packaged hummus, tzatziki, tabouleh, and crazy feta. I noticed these a couple months ago and was so excited to see that their success was spilling outside the restaurant walls and that their delicious dips were more accessible. All the items taste just like what the restaurant serves and are worth the couple extra dollars.
Upon entering Cava, you immediately see the dark, intimate setting and hear the boisterous conversations in this small restaurant (it holds about 25 tables). The seats are very close together, but there’s something about this place where that doesn’t bother me. Everyone in the restaurant always seems to be having a great time talking and laughing, but it is also very possible to have a nice, romantic dinner. Large groups would be hard to handle here as the footprint is so small, but that would be my only “gripe.”
The food at Cava is out of this world; I don’t say that too often, but it is true. As their name says, they only serve small and they are all delicious. We’ve just about everything on the menu, and it seems that everything just tastes better and better each time we order it. A plate of olives, harissa, and pita are delivered to your table as soon as you are seated. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but it’s so good! Other than the pita plate and dips, we don’t normally get an appetizer although a good friend of mine, Adam Silverman, loves to order the Saganaki, also known as the flaming cheese, as an appetizer – this is literally Greek cheese that is lightly breaded, 151 proof rum is dumped on top, then lit on fire to heat and soften it. I have to say that it’s pretty average as far as cheese goes, but it is a fun dish to order (and if you don’t want to order it, I promise someone else in the restaurant will while you are there).
For dinner, scallops with risotto, lamb chops, eggplant with meat sauce, and either the chicken souvlaki or the chicken pita are always ordered. Outside of these items, we’ve had the spanikopita, braised meatballs, lollipop chicken, mini gyros, Cava mac and cheese, and the crazy feta. These dishes are all really good, but we tend to stick with what we love and throw one of these in every now and again. Sometimes we’re just looking for something light and we go here for their salads – the village salad and the rocket salad are both our favorites and you can get gyro meat added on top to make it a full meal. If you couldn’t have guessed it, everything here is worth trying and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Cava opened up a restaurant on Capitol Hill, in DC, but it’s not quite the same as their original Rockville location (or maybe I’m just a little bit partial). They also have a smaller, Chipotle-style spot in Bethesda on Bethesda Row where you stand in line and choose to make a salad or sandwich from a couple different meats and toppings. I’ve tried the Bethesda location for lunch and wasn’t so thrilled, but if you need a Cava meal and you’re pressed on time, then this is a good option.
Something to also note is a rumor around the mean streets of MoCo – evidently Cava and Mamma Lucia’s are pairing up and one of their new restaurants is coming to Potomac soon. I know there are plans for a restaurant in Park Potomac (near the Harris Teeter and Founding Farmers), but I’m not sure if this is going to be Cava or the new partnership restaurant. I’ll be sure to keep you posted because that is going to be a must try!
If you haven’t been to Cava, you must make plans to go soon. Don’t be scared away by the wait at the front door; you can always go on a Monday when you can make reservations or just have a seat at the bar with a glass of wine while you wait (the Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir is one of my favorites there)… it’s definitely worth it!