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By Georgetta L. Morque

New eateries seem to be popping up all over in our area, giving us more options for healthy and tasty food. The most recent addition is CAVA, the Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant, which opened November 16 in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center.

Founded by three first-generation Greek-American childhood friends, CAVA aims to bring authentic Mediterranean flavors to a wider audience in a modern accessible format. The Rye Brook location is the D.C.-based company’s 41st in the country.

I was one of the first diners to try out CAVA’s signature custom greens and grain bowls, handcrafted dips and spreads, and house-made juices and teas. As I traveled down the aisle, the welcoming staff was very helpful in explaining the many choices.

You start out with a large bowl with a base – a choice of greens and grains – upon which to build your meal. Then, there’s a selection of up to three dips and spreads, followed by a protein, and as many as 14 toppings. At this point, your bowl is rather full, but top it off with a choice of dressings and a piece of pita bread and you have a flavorful, fresh, and filling meal.

For my base, I chose a mix of organic arugula, romaine, and spinach, and brown basmati rice. I then went for the crazy feta, roasted red pepper hummus, and eggplant and red pepper spreads — the latter being a bit spicy yet very tasty — cubes of grilled chicken seasoned with lemon and oregano, and a sampling of roasted cauliflower, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts. My dining companion was impressed with her combo of black lentils and braised lamb seasoned with turmeric, cayenne, garlic, and coriander, over her greens.

We enjoyed toppings such as cauliflower quinoa tabbouleh, pita crisps, Kalamata olives, and diced cucumbers. Dressings, including lemon herb tahini and sriracha Greek yogurt, can be ordered on the side. As we watched our bowls grow, we caught a glimpse of two chefs making fresh falafel behind the glass. Of the selection of teas and juices, we found the rosemary limeade a refreshing accompaniment.

The menu has a handy chart indicating the items that are gluten-, dairy- and soy-free, vegan and vegetarian. The popular dips and spreads, which contain no artificial additives or preservatives, are also sold at Whole Foods and specialty markets.

Although CAVA looks small, it extends in the back, providing seating for 66 patrons. Prices for the bowls start at $9.37 and a child’s meal is $6.25. The CAVA App enables you to order ahead and earn loyalty rewards.

CAVA is the answer to busy families seeking fresh, healthy food on the go, an athlete’s post- workout fueling, and the robust flavors of Mediterranean cuisine.

Captions:

#2 A sampling of the build-your-own meals at CAVA

#3 The friendly staff at CAVA in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center is ready to serve you.

Photos courtesy of CAVA


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