100 Best Restaurants 2008: Cava

No. 76: Cava

Cuisine: Family recipes passed down by grandmas, aunts, and mothers of chef/owner Dimitri Moschovitis and his partners, Ted Xenohristos and Ike Grigoropoulos, get a modern spin on this lengthy menu of mezze, Greece’s answer to tapas. The idea is to order a round of plates and share.

Mood: Flickering votives, dim lighting, and a youngish crowd at the bar drinking cocktails (there are more than 20) give the smallish space the vibe of a happening nightspot, while vintage family photos lend a homespun feel—as does the service, which is surprisingly attentive given the crowds.

Best for: A celebration, diners on a budget, families with kids—it’s so loud, no one will hear an errant yelp or two.

Best dishes: Salty taramosalata; tender, olive-oil-shiny stuffed grape leaves; pan-fried tiropita with goat cheese plus feta for added zing; Opa Opa Shrimp steeped in ouzo and dill; grilled baby lamb chops with olive-oil fries; charcoal-grilled sausage; loukoumades, house-made Greek doughnuts, soaked in honey and cinammon.

Insider tips: Cava doesn’t take reservations. The drink of choice with mezze is ouzo—the smooth Plomari is served—but there are interesting Greek wines, too. Look for $5 martinis on Mondays and half-price bottles of wine Tuesdays.

Service: ••

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.