100 Best Restaurants 2012: Cava

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


There are as many places to graze on small plates as there are tweets at a rock concert. This multi-venue venture from three Montgomery County natives brings a hearty, old-school feel to the genre. The moody lighting and exposed brick are staples of many a resto-lounge, but the warm welcome and unassuming vibe aren’t as common. The blue-jeaned, black-T-shirted servers earnestly inquire about your happiness as if this were a family-style Greek diner. The kitchen’s handiwork reinforces the something-old/something-new theme, packaging dishes from the Greek isles into stylized miniatures without stinting on the garlic.

What to get: Roasted-red-pepper dip; taramasalata; haloumi-cheese sliders; grilled lamb chops with crisped potatoes; spicy lamb sliders; the day’s fish, simply grilled with lemon and herbs; grilled baby octopus; braised meatballs in tomato sauce; disco fries; Bolognese over pappardelle; Greek yogurt with honey.

Rockville location open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner. DC location open Monday for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner. Clarendon location open Monday for dinner, Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.

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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 Logan Circle.