Much has changed in the eight years since founders Ike Grigoropoulos and Ted Xenohristos and chef Dimitri Moshovitis built their original Rockville restaurant while living with family to afford the cost. The mezzeteria’s beloved dips now line Whole Foods’ shelves, while fast-casual spinoff Cava Mezze Grill has expanded to eight Washington locations and counting.
Still, the lively, dark-wood restaurants—also in Clarendon and on Capitol Hill—maintain the warm feel of neighborhood joints, while the kitchen sends out rustic Greek hits. Freshly rolled grape leaves, those typically underwhelming staples of Mediterranean cuisine, come stuffed with bright herbs; miniature lamb gyros pack more flavor than many larger cousins; and shrimp sautéed with tomatoes, feta, and plenty of garlic are a reminder not to dismiss simplicity. The inspired cocktails are worth a try, especially a refreshing gin concoction with cucumber and grapefruit juices.
- Brussels sprouts with olive bread crumbs
- Grilled-haloumi salad
- Lollipop chicken
- Lamb meatballs