100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 89 Cava Mezze

Cava Mezze's Rockville location. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

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.

Don’t miss:

  • Taramasalata
  • Brussels sprouts with olive bread crumbs
  • Grilled-haloumi salad
  • Lollipop chicken
  • Lamb meatballs

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.