I have a new top lunch spot. My normal routine of rotating between the kale Caesar at Sweetgreen, a giant smoothie from Juice Generation, and a square of zucchini topped focaccia from Eataly has been interrupted this week with a new addition: Cava Grill. It seems that food entrepreneurs in DC have mastered the art of making healthy, filling, fresh, beautiful lunches, with both Sweetgreen and Cava Grill being founded there in recent years. Thankfully, both these business have now spread their wings and flown off across America, much to the delight of those of us who don't live in Washington.
Cava Grill opened a couple of weeks ago right by Union Square, and I’ve become a full-blown grain bowl addict since then. The food at this new lunch spot is predominantly Greek (and less dominantly broadly Mediterranean) cuisine, and the totally customizable menu features all my favorite flavors and ingredients such as feta, tahini, hummus, eggplant, falafel, cabbage slaw, lightly pickled vegetables, crunchy pita chips, nutty brown rice, and wonderfully spicy harissa. While your first visit may seem daunting as there’s no ‘suggested’ bowls or wraps available, meaning you have to make all the many decisions yourself, I’m pretty sure that you couldn’t make a bad lunch from these options, no matter how hard you tried.
I’ve already stumbled on a favorite combination, which starts with a base of brown rice, arugula, and baby spinach, is topped with crazy feta (feta smashed with jalapeños), hummus, and tzatziki, crispy falafel balls are thrown over that, and then the whole thing is sprinkled with cabbage slaw, cherry tomatoes and lightly pickled onions, chopped pita chips, and another sprinkling of feta, before being coated in a herby tahini dressing. All this is also served with a mini pita, in case you're still hungry. This lunchtime feast is worth waiting in line for, no matter how slowly the crowd of people seem to be progressing towards the checkout. And if you’re extra hungry, there are Ovenly chocolate chip cookies available for dessert. Just FYI.
Cava Grill, 143 4th Avenue, New York, NY 10003