In Greece, the word “Cava” means wine cellar or the table wines aged in wine caves. Cava is also the name a new fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant that opened Oct. 1 in Encinitas.
The cafeteria-style Cava eatery in the Encinitas Town Center on El Camino Real is the first San Diego County location of a Washington, D.C., based restaurant company with 75 locations nationwide. A second will open in this spring in the One Paseo mixed-use community in Carmel Valley.
Cava was started in 2011 by childhood friends Ted Xenohristos, Ike Grigoropoulos, and executive chef Dimitri Moshovitis, who wanted to re-create and share the Greek and Mediterranean dishes they grew up eating. They opened their first store in Rockville, Md., and have gradually expanded to the West Coast. There are now 11 locations in Southern California, with more to come.
The restaurants offer Chipotle-style service, where diners can build their own salads, bowls and wraps, layering on their choice of more than 50 items, including flavored hummus spreads and dips, roasted vegetables, proteins and dressings on a bed of grains or rice, salad or pita.
Protein options include falafel, spicy lamb meatballs, roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, meatballs and braised lamb. Spreads include tzatziki, harissa, and a variety of hummuses and seasonal toppings include pickled vegetables, Kalamata olives, cauliflower quinoa tabouleh and pearl couscous.
Everything is made in-house daily at each location and the roasted vegetables rotate seasonally. The fall/winter options include Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots and cauliflower.
Cava is one of many chef-driven restaurant concepts that has expanded into the counter-service-style fast-casual market over the past decade. The fast-growing business sector reduces labor costs and menu prices but offers customers a higher-quality product than traditional fast food restaurants.
Hours: 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Where: 1042 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas Town Center, Encinitas
Phone: (442) 200-6002