You may have noticed that all of Zoe’s restaurants around town have closed and are being replaced by CAVA. Let me tell you, this is a delicious and welcome change. I was a fan of Zoe’s, but CAVA is an exciting and tasty replacement.
So What is CAVA?
CAVA is a fast-casual, health-conscious Mediterranean-based restaurant that was founded in 2010. It is making its first appearance in Louisiana this year. By early March Baton Rouge will have three CAVA locations all in the former Zoe’s locations (Highland & Perkins, Perkins Rowe, and Towne Center) and rumor has it more are to come. CAVA will also have locations in NOLA.
What do they Offer?
CAVA has bowls and pita-based wraps. You can select a pre-designed bowl/wrap or build your own. You work your way down the line choosing your items. Think Izzo’s or Moe’s.
Build Your Own Bowls: Greens + Grains, Salad, or Grains only. You can start with greens or grains, or both. The “greens” include basic romaine, baby spinach, arugula, a “superGreens” mix, or a “splendidGreens” mix. Grains include saffron basmati rice, brown rice, lentils, or “RightRice.” Rightrice is a low-carb version of rice made from lentils, chickpeas and pea flour. Then you add a “dip” or 2, a main or 2, toppings, and a dressing.
Pitas: To build your own pita you start with the dips and move down the line like the bowls.
Dips include things like tzatziki, hummus, spicy harissa, roasted eggplant and what they call “crazy feta.” It’s a slightly spicy whipped feta with jalapenos and onion.
Mains include roasted white sweet potatoes, harissa honey chicken (sweet & spicy), grilled chicken, lamb meatballs, roasted lamb, or falafel.
They offer a wide variety of toppings, from feta and Kalamata olives to lentils, pita strips, roasted corn, avocado, tomatoes and Persian cucumbers.
Dressings include vinaigrettes (balsamic date, Greek or hot harissa), yogurt dill, skhug, tahini (lemon herb or Caesar), or garlic.
They offer some unique beverage options: fresh classic lemonade, blueberry lavender, pineapple apple mint, cucumber mint, as well as tea and some unique sodas.
What to Get
My husband and I both decided to get custom bowls. I decided to do Green + Grains and selected their supergreens and rightrice. The rightrice was great and added some extra protein. I chose the spicy harissa dip, and warning, it is very spicy, but soooo good. I did a split main and got the grilled chicken and sweet potatoes. Then topped it off with Kalamata olives, roasted corn, pita strips and lentils. I got the balsamic date vinaigrette on the side. The sweetness of the vinaigrette was a great contrast to the spicy harissa. I was so happy with my dinner. As I was eating it I was contemplating when I could get back to CAVA to try something else, or just get the same thing.
My husband did a salad bowl and topped it with the braised lamb, several toppings and the lemon tahini. He said the lamb was so good and loved the flavors of his bowl. I shared my bowl with my 11-month-old. My 3-year-old was initially skeptical and declined to order a kids meal. The kid’s meal is a half-size pita served with chips and a drink. He later decided he wanted “rice” so we got another bowl and let him build his own. He happily ate his “rice,” and had leftovers to take home. As we were leaving he stated, “mommy, I enjoyed my dinner!” So, CAVA is also 3-year-old approved!
As an “allergy mom,” it is difficult to go out to eat. My daughter has a milk allergy and it is often difficult to find places or food that does not contain some kind of milk component. I am happy to report that CAVA was very allergy aware. There was a QR code posted on the counter to scan and see their allergen information. I told the server that we had a dairy allergy and she stated she would re-wash her hands and change her gloves again. She also walked with us down the line instead of passing our bowls down. I really appreciated the care and attention to detail. When I went back up to get my son’s bowl a staff member remembered that we had an allergy and asked if my son was the one with the allergy so he could alert the team members. He isn’t, but I thanked them for their care and concern.
All in all, I highly recommend CAVA for lunch or dinner. I genuinely can’t stop thinking about my custom bowl and how good it was. The kindness and hospitality truly enhanced an already great food experience. My whole family loved it and will return often. I hope you give it a try.