Out of Northwest: Cava Mezze in Arlington
I had heard of the sit-down Cava Mezze before. A friend of mine always described it as a replica of the Cava Grill in Tenleytown, where a waiter or waitress would provide a menu that contained all of your favorite meats, spreads and toppings that you would expect from Cava Grill. But after I stepped into the establishment located in Arlington, Virginia, I came to realize that this was no Tenleytown and this was definitely no Cava Grill.
Aside from sharing the same store logo and store owner, Cava Mezze had almost no similarities to Cava Grill. Once I sat down and noticed that 30-year-olds with bloody marys dominated the scene, I began to question my presence at the restaurant. I asked myself, will the waitress take me seriously? Will she laugh at my face when I politely decline the happy hour special due to my immature age? But more importantly, will she bear with me as I try to navigate this complicated menu that strikingly differs from the Cava menu that I’m used to?
Many questions ran through my mind after the hostess sat me down. Once Allison, the waitress, handed me the menu with some fancy glass-bottled water, I became extremely stressed and thought about leaving. The menu listed all of these foods that I had never associated with Cava Grill. Cava Mezze offered outrageous brunch offerings like french toast, Nutella waffles, grilled bacon and even a Mediterranean Mac ‘n Cheese. I had to take a step back and ask myself if I was in fact still at Cava.
I felt overwhelmed by the menu and all of the fancy drinks around me. However, I made the effort to confide in Allison that I had never been to Cava Mezze and that I had only eaten at the grill restaurant. After explaining my situation, she looked at me with caring eyes to let me know that we would cross the bridge from Cava Grill to Cava Mezze together.
She answered all of the questions that I had about the menu and didn’t even crack a smile after I declined the happy hour special. After ordering the Mediterranean Mac ‘n Cheese (a dish that substitutes Greek cheeses for cheddar) and hummus appetizer, my stress subsided and my mouth began to salivate.
Cava Mezze waitress, Allison. Photo by Freddy Rodriguez.
Surprisingly, Allison brought out the hummus appetizer relatively quickly. The packed room made me question the speediness of the Cava staff, but a full house didn’t hinder Allison’s ability to deliver the food in a timely manner.
The hummus appetizer came beautifully served with a side of pita bread, olives, olive oil and chili paste, like a kind of antipasto. The appetizer was a little pricy at $6, but let me remind you that this is Cava Mezze, not Cava Grill, so expect to pay a little more than you would in Tenleytown. Also, the price seemed insignificant when my friend and I finished the appetizer and then had little room in our stomachs for the main course.
Cava Mezze's hummus appetizer. Photo by Freddy Rodriguez.
Allison came to the table with the Mac ‘n Cheese as soon as I had finished the appetizer. Although the main course lacked the aesthetic beauty that I found in the hummus appetizer, the taste of the Greek cheeses and pasta led to my momentary death and journey to heaven. I only came back to life after I heard the loud sound my fork made when it struck the hard porcelain at the bottom of the bowl.
Mediterranean mac and cheese. Photo by Freddy Rodriguez.
My return to Earth allowed me to explore the restaurant a bit more and take in the young professional atmosphere. Cava Mezze provides a bar with countless wines, beers and mixed drinks. The restaurant also provides a large space where seats will always be available regardless of party size. With an aesthetically pleasing restaurant, a large menu and a nice brunch special ($30 for endless drinks and food), I would recommend Cava Mezze for those looking for a nice and hip brunch with a few friends or a date. Although the restaurant definitely caters to those 21 and over, I had a wonderful time at the sit-down Cava and advocate that you pay it a visit regardless of age or fear of complex Cava menus.
2940 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201
Metro Stop: Clarendon, Orange Line