Add to the list of national brands opening up shop in OC is CAVA, a Mediterranean-esque full-service chain originally from Washington, D.C. Dive into their mezze eats with a build-your-own grain bowl that begins with a base of fluffy basmati rice or earthy black lentils. From there, the combination of layers are a Rubik's Cube of possibilities, all featuring locally sourced vegetables, produce and protein from California farmers. Whatever the results, the end is always filling yet light, with each ingredient maintaining its flavor against the others. Pro tip: be sure to order their chef-inspired seasonal vegetables and Crazy Feta, offered in their product line of small batch dips and spreads that can be found at whole foods.
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CAVA Mezze Grill, 3972 Barranca Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 200-7998; www.cava.com