Something is in the air. Attracting everything from corporate giants like the Oprah-approved True Food Kitchen to smaller projects like chef Philip Speer’s mysterious upcoming project at the corner of Fifth and Colorado streets, downtown Austin dining is seeing a huge resurgence in 2018.
The latest eatery to join the burgeoning scene comes courtesy of Washington D.C.-based chain Cava. After entering the Austin market with the openings of locations on Bee Caves Road and the Drag in June, the fast-casual Mediterranean eatery opens its new outpost at 515 Congress Ave. on August 10, according to a release. A fourth location is scheduled to open in the Domain in 2019.
Founded by longtime friends Ted Xenohristos, Ike Grigoropoulos, and Dimitri Moshovitis, Cava adopts the build-your-own approach of restaurants like Chipotle by letting guests customize their own entree from bases like pita, lentils, and salad greens.
Cava sets itself apart with the variety of toppings available. Instead of just offering expected ingredients like hummus and falafel, the restaurant has a large range of add-ons to appeal to contemporary tastes. Available proteins include everything from lamb meatballs to braised beef which are freshened up with toppings like cauliflower and quinoa tabbouleh, white bean salad, and dressings that range from spicy apricot to green harissa.
Unlike some similar chains, Cava tries to source as regionally as possible to ensure peak produce, and menus are rotated to take advantage of the season. The summer menu includes a fresh roasted vegetable medley with grape tomatoes, button mushrooms, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes.
As they did with the opening of the campus Cava, the restaurant has partnered with Austin nonprofit Urban Roots for a preview day August 9 before the store officially opens. From 11 am-1 pm and 5-7 pm, the downtown eatery will offering complementary meals while soliciting donations for the youth leadership program.