10 Popular Cava Menu Items Ranked Worst To Best

Cava is a fast-casual dining chain serving up Mediterranean-inspired fare at nearly 300 locations nationwide. Its success comes as no surprise considering Cava's commitment to fresh flavors, great customer service, and the option to personally build and create your own bowl or pita-wrapped meal. But sometimes, clicking through each page and choosing everything from meats to vegetables to sauces is a major time-suck, and you can end up with a meal that tastes better in your imagination than in reality. It's okay, everyone's been there, from layering too many toppings on a pizza to squeezing so much into a burrito that it can't even close. Basically, sometimes it's better to leave the design to the experts.

Cava offers some staple, pre-designed menu options that are easy to click into your cart on busy days. Four wraps and six bowls later, we had taste-tested them all, finding plenty of positives and far fewer negatives. It made the ranking process hard when everything was just so darn delicious. So just be aware that you seriously, legitimately can't go wrong; Cava always delivers, but sometimes it goes above and beyond to blow our minds. So without further adieu, let's talk our way through some Cava together.

10. Chicken + RightRice Bowl

This Chicken + RightRice bowl feels like a bit of a cop-out, and here's the reason why. It has all the same ingredients of the Greek Salad; the basic grilled chicken, cucumbers, tomato, onions (but pickled), feta crumbles, tzatziki, and classic hummus. The only major difference is that it replaces half of the greens with RightRice, aka rice made from lentil, pea, and chickpea flours. Also, this bowl drops the olives, a move that many customers will view as a welcome dismissal. The RightRice might be a great substitute for regular rice for anyone who needs a vegetable boost. But while alternative flours in something like pasta or bread might be a godsend for the gluten-conscious, since rice is naturally gluten-free, the substitute is a little less necessary — especially when there are already so many vegetables in this bowl.

Basically, the Chicken + RightRice bowl tasted a little redundant to us when you could have the Greek Salad or a bowl with regular rice instead. We do love that the greens are all arugula because that sprightly flavor comes through and always goes so well with Mediterranean flavors. If you like rice alternatives like RightRice, you might like our personal favorite, cauliflower rice. It's a great, fun way to use up a head of cauliflower if you have one lying around in your fridge, and luckily, it's really easy to whip up (honestly it's probably easier than regular rice).

9. Tahini Caesar Bowl

The Tahini Caesar bowl looks jazzier than it actually is thanks to those wonton crisps on top, huh? Just kidding, they aren't wonton crisps, even though they really look like it. They are the same pitas that wrap up many of the items on this list, just baked into chips and chopped into wafer-thin matchsticks. Eat them fast or they get soggy.

Okay, now for the rest of the bowl. It consists of Cava's go-to grilled chicken, classic hummus, pita crisps, rosey pickled onions, and crumbled feta, all atop a combination of romaine and arugula for the greens. Alongside, or drizzled on top, is the Tahini Caesar dressing that gives this bowl its name. Truth be told, taste testers found the Tahini Caesar bowl pretty boring compared to some of Cava's spicier (both literally and figuratively) menu options. Ours was also regrettably small, and barely filled half of the bowl it came in. Let's just hope that isn't standard. The dressing has a nice nutty hint of sesame from the tahini, which is played up in the matching tahini-spiked classic hummus. But it didn't necessarily go with the egginess of a regular Caesar dressing and maybe would have been better as a vinaigrette. A great tahini is a must in lots of Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean recipes, particularly hummus, so be sure to choose a good one. We tested and ranked 13 store-bought tahinis for just that purpose.

8. Greek Salad Bowl

Cava makes a mean Greek salad. The garden variety Greek consists of lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese, and it always hits the spot when temperatures rise. Cava beefs it up with chicken, ironically. It's the same basic grilled poultry that the chain does so well, and it picks up a lot of the Greek flavors from the bowl around it.

It comes with a Greek vinaigrette, but Cava doesn't stop there. The bowl also includes two scoops of extra dips. These creamy accompaniments, hummus, and tzatziki, are the best parts of the meal. The description might coax you into thinking that the star of the show is the vinaigrette, but it's just okay. We have had our fair share of better salad dressings, and this one's nothing special.

The hummus and tzatziki both taste fresh and rich and are more than enough to make your dish lusciously creamy. The salad hits every mark, but since it doesn't incorporate any pizzazz, it can't rank above the more flavorful menu options. Still, it's a high-quality, high-protein, highly nutritious meal that can hit the spot if you're craving a Greek salad but want it to tide you over until the next meal. This would be a great bowl to add some of Cava's homemade pita chips to. Then, with the hummus, chicken, and vegetable toppings, it's basically a Mediterranean version of nachos. That's something that everyone can probably get behind.

7. Greek Chicken Pita

Greek Chicken Pita is essentially the Greek Salad stuffed into a pita wrap. Since this is their first appearance, let's hone in on those wraps a bit. Firstly, they're very thick and doughy. If you're used to puny pitas that are just a few steps above a flour tortilla, you will probably be thoroughly impressed. They have a nice mouthfeel and taste nicely homemade, but they don't have quite as much flavor as we would have liked. The ideal pita tastes slightly tangy and a little buttery, and soaks up the aromas of whatever savory spiced meats get folded up inside. Cava's pita is a little impenetrable. We also wish that there was just more filing in general because we inevitably ended up bready final bites. Overall, we like the pitas well enough, but really like them when fresh and warm.

Be careful of those olives, though; as olives tend to do, they infiltrate every lettuce leaf they touch with a briney, almost somewhat fishy flavor. Another extra ingredient that adds some salty umami flavor? Pickles. The addition might not seem to make a lot of sense, but they actually add a fun flair to the wrap that takes it a step above other equivalent premade pitas you could pick up at any old grocery store. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic staples — basically, everything you would find in a typical Greek salad — so the pickles might make or break it depending on your preferences.

6. Spicy Chicken + Avocado Pita

Well well well, it's nice to see such a generously sized wrap. The filling-to-pita ratio was on point this time. The Spicy Chicken + Avocado Pita doesn't skimp on taste, texture, or quality of ingredients. The one blip is the slightly spotty avocado, but everyone knows how difficult it is to choose and preserve the perfect avocado. The harissa honey chicken is a delicious twist on the regular chicken, spicy and sweet at the same time. The bright-red hot harissa vinaigrette ups the ante and brings even more of the tastebud-tingling flavor of harissa, an energetic roasted red pepper sauce situation.

The chicken and avocado pairing leads to a natural mental association with another very popular chain. Yes, any comparisons to Chipotle would be very much in order, considering that the basic format of food is virtually the same. Bowl or wraps/tortillas? Pick your protein, and have it over a bed of grains, salad, or a combination. What toppings would you like? And do you want to pay extra for a side of Crazy Feta? If you love the customization and fresh flavors of the Mexican fast-casual behemoth, you should definitely give its Mediterranean cousin a shot.

5. Lemon Chicken Bowl

The Lemon Chicken bowl is a middle ground for Cava consumers. The nuggets of chicken (not to be confused with breaded, fast-food chicken nuggets, whoops) stayed moist and tender even as leftovers, eaten cold from the fridge the next day. Yes, clearly this tasting and ranking process is exhaustive. We would not advise doing the same with some of the other menu items, particularly falafel and pita. Both get dry and dense if you can't heat them up in the oven, so at least give them a zap in the microwave. The chicken, meanwhile, does double duty as a chilled salad without missing a beat. Last but not least, there's so much chicken in this bowl, which gives Cava major points in comparison to other places that scoop up tiny portions of the prized proteins.

Unfortunately, the corn is overkill and unnecessary, and it works particularly badly when not super fresh from the Cava kitchen. It all looks very pretty, though, with a dollop of peachy red pepper hummus, golden corn, and Barbie-pink pickled onions. If you're looking for a lighter meal that still includes all the savory flavor and protein of chicken, go for this one. To tone down the lemon flavor and add even more sunset-worthy color, swap out their preserved lemon vinaigrette for the candy-apple-colored spicy harissa dressing. If you're a lemon lover, that vinaigrette hits. And Cava's regular plain hummus is nice, but this roasted red pepper one is really on the money.

4. Crispy Falafel Pita

If you open the pita and feel a little weirded out by the color palette, don't worry, it's just the avid burgundy color of the red cabbage. It gets everywhere, and truly it's a little too much. The fillings get somewhat muddled, and all around a bit too wet without the flavor that a dressing or spread would lend to the meal. Also, last but not least, it's not very appetizing to look at. Everything turns greyish as opposed to vibrant and bright-colored. But that's the end of the criticism: The sheer amount of flavor inside these next few bowls and wraps left this team thoroughly impressed.

The falafels have visible tiger stripes of herbs, which adds tons of authenticity. The secret weapon in this pita wrap, however, is the roasted eggplant spread. Eggplant has a natural smokey flavor that pairs sensationally with the rough-hewn herbs and spices of falafel. The menu calls it a "Sleeper hit!" and we completely agree. It's good enough to have as a side you can purchase all by itself, like the hummus(es) or Crazy Feta. Anyway, the flavors of eggplant and chickpeas are also more unique and unusual than the common hummus-and-chicken duo, so if you want something that's really going to change up your lunch game, go for this one. You might find yourself going vegetarian and picking falafels a lot more often. We'd be looking forward to our Meatless Mondays all week long if this was on the menu.

3. Market Spice Bowl

The Market Spice Bowl, reportedly the reigning customer favorite, includes a somewhat kitchen-sink-style combination of ingredients. It both works beautifully and falls flat in turns, and it took quite a few bites of all the various ingredients to figure out where exactly the hits and misses happened. The meat of the bowl is falafel, so eat it while it's hot and crisp. The nuggets could be a little crisper, sure, but more flavorful? Unsure. Though "spice" is in the title, it's a little misleading if you expect something that has your eyes watering. The herbs and spices mean that there is a ton of bright, zesty flavor and rich, warm, toasty aromatics. Good falafel is tricky, but at least Cava really nailed that home-fried flavor even if the edges are slightly soggy.

Overall, the falafel is a hit, and so is the red pepper hummus which seems to be far too small a scoop to impart any real impact (but impact it does). But the corn is a miss. It doesn't make a lot of sense from a flavor standpoint, and even less from a textural standpoint; the kernels get chewy and a bit plasticky, and since they are slippery little fellows, it's hard to avoid them in a distracted forkful. The broccoli was a surprisingly good addition, though. Through the pros and cons, without being cheesy, you just can't fight the flavor in this bowl. It's a delicious whirlwind we would absolutely get again.

2. Spicy Lamb Meatball Pita

Many people who eat meat tend to mostly fill their plates with chicken, or ground beef, and maybe a nice steak once in a while. Lamb takes a little more thought and effort and can be polarizing. Meatballs are a great way to dilute the gamey undertones a little bit, while further boosting the savoriness with garlic and Middle Eastern spices. Each meatball is tender and juicy and has enough flavor to eat alone or dipped into any of the sauces and dressings. Whether or not you're chummy with lamb, these are absolutely delicious and certainly worth a try. And when the chicken pieces tended to be small, sometimes more like shavings, it was quite nice to really sink our teeth into these.

This was definitely one of the most flavorful of Cava's menu items. The two dressings pile it on: skhug adds heat and brightness (literally, it's bright neon green), and the garlic one will satisfy even the most avid fans of that gloriously stinky allium. The pickled onions are a good touch, too; Cava seems to have an affinity for pickled items. If you love the flavor of lamb but don't always know what to do with it, it's time to step out of your comfort zone. Peruse our list of 16 best lamb recipes for ideas. Stay close to Cava with Mediterranean Lamb Bolognese with Fettuccine, or go for something unusual like Lamb Shanks with Grilled Lettuce and Peas.

1. Harissa Avocado Bowl

This Harissa Avocado bowl looks like someone through every great idea they had into a Cava bowl, tweaked the results a little to make it the best it could be, and put it on the menu. But hey, it really works. There's just so much flavor and texture, from the harissa and honey-roasted chicken to the silken pickled onions. And that Crazy Feta situation? It's crazy good. It's lush and creamy, very salty in an attractive and moreish way, and basically an excuse to eat more cheese. Have your feta two ways, in both crumbles and dip! If you love it so much that you consider ordering cava mostly just for the Crazy Feta, consider making a version of it at home. All you need is a food processor or blender, and if you have the cheese itself, you're basically already there.

The avocado gets brown very quickly, and there's that corn again, but besides this obvious caveat, the creamy, buttery slices add so much body to the bowl. The flavor can get a little lost underneath all the other components, but the texture is a big plus. It also means that, if you order your sauces and dressings on the side so that you can add more or less depending on your preference, you're less likely to run out of said dressings since the meal is already a little "dressed." It's a favorite bowl from one of the best chains we know. Thanks, Cava.