Note: This post is part of an ongoing blog series called #costamesa365 where the author is striving to shop only* in her city of Costa Mesa, for a year.

It’s been 92 full days since starting my #costamesa365 journey, and I’m still searching for the perfect, convenient, affordable, fresh, grab-and-go salad lunch. It’s an ongoing search I’ve loosely termed “Roughage Reconnaissance.”

For previous forays into my mission to find the perfect Costa Mesa salad situation, read:

Day 3: Stone Sober

Day 5: Roughage Reconnaissance

Day 16: Chop Shop

Day 28: Kale of Two Cities

I’d heard from a few friends that I should give CAVA a go. It’s a fast-casual chain with lots of locations, and there’s one on 17th Street in Eastside Costa Mesa.

Described as the “Mediterranean Chipotle” – CAVA specializes in “build your own” bowls, salads, and pita wraps. Sounds promising.

I mean…

Love me some Mediterranean food. (Hummus is my homeboy.)

Love me some Chipotle. (Cheap, and very customized.)

I’m in!

So in typical “I’m so busy, I don’t realize I’m hungry until I’M SO STARVING I’LL CHEW YOUR FACE OFF” fashion, I put off ordering my first CAVA until I was totally hangry.

Desperate to calorie up as quickly as possible, I googled their phone number only to find out they have an ordering app. Yes! A convenient ordering app is also “very Chipotle.”

So, I went onto the CAVA app and it explained that each meal is build-your-own, made from layers of options. You start with a base and work your way up to lunch from there.

The build-it-yourself layers are:

I didn’t really know what I was doing – there were so many choices! I just clicked everything that sounded delicious, up to the max allowed. (Of course, I opted for the free pita, too.) Here’s what I ended up ordering:

Costa Mesa 365: Grain and salad bowl with falafel at CAVA Mezze Grill in Costa Mesa, Orange County, California.

I went to pick it up, and found plenty of parking behind the CAVA restaurant. I entered, and stood in line at the register behind a few other customers. Once it was my turn, the guy at the cash register looked at me quizzically. I gave him my name, and said I came to get a to-go order. He gestured to a large, alphabetized shelving unit lining a nearby wall.

Ohhhhhh!

Turns out, CAVA is so completely grab-and-go, that you literally order on the app, pay on the app, then snatch your bag of food off a shelf.

No waiting.

No talking.

Fresh food – procured as instantaneously as takeout – from a shelf.

And I gotta say, for as randomly as I ordered, the food was delicious!

I think it’s probably the kind of thing that’s hard to mess up, because all your options adhere to a similar “Mediterranean” flavor profile. Check it out:

Costa Mesa 365: Falafel bowl at CAVA, 17th Street, Eastside Costa Mesa, Orange County, California.

I ate the whole thing and must say… I’m now a huge fan of the food! I mean, it’s not high-end like Zov’s. Meals are simple, but really fresh and taste good. Again, a lot like Chipotle!

Since trying CAVA earlier this month, I’ve already been back twice, and now have my husband hooked. The convenience, variety and price are hard to beat when you’re trying to eat healthfully, on the fly.

If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean, give it a Costa Mesa try.

Maybe you’ll soon be craving CAVA along with me.

See you on the shelf! ♥

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*We will always start by shopping / looking in Costa Mesa, first. But if we really need something and an alternative is nowhere to be found in Costa Mesa, we’ll stray. Also, as parents, we’ve decided that certain kid-related things (mainly educational) will need to remain baked in.