Cava Grill

1073 Broxton Ave
Los AngelesCA 90024

If only this spot opened up before I graduated UCLA... I would have come here everyday! Cava Grill is originally from Washington DC, and after multiple shops in the east coast, they finally made their way to Cali! They do have a more formal restaurant in the east coast, and Cava Grill is their casual version of their main restaurant. They do use sustainable and healthy ingredients, and are expanding to have their products such as hummus and harissa in grocery stores! 

The style is very similar to Chiptole where it is make it yourself- but instead of Mexican food, it's Mediterranean. The restaurant is huge- lots of tables but the line does get long. In the beginning, you choose your base of wrap, bowl, or salad, then you choose up to three dips or spreads! After your protein, you can choose as many toppings and dressings as you would like to top off your base! 

I decided to get a wrap with half regular and lamb meatball and tzatziki, hummus, harissa (spicy) for the spreads. For the toppings, I picked and chose my favorites, and the ingredients were so fresh and tasty. The spicy harissa sauce was the highlight of my meal, and the melange of the toppings made for the perfect wrap!

They also have a wide variety of drinks so I would definitely invest in a cup! I tried their lavender lemonade, a strawberry one, and their apple cinnamon drink. Got so bloated from trying the yummy flavors!

I was so impressed at how delicious my wrap was- I can see Cava Grill becoming the new Chiptole of Mediterranean food! Service was fast and efficient, and everyone knows what they're doing. I need to try their bowls next- hopefully they will open a location closer to me as they are doing things right here!

Yalla Mediterranean

9516 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

Sides of hummus and build your own steak plate.

Sides of hummus and build your own steak plate.

Yalla Mediterranean is a fast casual greek spot that is perfect for a casual lunch! They are based in the Bay area, and own multiple restaurants throughout California. We came in right before the lunch rush, and got almost everything on the menu so that we could try everything. The concept is very similar to Chipotle and lemonade where you build your own plate, wrap, or salad and choose your toppings. When you choose your meat, the employee actually places your kebab on a kebab conveyer belt on the back and it gets cooked as you walk down the line! Super cool- check it out when you come here! 

Kebab Conveyer Belt

Kebab Conveyer Belt

I ordered the steak kebab with a plate (shown above), and I chose the kale salad, potatoes, and couscous as my three toppings. You also get the option of yellow rice, lentils, and roasted vegetables which I got. After the meat is fired, you get your plate- quick and easy. It also comes with a side of pita bread, and ask them for tzatziki sauce (my favorite)! They also have a spicy sauce that goes great with your meat if you like spicy. 

Salmon plate

Salmon plate

Everything I received in my plate was delicious; the steak was juicy and flavorful, and the sides were fantastic! My friend got the salmon plate which he really enjoyed as well. My table also got the hummus plate to share, and I loved the variety of hummus that they offer.

Side of hummus.

Side of hummus.

Secret menu item- GET THE CHICKEN SHAWARMA FRIES. Trust me. Our group killed the fries in seconds! For drinks, I would recommend the pomegranate lemonade; I could not stop drinking it as it was so refreshing! Yay for free refills!

Chicken Shawarma Fries

Chicken Shawarma Fries

Yalla also offers different types of pre-made wraps where you can just choose your meat. We got the Jerusalem wrap which comes with hummus, tomato cucumber, french fries, cabbage pickles, and feta ranch. The wrap we got was delicious; I actually liked it better than the plate- definitely coming back to order this again! 

Jerusalem Wrap with pork

Jerusalem Wrap with pork

For dessert, we got the greek frozen yogurt with baklava and honey. This was the best idea ever, as it was AMAZING. Whoever thought of adding baklava to frozen yogurt was genius! This is another MUST ORDER- trust me- you won't regret it! I'm seriously coming back just for this!

Greek frozen yogurt with baklava and honey 

Greek frozen yogurt with baklava and honey 

The price was very reasonable and food comes out very quickly. I can see this franchise being the next big thing- Yalla Mediterranean definitely knows what they're doing! Seriously loved everything here- next time I'm coming back to try their wraps!

The Halal Guys

3033 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

After having The Halal Guys in New York and falling in love (to the point where I brought three bowls back to Cali for myself), I was beyond ecstatic to hear that a Halal Guys has opened in SoCal! The main difference is that Halal Guys is a street cart in NYC, and is a brick and mortar shop out here. It is a little more pricey than the one in New York, which makes sense as they do have an actual shop they have to pay rent for as well as the shipment of the sauce. Other than that, everything is essentially the same; the sauces are even shipped from New York to maintain the consistency in taste! 

There is a TON of hype surrounding the chicken and rice bowl, but it's really just a damn good meal that will be sure to satisfy you. I usually get the mix bowl with lamb and chicken, which is in my opinion, the best. The chicken and lamb are full of flavor, and each bowl comes with long grained orange rice with the side toppings including lettuce, tomatoes, and pita. I usually love drenching my food in the white sauce (their white sauce is like crack to me), and I always put a little too much red sauce to spice things up. The red sauce is a little deceiving as it is SUPER spicy, so if you can't handle it, don't put too much on there! 

I've been dreaming of eating Halal Guys again ever since I left New York, and that dream has finally turned into a reality. I'm so glad that Halal Guys is now only a 45 minute drive away instead of a plane flight across the nation. I was lucky enough to have a friend bring it up to LA for me all the way from Costa Mesa, and it tasted just as amazing as the one I had in New York. Can't wait to visit the actual shop and eat it fresh!