Those who have asked me what I miss about home know that three words come out of my mouth all too quickly: "sweetgreen and Cava!" Residents of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) inevitably turn to sweetgreen's salads and Cava Mezze's Mediterranean options when searching for healthier, Chipotle-style restaurants. 

But which beloved build-your-own restaurant is better? Let's do a point-by-point breakdown.

Drink Quality: Cava

espresso, beer, tea, coffee
Susie Choi

In the words of my sweetgreen-loving friend, "sweetgreen drinks if you're a health nut; Cava if you're a human being." 

The drinks at sweetgreen often taste watered-down and sour, but Cava's drink selection never fails to satisfy. Every drink bursts with color and, more importantly, flavor. I'm guilty of opting for Cava over other restaurants solely because I'm craving their Blueberry Rosemary drink.

Food Quality: Cava

spinach, kale
Susie Choi

Sweetgreen will always hold a special place in my heart for changing my attitude toward salads. Before trying sweetgreen, salad was just an undesirable alternative to a wrap; now, salad is — dare I say it — a treat. 

One of the (few) downsides to sweetgreen's commitment to fresh ingredients is that you must be wary of growing too attached to certain ingredients; they may soon be out-of-season and, thus, out-of-salad. 

Enter Cava. No, the array of veggie toppings and dressings is not as expansive as sweetgreen's; the toppings selection is, however, more reliable, and the dressings more versatile. (Sriracha Greek Yogurt dressing? Yes, please!) 

pasta, salad
Susie Choi

Cava really steals the show for two reasons. First, it took a risk with its Chipotle-meets-Mediterranean idea, and has been killin' it since. Second, the falafel — so good that it is a reason in and of itself. 

Moreover, Cava has created a free online Nutritional Calculator so that you can mindfully create your rice bowl, pita wrap, or salad. The calculator gives you nutrition label-style information, so you don't have to obsess over calorie counts. 

Interior Aesthetic: sweetgreen

Hunting for the next spot to take a "candid" lunch date photo? Look no further. Though sweetgreen was founded in D.C., its West Coast aesthetic makes it the perfect relief from the capital's buzz

In case you missed your sweetgreen-obsessed friends' raves about the restaurant chain's local sourcing and sustainable dining practices, one step into a sweetgreen location will get the message across: names of local farms and maxims about mindful living cover chalkboards and adorn wall hangings.

Cava, however, carries a more sleek industrial vibe. The atmosphere is welcoming, but not quite as exciting or vibrant as that of sweetgreen. 

The Winner: Cava 

With its extensive ingredient options and Insta-worthy aesthetic, sweetgreen put up a good fight, but Cava emerges victorious. A round of applause to both contenders, though. At Chipotle-style, build-your-own restaurants, everyone wins.