Urban Plates (Carmel Valley)

Another book club dinner post! Yay to books and bites! For July, the girls met at Urban Plates, a farm fresh restaurant located in the huge shopping/dining plaza off El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights. You move through cafeteria style, pick out your main plate, salad, sandwich, etc then select from an eye-catching medley of hot and cold sides. As a heads up, there are two lines, one for salads and one for other dishes so make sure you go in the correct one, especially if it's shorter! Payment is made at the end before you seat yourself.

Urban Plates - Grilled Steak Plate with Brussels and Butternut

The urban plates ($10) come with a choice of meat and two sides or four sides with no meat. I ordered the medium rare Grilled Steak Plate on a previous visit. The beef strips looked gorgeous but weren't as tender or flavorful as some other places. It was accompanied with simple rectangular bread and I was curious if I would have liked it better as a sandwich. I picked lightly sauted brussel sprouts and an interesting mushroom squash medley for my sides.

Urban Plates - Grilled Portabello Mushroom

The hand carved sandwiches ($10) come with a choice of one side plus housemade potato chips. My sandwich craving plus guilt over my recent junkfood binge led me to order the Grilled Portobello Sandwich. Vegetables are healthy right? I thought the mushroom slices were lacking in seasoning but felt that the roasted red bell peppers and goat cheese made it work overall.

Urban Plates - Lemon Quinoa Snap Pea Side Option

This was my side of spring pea quinoa (don't remember the exact name). It was more of a raw salad due to the uncooked snappeas and had a hint of citrus sprinkled through. I've been trying out quinoa lately so this was an unique variation, but not my preference.

Urban Plates - Raw Kale Salad

The urban greens ($10) don't come with sides but still have plenty of ingredients to entertain you. I think this was the Raw Kale Salad plus an order of Grilled Urban Steak (additional cost). I especially loved the colors in this salad, which included vivid purple cabbage, kale and sweet orange. I tasted some beef from here and it was tons better than my last experience, though friend had sprinkled additional salt since she likes salty.

Urban Plates - Grilled Wild Ono Nicoise Salad

My other friend had the Grilled Wild Ono Nicoise Salad. Each salad had its own set of ingredients and this one had a lettuce blend, green beans, egg, tomatoes, diced potatos, and a few other goodies. The ono is hiding under the pesto-looking sauce.

Urban Plates - Corn Chowder

Someone ordered the corn chowder ($4) and I couldn't wait to try this. I remember it being soothing and warm, plus we could taste the mild chiles besides the corn. The cream circle was the best part.

Urban Plates - Rhubarb Pie with Cream

When I saw the Rhubarb Pie, it was just meant to be! I don't think I've had this flavor since I was in college! I liked the sweeter fruity filling and the criss cross crust. The whip cream was especially light and delicious. The flower accent makes for a pretty picture!

I was hesitant after my first visit with the steak plate but this recent visit was such an improvement. I love the variety of items you can pick from. There's also family meals with choices like large portions of bbq turkey meatloaf or braises & stews that comes with two sides, salad, and bread for $40 . With friends though, it's more interesting to order exactly what you want! I haven't been to Tender Greens in a while (also found through book club) so I think I'll be going there to compare. Hubby won't turn down the chance to get his beloved cowboy cookies!

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Urban Plates
12857 El Camino Real
Del Mar CA 92130
(858) 509-1800

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Mary's picture
Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Fri, 08/29/2014 - 8:27am

I went here forever ago and keep meaning to go back and try it. I wonder if I can squeeze it in on a lunch break sometime… hmmm! I like the variety of menu options - it reminds me a bit of Lemonade in LA/OC (which is coming to UTC soon!). I love that they put a flower on your pie - so cute! And the corn chowder looks really yummy. Must visit soon!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 09/03/2014 - 1:07pm

Neat! I'll have to check out Lemonade when it gets here. That'll be more competition from Tender Greens as well. I like having healthier choices for meals when eating out so it's nice to have options. Luckily the line at Urban Plates moves fast so at least you're not waiting long for food!

J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Fri, 08/29/2014 - 2:51pm

I like these types of restaurants, Urban Plates definitely reminds me of Tender Greens and Lemonade in LA. Its usually not the best food ever but they have tons of choices and you kind of run the spectrum from super healthy to not-so-healthy. Good to go in groups for sure, since everyone will find something they like. And whenever I kind of get too virtuous with my salad choices I always get a dessert to cap it off ;)

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 09/03/2014 - 1:11pm

The salads look good at these places but I'm always afraid I'll still be hungry if I order one... dessert or soup helps with this problem! Mary mentioned that there will be a Lemonade in UTC soon! I don't wanna miss the food party~

Jenny (vintagesugarcube)'s picture
Submitted by Jenny (vintages... (not verified) on Sat, 09/20/2014 - 9:29am

I didn't know about that place and thanks to YOU now I do... Looks fabulous!! So great to see you last weekend. Hope to see you again before the year is out.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 09/22/2014 - 3:27pm

I'm finding out about new places all the time! Sometimes we eat out so much that 'healthier' food is a must! If I don't see ya, at least I'll be checking out your blog! :)

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