Urban Plates in Suburban Environs

Shari Sheffield Around Town, Taste of Tysons

The west coast restaurant chain Urban Plates launched its first east coast eating destination in June.  Its DC area fast casual concept debuted in the Tysons Galleria on the first floor across from Maggiano’s.

The Tyson Galleria location is the latest addition to Urban Plates’ growing wholesome food emporium dynasty. The California based chain selected the Tysons area “…because of the high density of people who are educated about the importance of eating nutritionally balanced, made from scratch meals with responsibly sourced ingredients.” according to a representative.

With its 14th opening, the folks that conceived the Urban Plates’ fine fast-casual concept, also brought some nostalgia and whimsy back to dining in Tysons Corner.

Urban Plates prides itself on serving its “from scratch locally sourced” dining concept in an aesthetically pleasing familial space. The décor is so familial and homey that on our preview we could have sworn that HGTV’s JoAnna and Skip Gaines of Fixer Upper were the design team.

The long communal wood planked table, white china wear mural in the entry way, and the cheery yellow and cornflower blue stripped booth upholstery look like they could have come from one of JoAnna’s shabby chic house renovations.

The warm and comforting visual cues of a country house dining room translate through to the food. Once you enter the restaurant you are ushered through a perimeter to a stack of shiny aluminum baking trays. Beyond stands a server behind glass at a long counter featuring mounds of brightly colored food and dishes.

You soon realize these gleaming baking sheets are meant to serve as your meal trays as you walk along ordering delicacies. We were enchanted.  This scene brings back memories of Sunday afternoons visiting a Morrison’s or a Piccadilly’s with your grandparents. On our visit we stood in line behind a woman who ordered the biggest salad we had ever seen outside of a Cheesecake Factory.

The menu spans from salads, sandwiches, soups, and entrees, to desserts, beer and wine with the goal of providing a meal that is not only fresh but good for you too. Signs boast all the organic ingredients being served to remind you of what you are putting in your body. All the food is locally sourced, free range, and sustainable.  An online menu chart will steer vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diners to safe options as well.  For example, all the beef served in Urban Plates is not only grass fed its grass finished as well.  Paleo or keto dieters rejoice!

Vegetarians will be happy that salads are not their only option. In addition to soups they can feast on sides or order a “4 Up”plate.  This consist of a huge entrée plate of four home style sides. We recommend trying the rainbow carrots and golden beets medley and harissa seasoned corn on the cob. The Tysons’ menu also comes with local twists like Old Bay seasoned potatoes and blue crab and corn soup.

But could you expect anything more when one of the founders comes from Boston Market and Ruth Chris’ experience and the other owned an organic market?  That combination gives you a dining concept that aims to please and nourish the body with quality ingredients.

You might also pick up on the nods to the “just like Mom used to make” concept from the desserts like Hummingbird cake, chocolate pudding and chocolate chip cookies with chocolate chunks as big as quarters! This is Urban Plates clever effort at comfort food at its fast causal best.

Although it is experiencing some growing pains that you’d expect from a newly opened chain, staff is super friendly and helpful.  On our visit, we ordered two entrees and two desserts that would not fit on our aluminum baking sheet tray. The plates were so large and generous (and quite frankly who really complains about that), that it was too heavy for one person to carry. A service person came over to assist and brought back to the table the boxed up desserts for take away. We then understood why the cash register checkout gives you the option to include a tip. Trust us-use it.

Someone also delivered our glass of Babich Sauvignon Blanc crisp and properly chilled to the table.  Wine is served by the glass, bottle or 2 ½ glass carafe which is a nice option.

A carefully curated contemporary music playlist lilting in the background caught us taping our feet as we ate. Surely this is was where the (up until then absent) “urban” portion of Urban Plates that has evaded us could be found we wondered.

But that mystery would have to wait to be solved we concluded, as we tucked into the southern classic dessert, a slice Hummingbird cake and eyed to menu for some banana pudding.

Urban Plates is located at Tyson Galleria at 2001 International Drive, McLean, Virginia. Dinner for two with wine and desserts under $55.00.

Urban Plates

Tysons Galleria
1782M Galleria at Tysons II
Tysons, VA 22102
(571) 341-8886