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California Chain Will Flood Maryland With Sustainably Sourced Cafeteria Food

Urban Plates plans to open in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Gaithersburg this year

Urban Plates’ first area locale opened in Tysons Corner in July.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

California chain Urban Plates is ramping up its East Coast expansion plans, planning to open three Maryland locations for its fast-casual cafeteria counters before the end of the year.

The first new shop is scheduled to open at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda on Monday, March 11. That will mark the third area location for Urban Plates since landing in Tysons Corner Galleria last summer. Another store arrived in Columbia, Maryland, soon after.

Eater has learned two other shops are coming to Gaithersburg and Chevy Chase in the fourth quarter of the year. The company declined to disclose addresses until the leases are fully executed.

Each Urban Plates location asks guests to choose from salads, sandwiches, soups or stews, large plates, and pastries and cakes. Once they’ve pointed to selections housed in colorful cast iron Le Creuset cookware, the kitchen puts each plate together and hands it to diners as they proceed down the line. The chain says all of its food is prepared on the premises of each location and sourced from local or sustainable ingredients.

Popular orders include a grass-fed steak sandwich with chimichurri aioli, baked salmon with honey-mustard sauce, and turkey meatloaf with barbecue sauce. The burgeoning company, which has grown to over a dozen locations across California over eight years, hopes to plant a dozen locations in the D.C. area over the long term.

Urban Plates is commissioning several local artists to spruce up its new 140-seat location in Bethesda by using faux plaster work and paintings. A designated area within the food court will enable guests to guzzle beer and wine alongside their meals. The 4,600-square-foot site (7101 Democracy Boulevard) will also sport an exterior entrance.

Last fall, the mall’s food court saw more action with the arrival of popular Baltimore ramen shop Ejji Ramen.