Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Mar 24, 2011 05:06 PM

The Counter and Urban Plates?

Any info on these two places under development at the Del Mar mall? I noticed a full bar at the Counter, which is supposed to be a burger place. It's apparently a franchise.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There's been a Counter in Carlsbad for a couple of years. Didn't care for it the first time I was there shortly after it opened, maybe I just had too many options on my burger, but I had a tasty one a few weeks ago after a stop at the Wine Loft.

    1. Very excited for Urban Plates to open. Was a big fan of the executive chef at his last restaurant, got a sneak peak at the menu. San Diego has needed a place like this, fresh organic food from local growers. Counter Burger is a franchise, UP is not.

      6 Replies
      1. re: sydneyduck

        "San Diego has needed a place like this, fresh organic food from local growers." I guess places like the Linkery, Tender Greens and JSix (among quite a few others) that have been serving fresh, organic food from local growers don't count?

        3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

        JSix Restaurant
        616 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101

        Tender Greens
        2400 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

        1. re: DiningDiva

          You're right dining diva, those are great places that were not meant to be discredited. I guess I should have said we need more places like that. Either way, always excited for new restaurants.

          1. re: sydneyduck

            hit up Urban Plates a few weeks ago. Food looks fresh and tasty, but what I got was very underseasoned. Had the caramelized onion pizzette and sauteed button mushrooms. Both were "ok," but needed more depth of flavor. A hit of kosher salt woke both of them up, but so far, I think Tender Greens is much better. Maybe I'll have better luck w/ other dishes.

            Tender Greens
            2400 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

            Urban Plates
            12857 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130

            1. re: daantaat

              I had the same impression, daantaat. I went there a couple of weeks ago after a movie at Cinepolis. The vegetarian curry was disappointing - it was okay but on the thin and bland side. The steak salad was better but I think it could have packed more of a flavor punch.

              1. re: Katherine H

                ok, then it wasn't just what I picked or my imagination!

        2. re: sydneyduck

          Who is the executive chef and where was he previously?

        3. Finally tried The Counter last weekend. They have a big variety of fries and burgers including custom burgers. I chose their more standard burgers to try out, the 'Old School' and 'Counter Burger'. I also got cheddar fries and a vanilla milk shake.

          First off, this place has a big line at 6pm Saturday, so it will be busy. But I ordered to go from the bar so didn't have to wait in line - went shopping at Jimbo's before picking my order up. The Counter's original branch is apparently Carlsbad, and this is it's first branch.

          The Old School is a straightforward cheeseburger, and the counter has onion strings on top, sauteed mushrooms, and provolone instead of cheddar. Both burgers were perfect - my wife loved the grilled mushrooms and all ingredients were top notch. It compares well with Burger Lounge, another of our favorites. I'm sure there will be people who prefer each one but it's just been our first time and I won't call it just yet.

          The shake on the other hand is out of this world. Best ever. I know we had a thread on this a while back, but the bartender made a perfect shake. Smooth enough to drink right away, but with an ice cream texture.

          They have a big fries selection with onion rings, plain fries, cheddar fries, chili cheese fries, parmesean rosemary fries, and potato fries not to mention non-fry sides. The cheddar fries were great, first time I've had them like this.

          As far as burgers go, you can make your own and there are actually too many choices. I had no idea what I should choose from this list, so I decided to play it safe with a signature burger from their list. To give you an idea, they have 30 toppings (4 are included, with premium toppings being extra). It goes from Bermuda Red Onion to Sun-Dried Tomatoes. But they do have grilled pineapple and avocado which are a favorite when I want a Hawaiian burger.

          Prices are on the high end, but it was dinner worthy and we loved it. Doesn't hurt that it's next to Jimbo's locally - and the closest Burger Lounge for us is almost 20 minutes.

          They have a full bar where you can eat, and plenty of space.

          Can't wait til Urban Plates opens!

          1 Reply
          1. re: royaljester

            Royaljester, you wrote that "The Counter's original branch is apparently Carlsbad." Nope.

            The Counter is a chain whose first restaurant was the Ocean Park location in West Los Angeles. I believe Carlsbad may be the first location in the San Diego area.

          2. I tried The Counter last week, and it was pretty much what I expected, after hearing about it on KCRW's Good Food podcast a few weeks ago. Definitely not a destination eatery, but a decent place to go considering the surrounding competition. The Counter seems very similar to Burger Lounge, with the overpriced menu and the way they are able to make their "natural" beef taste so bland. At least they will cook their burgers with about the right amount of pink inside. Meh.

            1. Place link added to CH database for Urban Plates (including website with menus)

              Urban Plates
              12857 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130