Plant-based food menus fill the bill at new Veggie Grill in UTC Mall in La Jolla

Kelley Carlson

Fast-casual restaurant chain Veggie Grill has planted roots in San Diego County. On Aug. 22, Westfield UTC became its first location in San Diego, and 20th overall. Business appears to be blooming, as the eatery was full of people on a recent Saturday afternoon.
“We’re very thoughtful about where we decide to open restaurants, focusing on communities containing mindful people who embrace and prefer delicious food that’s better for you,” said Greg Dollarhyde, chief energizing officer for Santa Monica-based Veggie Grill.

The Savory Kale Caesar salad consists of a mound of marinated kale, romaine hearts, tempeh bacon, avocado chunks, cucumber, croutons and veggie Parmesan, all tossed in Caesar dressing. It can be paired with the Green Pomegranate organic iced tea. Photos by Kelley Carlson

The UTC incarnation is similar in appearance to the others and operates the same way. Customers pore over the menu of 100 percent plant-based food, order and pay at the counter, take a number, then sit and relax until the food is brought out, which is only a matter of minutes.

It’s a laid-back environment, enhanced by adult alternative tunes from artists such as Norah Jones and Matt Nathanson. Everything on the menu is free of dairy, eggs, animal fat, trans fats, cholesterol, hormones and high-fructose corn syrup; the “meats” are blends of several types of proteins and special spices. Yet the food — described as “Yumbelievable” by the establishment — is still delicious, customers said.

“The food is unique,” General Manager Chris Radle said. “We make sure people got what they thought they ordered and are enjoying it. If not, we’ll get them something else.”
There’s quite a variety, from “burgers,” hot sandwiches and wraps to home-style plates, entrée salads and soups.

Dollarhyde recommends arriving a little early for dinner before a movie, grabbing a booth and a glass of wine, and ordering a side of the spicy Buffalo Wings with celery sticks and house-made ranch dressing.

For main dishes, try selections such as the Savory Kale Caesar salad, a mound of marinated kale, romaine hearts, tempeh bacon, avocado chunks, cucumber, croutons and veggie parmesan, all tossed in Caesar dressing; Baja “Fish” Tacos, featuring corn tortillas stuffed with crispy “fish,” green cabbage, Baja sauce and cilantro; the All-American Stack, a tall sandwich of veggie-steak in a spicy house-made marinade, lettuce, tomato and onion rings, with a side of Sweetheart Fries made from sweet potatoes that’s dusted with veggie parmesan; and the GF (Gluten-Free) Power Plate, with kale, a salad of sliced tomatoes, basil and avocado, and a three-layer stack of portobello mushroom, caramelized onions and tempeh that is drizzled with chipotle ranch.

Among the beverages to accompany these dishes are organic iced teas, all refreshing on a hot summer day: Green Pomegranate, Ginger Hibiscus and Unsweetened Black; regular and strawberry house-made lemonades; bottled drinks such as root beer and ginger ale; red and white wines; and two types of beer.

The All-American Stack, with a side of Sweetheart Fries made from sweet potatoes.

If there’s room for dessert, delectables include the Chocolate Pudding Parfait, layers of pudding and cookie crumbles that are garnished with chocolate syrup, walnuts and a dollop of VG crema, served in a chilled glass; and the moist Carrot Cake, frosted with a cream cheese that isn’t overpoweringly sweet and sprinkled with walnuts and carrot shavings.

The child-friendly Veggie Grill does offer a special Kid’s Meal, which consists of an entrée (Chickin’ Nuggets, Kids’ Burger, Mac-n-Cheese), a side (Sweet Potato Fries, Mandarin Oranges, Carrot Sticks, Steamin’ Kale), dessert (Chocolate Pudding, Cookies) and a drink for $5.95.

Party platters are available for large gatherings at the home, office or special events. The Thai Chickin’ and Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ wraps feature wheat tortillas packed with chickin’, lettuce and other assorted vegetables and dressings.

The Veggie Grill chain has intentions to next open in Carlsbad.

The patio at Veggie Grill.

Veggie Grill
Address: 4353 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite H28, UTC
The Vibe: Casual, Relaxed
Signature Dishes: Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ Sandwich, All Hail Kale salad, Buffalo Wings, Sweetheart Fries
Open Since: 2013 (UTC location)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Phone: (858) 458-0031
Reservations: No
Patio Seating: Yes
Takeout: Yes
Happy Hour: No

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.

This week: Veggie Grill’s Crostini Italiano

Related posts:

  1. Veggie Grill’s Italian Crostini
  2. Japanese fare served in high style at Katsuya by Starck in San Diego
  3. Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza satisfies with a menu loaded with variety
  4. Sharing’s in the spotlight at The Promiscuous Fork in La Jolla
  5. Rocky’s: A bar with burgers and brews to boast about

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Posted by Staff on Sep 27, 2013. Filed under Food, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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