Urban Beets & Juicery is an extremely cozy vegan restaurant located on 1401 N. MLK Drive and is known for its eccentric smoothies and clean cuisine. Having heard rave reviews about this spot from friends and fellow foodies, I thought it would be an appropriate spot to try out for the next food meet up in Milwaukee!
At first glance, this spot has beautiful aesthetics, with white walls, high ceilings, HGTV-like light fixtures, and pillows placed within booths that were enveloped in wood. The tables also were a rustic wood, making our food photos pop and glimmer with every color imaginable. I think the environment of Urban Beets is unlike most places I have visited in Milwaukee, as it feels like home with a touch of modern and a tad bit upscale. Although the outside of this spot would not stick out since it is part of a larger mixed-use development building, once you step into this place you will feel right at home, relaxed and ready to eat.
As more people began filing in for this meet up, I was a bit nervous about seating since there were no community style tables or large enough tables that would give everyone a chance to sit with each other, but it still worked out. Each group was able to bond with each other and some people opted to switch being at both tables. (see above) There were two guests from Boston and other people who I had connected with via Instagram, someone from Racine, and a host of other people who I recently met at a vegan pop up in town! Justin, Dan (@danosdonuts) and and friend Jabari were the three people who have been to prior meet-ups, but there were all new faces at this meet up, something I particularly enjoyed. I even met some visitors from St. Louis who are interested in vegan eats and Elizabeth, another Milwaukee foodie and adventurist! (@howsheseesmke)
There were at least 13 people at this meet up, the highest amount we have had, and this makes me excited about future meet-ups. As for the food at Urban Beets, there were pretty positive comments. Some chose to get a pulled carrot with sweet BBQ sauce, buffalo chickpea pizza topped with garlic sauce and a falafel buddha bowl, to name a few items. The moon rock sub was bought by three people, and everyone loved how much flavor there was to this option that included bean and walnut balls, marinara and cashew parmesan. I should mention that there were meat eaters at this meet-up and even they enjoyed their vegan meals, something I had hoped for and was glad to hear as an almost vegan.
Although this spot generated positive thoughts and feelings, I have a few qualms. First, I think the prices here for certain items are a bit high. Smoothies cost $7.00 and items including the pizza I ate cost $13.00 for a ten inch option. In the pizza's case, I would be fine with this price if there were more toppings on the buffalo chickpea like there was on the veggie pesto pizza that included pesto as the base, artichokes and other hearty vegetables. Yes, I understand that a place like Urban Beets might have to charge more for certain whole foods and unprocessed items like the in-house chai that they include in their smoothie. (I loved this creamy, fall-inspired smoothie), but Beerline Cafe serves up very similar food at lower prices.
I would be curious to know more about their pricing process. I spent just over $20 and did not leave super full but for $10-$13 I can go to Comet Cafe and get a meal that would fill me up and then some. However, a place that serves up healthy ingredients like wheatgrass and super clean vegan food might not be the cheapest. I think Urban Beets' Moon Rock Sub or their falafel buddha bowl might be a better option in terms of price point, both falling under $10. While I certainly do not mind spending money on food, I expect a few more ingredients on a pizza that cost $13 instead of just spinach, chickpeas and two sauces.
That said, the service here was fantastic, as cashiers were very helpful with selecting items on the menu and offered to clean up our area numerous times. While it was slow and this is something you'd expect from a restaurant, everyone there was extremely happy to clear our tables and make space for our party. I am always intrigued to just show up at restaurants without letting them know a meet-up is happening to see how prepared restaurants are when it comes to larger parties and more requests.
Despite these minor rumblings, I do think the taste of everything at Urban Beets was spot on and packed with flavor. Whenever i choose a place for a meet-up, I never like to exclude people who want to eat meat or dairy, but I had heard and seen (especially @catneygram instagram stories) so much of this place that I had to make it a point to go here. I found out that the space we were sitting in was a part of an expansion, which makes me wonder if the food is priced higher to cover some of these expansion and operating costs of making a bigger space, having more lighting, etc. I couldn't imagine this cafe being any smaller, but I am glad this meet-up served us well. Overall, this spot gave us a chance to experience an untapped part of Milwaukee and appreciate vegan food and drinks on this Saturday afternoon!