Look at this place.
Soup, salad, and sandwich kitchen. How obnoxious is that?
I look up at the signage above the Cafe Zupas entryway and my eyes just about roll out the back of their sockets. Boy, if you ever want to feel Maple Grove around midday, just pull on up to this house-wifey diner. Seriously: I hate this place.
The red pepper-lobster soup is delicious. It helps energize on a good day, and uplifts on a bad day. They nail every sandwich. The pulled pork and the honey cilantro carnitas are hefty, simple and satisfying. I stop in for lunch at least once a week. Seriously: I love this place.
The Basics: There are two Zupas in Minnesota, and of course the other one is in Woodbury. The other states you can find Zupas in are Arizona … Idaho? … Nevada, and Utah? What the actual … I don’t know, check them out on the Internet.
Zupas’ interior is a lot like what you see on their website — most specifically, the “House Made” tab that will make you want to throw your computer screen out the window. That same stuff is drilled onto the walls, about local sourcing and “chef-crafted recipes” (in case you thought they were mapped out by the maintenance guy). This place is the worst.
The staff is so stinkin’ polite, too, and they employ that stupid cafeteria-style ordering format … but really efficiently. If you don’t want a salad, guess what? You don’t have to stand there behind that suburbanite mom while she points at salad ingredients, tapping her stupid finger against the glass, manicure that needed a refill two weeks ago. Nope, you just slide past her, order your soup, and move on. You get your food so quickly, I’m talking roughly one minute most times. This place is the best.
With every order, Zupas chucks in a complimentary chocolate-dipped strawberry. Of course they do. A chocolate-dipped strawberry is their damn logo. It’s heart-shaped. Creepy. Way to make my lunch break feel like some kind of midday rendezvous.
The flatware is red, shaped and ribbed for Instagram’s pleasure I’m sure. On it and in it, at least once a week without fail, I have the best restaurant soup I’ve had this year outside of the Draft Horse and a sandwich that hits the spot perfectly. We’re not talking pop-cuisine here: the red pepper and lobster soup tastes like – yep! – red pepper soup, and they don’t skimp on the seafood. If you like pork, you’ll enjoy the pork sandwiches. The bread is soft, the meat is juicy, and the veggies don’t make a mess.
Way to make my lunch break feel like an actual break. Do you realize I could be sitting in my work cafeteria right now, eating yesterday’s entrees re-purposed as “nibbler bar fare”?
The strawberries are fcking fantastic, I’ll have you know.
You can get a half-serving of soup and a full sandwich (not the half-sandwich bag jobs you get at most other joints) for $9. Most times, I’m in and out in 15 minutes. It’s infuriating: go someplace cheaper and your food won’t be nearly as good; go upscale and you run out of time; go fast food and you get fast food. No restaurant covers the bases like Zupas does. Thank God I’ve got one 10 minutes away.
For real, though, don’t even go to Zupas if you don’t want to curse under your breath at their gratuitous use of marketing buzzwords on your way to well-tasting food. Don’t even get in line if you don’t want to loiter behind some generically-dressed office yuk who — nope, that dork’s having a salad. Go past him. As I was saying, avoid this place altogether if you don’t want some very nice young lady or lad to ask if you’d be interested in a house-made brownie with a pile of chocolate chips on it that looks really terrific and you bet it bites like a dream and would probably solve all of your problems for life or at least the afternoon but the calories must be sky-high.
STILL GOT TIME? Pittsburgh Blue is also in the Shoppes, and all I did there was chow down a nine-patty cheeseburger. Maple Tavern is also in Maple Grove, and I built a Bloody Mary using almost entree on their brunch menu.