Usually, it's the sophomore slump you have to watch out for. But the sophomore effort from the owners of Japaneiro's—a South American fusion sushi joint (Japanese food is common in Brazil, although Japanese-Brazilian cuisine is just starting to catch on here) in Sugar Land—was a hit. Guru Burgers & Crepes paired two unlikely cuisines under one roof, just as its sister sushi restaurant had successfully done for years, and pulled it off incredibly well.
Jupiter Pizza & Waffles
15135 City Walk
While the crepes portion of Guru Burger & Crepes is more of an afterthought in the face of its big, boisterous burgers (witness the King burger topped with bananas, peanut butter, honey, and bacon as an homage to Elvis, for example), the restaurant—and especially its carefully curated craft beer selection—is one of the best to open in Sugar Land in years. Fans of both Guru Burgers and Japaneiro's had high hopes when the owners announced a third concept: Jupiter Pizza & Waffles.
Like its sister restaurants, Jupiter is located in Sugar Land's busy Town Square development, its inviting patio nearly at the foot of the City Hall steps a few yards away. Unlike the other two, however, Jupiter has some warming up to do. Otherwise, it risks falling into a junior—not a sophomore—slump.
I don't want to judge Jupiter too harshly, give then it's only been open since July 30. That said, there are a few things I hope the restaurant fixes straight off the bat, because I'd love to have another reason to drive to Sugar Land Town Square—it's already saturated with amazing restaurants such as Aura Brasserie and Blu. For a part of town often mentioned in the same breath as "cookie cutter," Sugar Land boasts some terrifically inventive and unique restaurants. I love that.
However, I wasn't in love with the service at Jupiter. I noticed that none of the kids—I didn't spot a single staff member over the age of 25—seemed to want to be there. There's none of the welcoming vibe that's such a draw at Guru Burgers, and the young age of the staff also means that there's not much knowledge of the product.
The Belgian waffle on my "Homestead" waffle sandwich—a category which takes up roughly a third of the menu—was soggy and chewy. I asked our waitress if the waffles were made ahead of time or to order. She had no idea, and no interest in finding out for us. I asked her, too, about the pink sauce that accompanied our order of sweet potato fries. Was this the same pink sauce from Guru Burgers? Another blank stare.
Both the beer board above the bar and the pizza were sloppily constructed. The chicken on my friend's "Japaneiro's" pizza seemed to have been sitting in a garlicky chimichurri sauce for so long it had become tough and rubbery. There was no sauce on the pizza, and the bland crust tasted as though it had been passed under a Quizno's conveyor belt broiler. The beer board was difficult to read even for a beer nerd: Which Oktoberfest of a thousand Oktoberfest brews was on draft? Where is Sweet Action from, and what is it? Which Deschutes are we talking about? Our waitress offered little guidance when asked, again. This wouldn't be as much of a concern if Jupiter wasn't pitching itself as a craft beer-oriented spot, but it is.
At the end of the meal, my buddy and I were disappointed to admit to one another that the only thing we'd enjoyed were the sweet potato fries, crispy and nearly caramelized in a good way. On the other hand, the owners clearly know what they're doing with their other two restaurants, and I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before Jupiter is up to snuff, too. The location is prime, the interiors are crisp and clean, and the unusual concept—pizza on one side of the menu, waffles on the other—is just fun enough to work. Let Jupiter warm up a few more months, and I have hopes that it will emerge from this junior slump with panache.