The Town Center Restaurant Race Off

Town Center serves as the most popular spot in the Sugar Land area for new restaurants and bars. With its high rent prices, it’s not uncommon for new restaurants to struggle to keep afloat, with many closing their doors before they even gain a reputation. However, within walking distance of each other are Japaneiros, Jupiter Pizza and Waffle Co., and Guru’s Burgers and Bowls, three long-standing restaurants in the area, all owned by only two people: Robert White and Victor Litwinenko. And while these two have managed to make their restaurants incredibly successful, with glowing reviews from Sugar Land residents and critics, little has been written about the vegetarian options of these three menus. Over the time of a few weeks, we visited these restaurants and ordered what they had advertised as vegetarian on their menu to deliberate on the quality of these three restaurants.


Guru’s Burgers and Bowls was the first restaurant we visited, and unfortunately, may have been a bad start. Guru’s does have a vegetarian section of their menu, as well as a knowledgeable staff who are more than willing to share information about vegetarian options and meat substitutes. Since the name suggests the duality of what the restaurant offers, we decided to order one burger and one bowl each. 


The Captain Planet was one of the two veggie burgers they offered, with this one being a black bean patty on a pretzel bun with customizable vegetables. No sauce aside from the ketchup on the table was provided with this burger. While the wait time for the food itself was minimal, when we received the burger, we noticed an immediate flaw in how it had been cooked. The crust on the patty itself was burnt, which had dried out the inside of the patty as well. The lack of sauce options additionally made the burger unsalvageable. And while we did attempt to finish the burger to the best of our ability to prevent food waste, about ¾ of the way through we decided it was unbearable to eat.


Thinking maybe the bowls could help improve the restaurant’s reputation, we moved on to the tofu bowl Victoria had ordered. While tofu can be a difficult food to cook correctly, with the correct seasoning, sauce, and cooking method, it can create a delicious meat substitute. Unfortunately, the bowl we received included uncooked and unseasoned tofu, making the dish difficult to get through. We had to leave about half of the bowl behind despite our best efforts to finish it.


The food and experience at Guru’s wasn’t entirely bad though. The appetizer we had ordered, mozzarella sticks wrapped in fried rice paper, was a pleasant spin on a tried-and-true appetizer choice. The staff at Guru’s were also complimentary, respectful, and accommodating of our questions about the vegetarian food on the menu. The environment itself was clean and had both booths and tables in the dining area. While non-vegetarians may enjoy some of the meat options on the menu, vegetarians like us should likely find somewhere else to eat. 


The next White and Litwinenko owned restaurant we tried was Jupiter Pizza and Waffle Co. This is a combination breakfast and Pizza place, complete with a bar.  Since we went earlier in the morning, we decided to try their vegetarian breakfast options. Jupiter also had a vegetarian section to their menu, as well as a staff that was accommodating and responsive to our questions. We decided on ordering the vegetarian omelette with a waffle as a side, and the french toast. 


The food came to us in a timely manner, and had nothing disagreeable about it. While it tasted good, it was also a very commonplace breakfast option. If you’ve had breakfast at any substantial diner, you’ve had breakfast here too. By no means does this make the dining experience bad, if you’re interested in eating a relaxed breakfast or brunch in the Town Center area, this place will suit your wants perfectly. 


The environment of this restaurant really adds to the dining experience. The tall, open windows shine light from the outdoor patio era into the indoor dining area, which, combined with the light wooden furniture, creates a light and airy atmosphere, ideal for hanging out with friends or family in the early morning. The only downside of the dining area, which could’ve been a one time circumstance, was the slightly sticky table. Overall, while the food wasn’t particularly creative or original, the quality and atmosphere creates a great experience for dining out with friends or family in the morning. 

The third restaurant owned by this duo is actually their longest running restaurant of the three, Japanerio’s. This Latin American-Japanese fusion restaurant uses flavors from traditional latino food in Japanese foods, namely sushi. This restaurant also offered the most vegetarian options, while also being the most creative. We ordered the banana chips with guacamole as an appetizer, and moved on to the Yucca Roll and Sunkist Roll, found under the vegetarian menu. The taste of the food itself was unique, complex, and delicious. There is a clear and well-done blending of the two influences they advertise through these dishes. The atmosphere also adds to the dining experience. The dining area includes well spaced out tables, booths, and a bar area. The staff are knowledgeable about their menu and happy to assist with any questions. The dark lightning adds to the environment as well, but could be a downside for some preferences. The only flaw we found were the grimy bathrooms and sticky tables, which could’ve been a one time issue. Overall, this was our favorite restaurant of the three.

Robert White and Victor Litwinenko have carved out a niche for themselves in the Sugar Land restaurant scene. And while all of these restaurants offer a vegetarian section on their menu, two of them are comparably better than the other. Jupiter’s Pizza and Waffle Co. and Japaneiros offer the superior vegetarian options of these three. While Guru’s Burgers and Bowls could be a good option for non-vegetarians, our experience as two vegetarians was poorer than the other two restaurants. Jupiter’s Pizza and Waffle Co also served as a great breakfast option, but not as a unique experience. Japaneiros however, served the best vegetarian options that can’t be found anywhere else. The great environment plus the high quality and unique food make this a great dining experience for anytime of day, as well as a great place to bring friends and family for a fun night out.