Keepin' It Fresh

Cafe Zupas March Menu Madness

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Every year millions of college basketball fans fill out their tournament brackets hoping that their team can pull off the upsets they need to become the undisputed champion. Families, friends, and even co-workers host their own bracket challenges with a prize for the person with the most accurate bracket of winners. There are dozens of different strategies you can employ to pick your winners, and the truth is….that’s half the fun. You don’t even need to know anything about teams, just join in the fun.

cafe zupas march madness bracket


We’ll admit that the Madness has spread here at Cafe Zupas, which is why we decided to embrace the competitive spirit in us all to create our own tournament, Cafe Zupas March Menu Madness, featuring the very best menu items Cafe Zupas has to offer. We’re proud of every item on our menu; however, we endured a difficult process of narrowing the bracket down to only 32 of our best and most favorite soups, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Here’s where you come in.

Starting this week, you can participate by picking your favorites in the first round of 32. The bracket is broken up into four divisions: sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts. For the first couple rounds they will only compete against an item within that category, but in the final rounds the choices will become even more difficult as you’re faced with choosing a sandwich or a dessert, a soup or a salad. Be sure to check back on the appropriate dates for future matchups:

Round 32: March 16 – March 22
Round 16: March 23 – March 26
Round 8: March 27 – March 29
Semis: March 30 – April 4
Finals: April 5


So what’s it going to be? The Honey Bacon Club or the Cuban Grilled Pork? Mixed Berry Creme Brulee or Caramel Rockside Brownie? Will you choose the Chicken Enchilada Chili or the Wisconsin Cauliflower? How about the matchup between the Nuts About Berries salad and the Strawberry Harvest with Chicken salad?

Join in the madness! Vote for your favorite menu items today, and then be sure to check back to push your favorite all the way to the finals!



15 Wildly Themed Restaurants From Around The World

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Ever wondered what it would be like to eat with the fishes? Or dine so far up in the sky that you can see out for miles? These restaurant owners have wondered the exact same thing, which is why they have created such wildly-themed places for you to enjoy an incredible meal.

Under The Sea

Red Sea Star – Eilat, Israel – Built in 1996, the Red Star was the first and only underwater restaurant at the time. It is built from steel frames that are weighted to the bottom of the ocean so as not to float up and away from the sea-life. There is a lower level for those that want to eat among the fishes, and a higher level bar above the ocean waters that looks over the gulf of Aqaba. The decor of this restaurant is underwater-themed, from the stools to the light fixtures, sea-life is prominent. But it is not just the decor of this restaurant that has given it the name “Red Sea Star.” Through plexiglass windows, guests are able to see fish swim past coral beds and seaweed right outside their window.

Red Sea Star Underwater Restaurant


Ithaa (pearl) – Rangali Finolhu, The Maldives – This restaurant is made out of a clear acrylic tube submerged below the Indian Ocean. Guests enjoy their meal amongst fish, sharks, and other exciting sea-life. To enter such an extravagant restaurant visitors must pay what might be considered a steep price for dinner; the cheapest lunch price is right around $120 per person. If one is willing to pay this amount for a meal immersed in marine life, they will walk down a spiral staircase to a pavilion which then leads them inside a building where they can walk out into the world’s largest aquarium tunnel.

Ithaa (pearl) Underwater Restuarant


Al Mahara – Burj Al Arab, Dubai – This restaurant offers its guests a fine dining experience to remember. Not only is the food fantastic, but the views are incredible.

Al Mahara Menu


The center of the restaurant is a large aquarium filled with items and species you would only find in the ocean. If you come to the Al Maran during lunch, the dress requirement is smart casual, and at night it is semi-formal; children under the age of 12 are only permitted within the restaurant at lunchtime.

Al Mahara Underwater Restaurant


BRRR, It’s Cold in Here

Chillout – Dubai, UAE – Discover a new way to enjoy hot food: in a cold environment. In Chillout’s icy themed restaurant, guests arrive in gloves, hats, and boots in order to weather the weather for some great eats like hot chocolate, steamy kabobs, and warm tea.

Chillout Frozen Restaurant


21 Fahrenheit Ice Lounge – Oshiwara, Mumbai – This was a very chilly restaurant a few years ago, it has since gone out of business. But 21 Fahrenheit Ice Lounge used to be one you would need to remember a long coat and gloves for. Before shutting down, this restaurant had a broad menu including Chinese, Thai, North Indian, and Japanese cuisine.

Fahrenheit frozen restaurant with frozen shot glasses


Tundra – Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA – Another restaurant that has since had to shut its doors for good. But when this restaurant was up and running, guests would walk into a world of ice sculptures, ice lamps, glowing colors, and even utensils made of ice.

Tundra frozen restaurant in florida

They served warm dishes to help their customers warm up from the inside out, with delicious things like prawns, beef tenderloin, and crab.

Tundra restaurant menu


The great thing about the location of this restaurant was the juxtaposition it brought to the warm summer breezes of Florida.

Treehouse Picnics

Loxly’s – Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA – This treehouse-themed restaurant sits 200 inside and another 200 outside. The outdoors have a two-level deck/patio area for diners to sit, a stone courtyard and fireplace, covered bar, and steps that lead to an elevator that takes diners to the treehouse-like top deck. There are even private dining rooms that resemble treehouses themselves.

Treehouse themed restaurant

The interior of this magnificent restaurant is decorated with tree trunks and wood structured bar, tables, and chairs, all of which are made to resemble the inside of a treehouse or a beautiful forest.

Loxly's treehouse themed restuarant


Yellow Treehouse – Auckland, New Zealand – This one-of-a-kind restaurant is literally built in a tree like a real treehouse would. The walls are slatted in a way that allows diners to look out into nature and feel as though they’ve been taken back to their childhood and are eating a picnic up in their treehouse. The entrance to such an amazing restaurant should be splendid too, right? Well this one sure is! The entrance is a 60 meter treetop walkway that takes you slowly vertical through a number of the trees in this forest. And at night, the whole path is beautifully lit.

Yellow Treehouse restaurant in the trees of new zealand


Hospital Food

Hospitalis – Old Town, Riga, Latvia – Surprisingly enough, the hospital theme seems to be a popular one for restaurants around the world. This one, found in Latvia, has waitresses dressed as attractive nurses, and waiters as good-looking doctors. Customers, or “patients” as they are referred to, at Hospitalis must check in to the hospital before enjoying their cuisine.
This restaurant, however, is not for the faint of heart; they serve dishes that look like actual body organs and have you eat them with hospital utensils. Drinks come in IVs, beakers, and syringes.

Hospital themed drinks at a restaurant in Latvia


The Heart Attack Grill – Arizona, USA – This restaurant got a lot of flack from the media for being extremely unhealthy, which perhaps is why they eventually shut down. While they were in business, the restaurant served dishes named after surgeries: burgers nick-named single, double, triple, and even quadruple bypass. Customers were called “patients” and given identity wristbands to wear, much like those found around the wrists of actual hospital patients.

burger nicknamed double, triple, and quadruple bypass


Hospital Themed Restaurant – Taipei, Taiwan – The tables here are made of hospital beds, with an IV nearby for serving alcoholic drinks. There are also shots served in syringes and other drinks that come in beakers. The decor of choice here are X-rays, and the whole place is colored in red and white.

syringes full of alcohol at a hospital themed restaurant



The Randomly Obscure

Airplane Restaurant – Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA – An old Boeing KC-97 is being used as a restaurant shell in Colorado Springs. Forty-two “passengers” are able to dine in the rich history of aviation as they check out the decorative memorabilia and photos this restaurant has for decoration. They are very accommodating and ready to take you and your party on a ride like no other. Have special dietary needs? No problem. Give them a call before your planned “departure” and let them know; they are more than willing to make the changes you need.

restaurant in an airplane


Dinner in the Sky – 40 Different Countries – At Dinner in the Sky, a table is literally hoisted into the sky by trained professionals. Guests then enjoy a wonderfully catered dinner with views of different parts of the world. Pictures describe a setting like this better than words ever could, so the following are our descriptions of Dinner in the Sky:

dinner in the sky

man putting his glass to the sky while eating on a platform hoisted into the sky

people watching a concert from the restaurant in the sky

people's feet on a small platform in the sky at the restaurant in the sky



The Modern Toilet – Taiwan – As odd as it sounds, people have found comic relief in sitting atop toilets while eating ice cream out of toilet-shaped bowls. This restuarant in Taiwan has taken “the throne” to a whole new level, using it as decoration throughout the restaurant, and even allowing customers to eat from them. Many of the seats made from these toilets have been dressed up with sparkles, paint, and more to make them the fanciest thrones you’ll ever eat from.

A spread of food in fake toilets at the toilet themed restaurant


Le Café des Chats – Paris, France – This little cafe serves coffees, teas, and bakery items, and while at first it may seem like your typical cafe, it is not. Within the seating area of this little restaurant dozens of cats roam free, allowing visitors to make friends with the felines as they enjoy their drinks.

tarts at the cat cafe in france

All of the cats at Le Café des Chats were saved from shelters, the streets, and animal protection services, and were specifically chosen for their social personalities toward other cats and humans. In essence, the Cat Café was a second chance for these cats, and a great way for people to connect with the animals.

cat on its hind legs at the cat cafe in france

While in the United States the idea of a cat cafe seems far fetched, it is simply because we are not used to having the opportunity to run them in the states. Because of strict health code laws, restaurants do not allow animals inside, but in other countries it is not as unusual to find a cafe where you can stroke a kitty’s soft fur while sipping on your espresso.

So if you’re ready to travel the world and experience some of the the most unique restaurant themes ever, you know where to go! Just make sure to tell us all about it….and invite us to the next adventure!



candy collage

Leftover Halloween Candy Recipes

Posted by | Holidays, Maria, Recipes, Seasonal | No Comments

Halloween is next week and that means lots and lots of candy! We always buy too much candy for our trick-or-treaters and our son always comes home with more than he can eat…or more than I will let him eat. I love using leftover Halloween candy to create delicious treats! The candy isn’t sweet enough so I have to make cookies, brownies, and popcorn:)

If you are looking for ways to use up your Halloween candy this year, make sure you try my favorite Leftover Halloween Candy Recipes! And if you don’t have any Halloween candy leftover, you can go buy new candy. I won’t tell:)

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In Season: Basil

Posted by | Maria, Recipes, Seasonal | No Comments

Basil is my all-time favorite herb and I am so excited it is in season. There is nothing like fresh basil!

There are several species of basil, but the most common is sweet basil. It is often used for caprese salad, pesto, tomato sauces, and to liven up Italian dishes.

To harvest fresh basil, clip the stem where it extends from a two-leaf joint. A new stem and leaf will grow from this point. Continuing to clip and use the basil while it is young and tender keeps the leaves and stems from maturing and forming buds and blooms. If the plant flowers, the basil will have a slightly bitter taste so try to keep basil plants trimmed!

If you harvest more than you can use, you can place the basil in a jar of water and store it on the counter for a few days. You can also freeze basil! To prevent the basil from wilting and turning brown, blanch the basil first.  Chill and pat the basil dry and put the leaves in a blender or food processor and puree, adding enough extra-virgin olive oil to make a smooth paste. Freeze the basil in ice cube trays for easy use! You can also make batches of pesto to freeze.

If you are looking for ways to use up your summer basil, here are a few of my favorite basil recipes!

non alcoholic drinks refreshing - stephanie brubaker

Sparkling Black Currant Punch

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I love to make special, non-alcoholic drinks for friends and family; not having a mini bar should not mean you are destined only to a glass of water all evening!  Start with pretty bottles (I purchased mine at IKEA; they are pictured above) and good ingredients and you’ll be on your way to a delightful evening.  Since black currant juice is a beautiful, deep color and boasts a tartness that cannot be beat, it’s a great base to this simple, but delicious drink.  Please note that each of these ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s.  Enjoy!

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15 No-Bake Desserts for Summer

Posted by | Maria, Recipes | No Comments

It is heating up outside and that means it is cooling down in our kitchen. I don’t like to turn the oven on during the hot summer months, but I still enjoy making delicious desserts. Today I am sharing 15 No-Bake Desserts that are perfect for summer. You don’t have to heat up the house to enjoy these tasty treats! Make one or make them all! Enjoy!

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