A new Tucson restaurant is adding its own twist to the concept of eating on the go.
Cup It Up American Grill at 1101 N. Wilmot Road near East Speedway serves its multilayered meals in a 32-ounce cup.
The restaurant, which opened Jan. 13, follows the Subway/Chipotle assembly line model where your meal is built in stages, from protein to sauce.
There are four steps starting with the entree — three types of grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, slow pulled pork and short ribs — from $7.95 to $9.95. Step 2 is the "base" — choose from brown or white rice, barley or quinoa — and chilled or grilled kale, romaine or spinach.
"Most people go with the grilled greens," noted Julian Alarcon, the chef/co-owner who created Cup It Up's menu.
Step three is the toppings, including onions, peppers and other veggies, that can be grilled or chilled, as well. The final step is dubbed "superfoods" — things like avocado, pine nuts, chia seeds and other foods known for their high nutrient values. You can then choose to top it all off with sauces including the house favorite zesty signature sauce or the savory peppercorn.
Lest you think this is a healthful food restaurant, Alarcon is quick to note the popular mac and cheese ($3.95 and $6.95) that is quickly becoming a favorite for kids and their parents.
Cup It Up is the brainchild of Tucson golf buddies Christopher Smith and Jay Warren, who often asked that their food be put in a cup when they were on the course. The pair brought in Alarcon, a veteran chef who has worked with Fox Restaurant Concepts, golf courses and at area resorts, in summer 2014 to develop a menu and bring their idea to life.
In addition to its entrees, Cup It Up American Grill serves salads ($7) including its California avocado salad with roasted pistachio nuts, kale, avocados and grape tomatoes, served in a bowl. And if you're a little hesitant about getting your meal in a cup, you can ask for a box, Alarcon said, although the cup has so far proven to be pretty popular.
It is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; closed Sundays. Details: facebook.com/CupItUpAmericanGrill
Alarcon said the Wilmot Road location, next door to a Trader Joe's market, is the first of several they plan to open. They are looking at locations next to Whole Foods on Ina and Oracle roads and another at Tucson Premium Outlets. The partners also are in talks to become a vendor at Arizona Stadium on the University of Arizona campus this fall, he said.
“We really designed this whole deal to do at high-volume spaces" such as sports stadiums or malls, he said.