How could one not want to go to Utopia?!
I mean, that’s a no-brainer. But what to do once you get there and are there restaurants in Utopia; that’s actually harder than you think. Because Utopia, population 227, is actually a census-designated place (CDP) by the Federal Register, meaning that there’s only enough of a concentration of people — as of mid-March, even if the whole town showed up for a parade, this wouldn’t have broken COVID-19 regulations — to be a data point for the Census. A CDP doesn’t have legal boundaries, and for a town the size of a decent wedding ceremony, why would there need to be any?
So, what is there to do in Utopia, Texas? Why, go to The Lost Maples Cafe of course!
For more info, don’t use their dot.com
Their website will lead you only to an error message, so you can see their menu here, and I’ve also taken some photos of the interior and surroundings.
A friendly review
I’ve decided to start using my own rating system, standard stuff like 1-10, 10 being best (no half-points, please; 10 is enough of a scale). And also a rating of my own, STI, for Small Town Index, meaning how typical of a small town is this.
- NAME | Lost Maples Cafe
- ADDRESS | 384 Main St, Utopia, TX 78884
- PHONE | (830) 966-2221
- DECOR | 7/10
- SERVICE | 9/10
- FOOD | 6/10
- NOISE QUALITY | 9/10
- FAMILY FRIENDLY | 9/10
- GOOD FOR GROUPS? Yes
- STI | 8/10
The FOOD gets the harshest review, so I’ll start there, because it all gets better.
I had the fried fish plate, though I’ve been trying to cut down on fried food (am closer to 60 than I am 50). They had tilapia; previous night was catfish, which I prefer. The batter on the fish was good, and the fish was perhaps slightly undercooked. I mean, only slightly. The onion rings were to die for. Amazing batter, and you could bite into one without pulling out the whole ring. One of the best parts of the meal was having a roll of paper towels at the table. I get messy with greasy fingers. Big points on their sweet tea. Tasty and also served in a huge plastic cup.
THE STAFF WERE EXCELLENT
Service was great. The two servers appeared to be high school seniors, and each worked very hard and quickly to take our orders and did so with a smile. As I mentioned in a previous post, I got the hard sell on cherry pie and it almost worked. I kind of wish it had, yet my BMI is glad it didn’t.
In terms of the interior (Noise, Decor, and how good it is for Families and Groups), all of those get high marks. This is definitely the kind of place to come for early breakfast before getting on the road, weekend brunch — though I don’t think that word is used much around Utopia — lunch with co-workers, and an early dinner anytime. (I suspect that not many people go in for European dinner hours anyway; they close typically at 9pm.)
The STI was 8/10. Lost Maples Cafe has a real small town feel, yet it would gain another point or two if it wasn’t such a rose among thorns. Nothing else was open. Granted, it was close to 6pm on a Saturday evening, and offices were understandably closed — there was a Justice of the Peace building across the street — and shops were also closed. But other restaurants appeared either vacated or closed. Perhaps midday on a Monday would be different, but on this particularly Saturday night, Lost Maples Cafe was a candle in the dark. I would give it higher marks if the town around it had the same charm as it did.
But whether your destination is Lost Maples or Mac & Ernie’s Roadside Eatery in nearby Tarpley, either one is a good place at the end of a relaxing drive.