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Where to Eat: Lunch at Gru's Lab Cafe at Universal Studios Hollywood

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Published: April 9, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem won't open officially until this Saturday at Universal Studios Hollywood, but the accompanying Gru's Lab Cafe has been serving lunch for several days now while the park soft-opens the ride and finishes construction on the Super Silly Fun Land playgrounds next door.

Gru's Lab Cafe

You'll find Gru's Lab at the corner of Miss Hattie's Home for Girls and Super Silly Fun Land, with an appropriately industrial stainless steel interior. But don't mistake this for some soulless theme park eatery. Look closely, and you'll find abundant detail in this food, tying it delightfully to the area's Despicable Me theme.

Inside Gru's Lab

Let's run through some of the options. Here is Gru's Backyard BBQ Rotisserie Chicken, a half a chicken, served with barbecue sauce, corn on the cob, and a fried mac n' cheese cube, covered in more cheese. ($12.99)

Gru's Backyard BBQ Rotisserie Chicken

The Minion Meatball Sandwich, served with tater tots and cole slaw. ($9.59)

Minion Meatball Sandwich

And here's El Macho's Nachos ($9.59), achieving the "why hasn't this happened before?" brilliance of serving chicken and cheese nachos... inside an edible tortilla shell. It's not quite the edible nacho hat from Despicable Me 2, but good enough for me.

El Macho's Nachos

I went today with what's quickly proving to be the most popular selection at Gru's Lab, Vector's Grilled Cheese with Pulled Pork ($12.99).

Vector's Grilled Cheese with Pulled Pork

It's served with cole slaw, extra BBQ sauce and homemade chips, but my server said that you can substitute the tater tots and recommended that, and I always go with a server's recommendations. :^)

Inside the sandwich
There's plenty of pulled pork flavor in here. The cheese really only accents the pork.

I love the Gru Labs logo branded on the top of the sandwich, along with the baby corn garnish, calling out to another Minion gag in Despicable Me 2. It's that attention to details that distinguishes Gru's Lab as the best example of themed dining to date at Universal Studios Hollywood. Take a look at the Freeze Ray Smoothie ($5.29), available here and at the Despicable Delights walk-up refreshment stand around the corner.

Freeze Ray Smoothie

It's soda poured over a banana mango soft-serve. Almost all of the desserts here involve banana in one form or another, calling back to the Minions' favorite food. But a couple of other details here stood out for me. First, notice that little spot of purple at the base of the straw? It's changing color in response to the cold soft-serve, and will go entirely purple as you suck the drink up through the straw, changing back to green when the straw returns to room temperature. That's a nice touch. Plus, the drink's served not in a "Universal Parks" or even in a "Universal Studios Hollywood" cup. It's in a "Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem" cup! This, people.

Frustrated with frozen waffles at Cletus' Chicken Shack at Universal Studios Florida? We've got freshly prepared waffles at Gru's Lab. Served with bananas, of course.

Waffles

But the cutest dessert at Gru's has to be the Minion Twinkie Cupcake ($6.99)

Minion Twinkie Cupcake

Now that is attention to detail!

Readers' Opinions

From James Trexen on April 10, 2014 at 9:02 AM
I'm surprised they didn't feature a recreation of Bake My Day from the second movie. The puns don't get any better than that people.
From Anon Mouse on April 10, 2014 at 9:32 AM
Darn. I will be forced to buy that Minion twinkie cupcake. My kid will cry if she doesn't get it.

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