Saturn Cafe 2175 Allston Way/Oxford St., downtown. L-D daily, SatSunBr; $$. Located across the street from the U.C. campus, this outer space-themed spot with a bright-pink interior is a good place for a simple and quick lunch or dinner.
There are plenty of comfy booths, and tables have whimsical, conversation-inducing, food-themed still-life collages under their glass tops.
The menu features vegetarian-style traditional American diner fare, with vegan and gluten-free options. The no-brainer meal to order is a burger--they come on a healthy whole-wheat bun--with a side of either the crispy regular fries or the really good sweet potato fries or a cup of thick tomato soup.
And, of course, a milkshake—perhaps the seasonal special or the vegan version peanut butter-chocolate topped with coconut whipped cream. On the other hand, I really enjoyed my traditional root beer float with vanilla ice cream. More items that sound worth a try are a chicken-avocado sandwich, taquitos stuffed with black beans and tacos filled with potato, the porter float with vanilla bean soy ice cream, and vegan gluten-free cupcakes. Service is quick and attentive, portions are big, and breakfast is served all day. Don’t expect romantic—this place is ear-piercingly noisy and perfect for families.
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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers