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Saturn Cafe

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 45 reviews )
Contact 831-429-8505

145 Laurel St (at Pacific Ave), Santa Cruz, California, USA, 95060

Longtime operating vegetarian diner with an American food menu featuring veggie burgers, sandwiches, breakfast and brunch food, Cal-Mex food, fries, shakes, and breakfast all day. Offers weekend late risers brunch which includes mimosas and vegan donut holes. Punky, funky music and decor. Open Mon-Sun 10:00am-12:00am, Sat-Sun 12:00am-3:00am.

Category: Vegan-friendly, American, Fast food, Take-out

Reviews (45)

First Review by TexasVegan

Cool diner - Edit

We had vegan breakfas burritos, a side of fruit and a mint ice cream sundae (yeah I had ice cream for breakfast so what). The food was great, the service was friendly, the décor is really cool.

The menu is all veggie with maybe 14 vegan and some extra veganizable things brining it up to 13 vegan. Noteworthy dishes include vegan pancakes, vegan ice cream and vegan milkshakes (!!)

Pros: Vegan ice cream sundae!!, Appropriate (not overwhelming) portions

Cons: Would've liked to see more vegan things on the men

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Good food, fun atmosphere - Edit

This is a not one of the fun restaurants in town. Just good people who work there.

The food is a bit greasy and not the best quality, but fun to eat.
On the other hand. The vegan ice cream is the best on the market from any supplier, anywhere. Plus they make their own coconut whipped topping.

Pros: Fun Atmosphere, Good Parking, Vegan Ice Cream

Cons: A little greasy, A little pricey

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Delicious food and a nice menu - Edit

I had the BBQ pulled "chicken" burger and was scared about the chicken: it seemed so... real. The burger was great, so were the french fries and oh, I also had the vegan sundae. It was overall way too much food for one person, but I still ate it all and it was delicious. Good service, too! I'll be going back there a few times for sure.

Pros: Good selection of vegan meals/desserts and drinks, Good service

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Amazing Dinner.. Came back for Breakfast!! - Edit

EXCELLENT diner-style food!! Had their vegan BBQ Ranch Chikn Burger with fries and chocolate milkshake with mint & chips... So delicious!! My non-veg friends loved their shakes and food as well (they had the grilled cheese and Thai wrap).

My husband and I loved it so much that we came back for Breakfast the next morn. Had their vegan breakfast burrito with soyrizo and the combo with pancakes, tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, & veg sausage. It totally hit the spot for a good standard American breakfast.

* Service is super friendly
* They allow dogs on the patio

Pros: the

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Super comfy vegan food - Edit

This has been a long time favourite for a lot of folk I know.
Great vibe to the place. Good range of veggie items and decent enough for vegans. Certainly worth your time for some comfort food

Pros: Good vegan options , Diner style food, Great decor

Cons: Needs morvegan items

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Huge Disappointment - Edit

I was excited to try this veggie spot after reading several great reviews on Happy Cow. My friend and I are on a road trip from LA to San Francisco, so Santa Cruz is a great spot to stop for lunch between Carmel and San Fran on the final leg of the trip.

We should have know that things were sub par when we went to wash our hands and the bathrooms were disgusting. We almost left, but our server finally came over.

Menu options were uninspired and generic. My salad looked great, but was really just ok. The server was completely clueless about the menu and when I asked his suggestions, it was as though he hadn't eaten anything there.

My friend got the vegan breakfast burrito and while the menu listed several items inside the burrito, when it arrived it was just filled with tofu scramble. No veggies or anything. It was just very boring and bland.

The whole place was filthy and now we just feel gross. This experience was a big let down.

Cons: filthy, bad service, uninspired menu.

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Delightful - Edit

Saturn Cafe is a delightful restaurant. It is decorated in a retro sci-fi style. The food is great as well. I had the vegan BBQ ranch chicken burger plus a cupcake. The cafe is well worth a visit.

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Loved it in 1979, still love it now! - Edit

I admit I'm biased. Saturn Cafe opened near my houseful of UCSC students in 1979 - and quickly became our favorite. Visiting now 36 years later, I still love Saturn Cafe for its vegan-friendliness and everything else. Today I had the vegan breakfast burrito with tofu spread and other yummy stuff, and hibiscus cooler from the original recipe. Plus there was a special - free vegan muffin and coffee with breakfast order. All this for $12. Everything about the place is fun - each table has a unique retro tchotchke collage under glass, and the restrooms are marked "robots" and "aliens" (back in the day, it was "us" and "them"). My waiter was super friendly and helpful - and also vegan himself (of course).
Updated from previous review on Friday April 24, 2015

Updated from previous review on Friday April 24, 2015

Pros: Delicious vegan food, Great value, Fun environment and nice staff

Cons: Wish it opened earlier for breakfast.

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surprisingly great - Edit

We arrived there thanks to HappyCow after visiting the wharf in Santa Cruz with 3 kids and the place is really awesome. Great vegan options inc. many vegan hamburgers, salads, soup, sandwiches, kids menu, and for desert: vegan cupcake with cream that my kids loved obviously!
Also great service and cool atmosphere

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Disappointing - Edit

I've tried this place a couple of times when I pass thru Santa Cruz for work.
Tonight I ordered A Side Salad and the Vegan BBQ Ranch Chicken Burger.

The salad was very disappointing, It's summer and everywhere you go there are fresh vegetables. However this salad consisted of, lettuce, four cucumbers, and some cabbage.

The vegan chicken was overcooked, along with the fries.

The service was friendly it's just they need better food preparation management.

Pros: Good Service

Cons: Over cooked

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A very welcome surprise! - Edit

I stumbled in here on my way to a hike. They decor is funky with a space theme (hence Saturn Cafe!) I wanted something in the middle of healthy and delicious, so I ordered the BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad. I honestly wasn't expecting anything spectacular but I was totally mistaken! This salad was incredible! The chicken was some kind of shredded fake and the sauce was delicious. It also had crispy onions and lots of veggies, so it was exactly what I was looking for! I was just passing through unfortunately, otherwise this would be a regular!

Pros: Delicious food, Fun decor, Friendly staff

Cons: None

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Tasty Americana - Edit

Real yummy food and friendly staff. Groovy decor. A bit pricey for me (I can eat a lot), but their prices are fairly comparable to most joints tat serve this style of food. The vegan BBQ ranch chicken burger was bomb!

Pros: tasty, friendly, groovy

Cons: 1 meal didn't satisfy me (6' dude)

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Delicious, Huge Selection, Huge Portions - Edit

Something for everyone here, many vegan choices,some healthy, some deep fried unhealthy like onion rings, fries, taquitos, so choose carefully for health. They use all brand of faux meats including Gardein, Beyond Meat, Quorn (not vegan).

Pros: Big Selection, Big Portions

Cons: A lot of fried foods, Slow service

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Loved it - Edit

We rolled into town after dark and we were really hungry. Fortunately we had someone recommend Saturn Café. We loved it! Vegan taquitos?!! Seriously?!! They were incredible. The prices were great, the service was good, and everyone with us (5 of us in all) loved their dinner.

Pros: Extensive menu, Well priced, Great food

Cons: All good; nothing bad

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very good - Edit

I really enjoyed my time at Saturn cafe. I was there with 3 non vegetarian friends, and they also enjoyed themselves.
The food was good, the beer was great and the desert from another planet. I really liked all the vegan options.
I would recommend the chicken burgers, they were better than the normal ones.
Updated from previous review on Monday December 16, 2013

Pros: good atmosphere, good food, vegan options

Cons: staff very slow

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Like it! - Edit

One of my favourite place in California. Saturn café has a funny atmosphere, staff is really friendly. And food is really good and offers big portions. I really enjoyed my burger, while speaking some French with one of the waitresses.

Pros: excellent food with vegan options, friendly staff, nice decor

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cool veg diner - Edit

My friend and I were so amazed to find this cool retro vegetarian diner right on the main street of Santa Cruz, and they have parking . The wait staff are super friendly and prices are good.
My friend and I shared the burger and onion strings plus a side of garlic fries. The burger was good. I didn't like the onions-too greasy. I thought the potatoes were well done-but they age very garlicky with chopped fresh garlic. The Sundays were good, but I would leave off the whip cream.

Pros: location amd parking, friendly staff, great decor

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Tripster, hipster, fun all Veg restaurant! - Edit

Kudos to any Veg place and this one comes with some serious 'ambiance'. The booth tables are filled with nostalgic 'thingies'. I happed to sit at the one all in favor of the 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'. If you need to utilize the restroom, Men you are Robots and Women are Aliens.

I went with a veg burger and to this day have not found a place that makes one over the top fantastic, hence this one at least was not mush and the varieties are impressive.

I can't wait to go back and try out some other menu items.

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OK fast food - Edit

Good option in Santa Cruz, but enough vegan choices for the size of the menu. The portions are large, and the food came fast enough at the table. Very studenty feel.

Pros: Fast food

Cons: not enough vegan options

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Check it out... - Edit

I hadn't been here in a few years and just returned recently. For a change of pace, I ordered a salad instead of a sandwich, and it was amazing(and huge). The staff was really helpful and friendly. Glad I went. I love the vibe there. It's a great spot for vegan junk as well, if you are in downtown Santa Cruz it is a great option..

Pros: Tasty, Friendly Staff, Large portions

Cons: Can be pricey

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Grungy Burger Joint - Edit

I had read about this place on happycow, and here's my Saturn Cafe review.

Was here on a past trip Santa Cruz. I had wanted to try the different pure veg places listed on HappyCow, and this was one of them.

It's a casual diner that offers funky decor, kinda grungy punky, various veggie burgers and fries, etc... My food was all right. I can see why young kids would like the atmosphere.

Pros: convenient location, spacious, friendly staff

Cons: grungy

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Called "Saturn" cuz you're not in Kansas anymore! - Edit

I love Saturn Cafe and always visit when I am in SC (& the new one in Berkeley is great too). Lots of Vegan and Veg/Egg-free options. However, they do serve eggs here. Do be VERY clear with the waiters because our waiter was very spaced-out and we ordered a vegan breakfast burrito and got one with eggs & cheese in it, even after requesting vegan-everything and vegan ranch, etc, he still made this mistake. My partner had never eaten eggs in his life and took a couple of bites before realizing that it wasn't tofu scramble. So just be very clear! Otherwise, the food is decadent diner food, not healthy, but hard to find this kind of tasty comfort food in veggie places. Many items contain eggs or egg-whites, so be sure to ask questions if this is as important to you as it is to us. For example, the onion rings, faux chicken, and regular ranch have eggs in them & this wasn't the first time a waiter here spaced-out about these details.

If you ask questions and are very clear, you will be fine and probably obsess about this place the rest of your year and plan what you'll eat on your next visit! The ambiance here is kitschy/quirky/oddball diner. We sat at the "Pez-dispenser" / Star Trek table, to give you an idea of what to expect. This joint is full of college students round the clock. It's not sophisticated dining, just fun & eccentric. We are in our early thirties, so the place suits us fine. It's a diner with a sense of humor open 24/7.

Also, if you love vegetarian food & are visiting SC, I also recommend Malabar (best dinner!) & Dharma's (amazing breakfast/brunch) as must-visit dining! For a quick bite and supporting a woman-owned business with super-fast & fresh food, I recommend Alfresco as well. YUM!

Pros: Vegan Brunch, Quirky Decor, Open 24/7

Cons: Careless Waitstaff, Eggs Galore, Menu unclear about Egg Ingredients

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LOVE - Edit

I love Saturn Cafe with a deep and fiery passion. I still haven't tried everything on the menu yet (I want that french toast still!!!) but things that I have ordered have been amazing. They have great burgers (portabello mushroom, normal vegi burger), french fries, sodas (sounds weird, but they're cane sugar and special), tequitos, salad, ect.
My meat eating friends love it too.
For a poor college student it can seem a little pricey, but in reality its worth it because they give you such a good portion of food. Service has always been great.
Atmosphere is funky, I like it even though I'm very not funky and I still fit in.

Pros: Excellent food & portions, Great service, Great menu selection

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We Love This Place - Edit

Saturn Cafe is a venerable vegetarian institution, but it easily can get lost in the shuffle. Trendy restaurants like Source and Plant Cafe have stolen some of its thunder, and Saturn Cafe's chainification has diluted its uniqueness. But Saturn Cafe always delivers a hearty, tasty, cost-effective meal, and it retains a special place in our heart accordingly.

I kept Saturn Cafe as a secret post-kayaking destination for my daughter Dina. Even when the kayaking trip went bust, I knew Saturn Cafe would be a hit. We took Dina there a year ago and she loved it--the decor, the coloring menu and the food. What fun!

This trip she had banana walnut pancakes and I had the very tasty vegan breakfast burrito. Both were completely devoured before we left our seats, feeling quite full. The bill was a paltry $15.

I wish Saturn Cafe would come to the South Bay. It would compete directly with Hobee's in both food and price, but I would pick Saturn Cafe over Hobee's (a long-time favorite of mine) both for being completely vegetarian and for its more flavorful options.

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  Contributions +79

Totally Out of this World - Edit

It's been a while since I've been but, I've been awe-struck since my first visit back in 2001. It's the first greasy spoon/diner I visited as a vegan. I'd been vegan for 2 years already at that point and was THRILLED to try this place out. Vegan nachos. Nachos! Oh my goodness. Remember, there was no Follow Your Heart or Daiya making the rounds back then! The plate almost toppled it was piles so high with goodies. As others mentioned, it has a crazy cute comfy atmosphere. The people watching is almost (almost!) as delicious as the food.

When you've finally finished your grub and roll out the door, take a walk to the beach. It's close!

Pros: Nachos, Diner Style Food, Close Walk to the Beach

Cons: Not 100% Vegan, Not Super Healthy

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Great food, great place! - Edit

The Saturn Cafe sets the perfect example of what a vegetarian diner should be. The food is excellent and the staff gets it out fast. The atmosphere is nostalgic and pleasing, and the decor is entertaining. The only thing I might add is a good sound system with a juke box. Of course, the last time I went, I had to get take-out, so they may have added that already. Great place-highly recommended!

Pros: Good food., Fast service., Cool atmosphere.

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  Contributions +195

Energetic and lively veg spot. - Edit

This is definately one of my fave spots, and was a regular stop for me in my Santa Cruz days. It's a great place to eat anytime of the day, but it is absolutely amazing when you've got those 2:30am munchies and you go in for a huge plate of vegan nachos(or the smaller nachitos) - corn tortilla chips smothered in beans, salsa, avocado, black olives, green onions and tangy tofu spread. Other favorites are the vegan chilli fries, the venus(tofu spread club sandwich), the Vegan breakfast burito, andvegan breakfast, and one of the only dishes I'll backslide to vegetarianism for - the Space Cowboy, a vegan patty(3 choices)with lettuce, tomato, pickles, 2 onion rings(a little egg in the batter), fakin bacon(a little parm cheese). Also comes with cheese which I substitute for tofu spread.
Always has a couple of Vegan soup options, great big salads, and all the burgers are veggie patties with 3 vegan patty options. Some delicious vegan deserts like chocolate cake, and vegan fruit pie. Plus the best vegan milkshakes you may ever have in a few different flavors(ask your server to add a scoop of peanut butter)served old school burger joint style with a goblet, and the leftover in a stainless mixing cup...Yummm
Lots of locals feel the place is a bit pricey, but for the amount and options of food, I think it's well worth it. Great late night hours(till 4am on weekends).

Pros: Great selection., Fun atmosphere., Nice long hours.

Cons: Some say a little pricey - I disagree., occassionally a bit of a wait for food.

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A favourite - Edit

Saturn offers vegan versions of foods that I thought I would not be able to have anymore. It's a fun, lively space that is open late. The donuts and french fries really stand out. Highly recommend!

Pros: Excellent food, fun staff, Great hours

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Lived three blocks from here for 2 years - Edit

Saturn cafe made my decision to become a vegetarian/almost-vegan a pretty easy choice. I haven't been able to eat dairy in years, so you can imagine my excitement when I moved from the east coast (dairy lovers) to Santa Cruz and discovered that the place three blocks from where I lived sold dairy-free chocolate soyshakes until 4AM every night...! Trust me, some of the best vegan comfort food in the world is found at this place: steak fry baskets, sweet potato fries (YUM), huge organic green salads, the soy shakes and other vegan desserts, and oh yes, the vegetarian and vegan burgers (not all are vegan, you have to check the menu and/or ask the waiter). My roommate, a non-vegetarian, LOVES the jalapeno burgers. The staff is quite knowledgable about the ingredients in the items on the menu so don't hesitate to ask.

The best value item on the menu, without question, has to be the vegan breakfast burrito (served all day long): it's basically soyrizo, tofu scramble, potatoes, stuffed inside a huge tortilla, with sides of salsa, guacamole, and the soy sour cream. I think it's still $6.95 last time I checked (June 2010). This thing will last you two meals (unless you're starving and haven't eaten in a while :) ).

Now, here are the two bad things about Saturn besides the weak coffee (go to Delmarette!!! It's down on Pacific Ave next to Del Mar theater, organic roasted beans and strong flavor):

- Saturn is often too expensive. A soyshake is $5.25 + sweet potato fries ($5.95) or organic house salad ($4.95) + tax and tip = about $13-15. A vegan burger + fries runs $8.50-9.50 + tax and tip (as do most of the standard dinner items). Yikes. On the other hand if I *just* order the vegan burrito..... :)
- The service is sporadically crappy, and I've noticed it doesn't really matter how many people are in there. By crappy, I don't mean waiting a long time for food (although some people will have to be patient here) but I mean waiting a long time to order because they aren't sure who's supposed to be attending my table, or a waiter who can't remember what I ordered. On the other hand, they're usually friendly once you get their attention.

Pros: vegan comfort food, burgers, dessert menu esp soy shakes

Cons: price, service

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Pretty glitter - Edit

A pretty neat place with pictures of planets and columns covered in pink glitter. They have very delicious french fries and soy shakes. In fact, I've enjoyed everything I've tried here and my meat-eating parents did too. It's diner-style comfort food and probably not the healthiest, but a still fun.

However, as a vegan I really wish their menu had more vegan friendly options. As it is, I can't go too often without getting tired of the eating the same few things. Also, a couple times I've had servers who just plain forgot my order.

But overall, a good place that I would recommend to anyone, veg or not.

Pros: Good food, Fun atmosphere

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Out of this World - Edit

The food was sooo much better than I expected. Don't let the fast-food/space-theme fool you...Saturn Cafe has excellent quality veggie fare! Oour service was lightning fast. Loved the vegan burger...I will definitely go back for more exploration of Saturn!

Pros: High quality food, Fast Service, Friendly staff

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Crazy Good - Edit

My fiance and I took a road trip across the country in 2007, and Saturn Cafe was probably the best vegetarian restaurant we came across. We ate there for dinner and ended up returning the next morning for brunch. Both meals were great. Essentially, this is '50s-styled diner food translated into a vegetarian context, with veggie burgers and nachos and thick soy shakes all replacing the usual meaty, fatty items. Throw in some funky space-age decor and a very hipster-punky clientele, and you've got the restaurant that topped our road trip list. One of the best vegetarian places in America, in my opinion.

Pros: Nachos!, Shakes!, Veggie burgers!

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friendly, simple, delicious - Edit

it's all vegetarian but i was a little skeptical by the relatively small number of vegan options for dinner - there are more on the brunch menu.

but, i shouldn't have worried, because my very nice server recommended the vegan taquitos and they were really great - crunchy outside, a little fluffiness inside, served on a huge plate with beans, rice, salsa, yummy guacamole and a scoop of excellent sour-cream-esque dip.

the portions for everything were huge and my vegan chocolate shake was so big and delicious with lots of chocolate syrup. they even served me the extra shake that didn't fit into the glass - i loved that!

the staff were really casual and friendly to us and to each other - it made for a very pleasant atmosphere.

Pros: big portions, diner-style, nice servers

Cons: more veggie than vegan options

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College and Late Night Hangout - Edit

A funky place for a late night soup of desert when nothing else is open downtown. I would never take a date there. It's often very noisy and the wait is long. The food has ok portions but is of mixed quality. While some of it is "vegetarian" there is no awareness re. organic food or healthy menu items. It's basically a college burger place "on the edge" with half of the eating experience being the "ambience". Don't look behind the curtain into the kitchen...

Pros: Not expensive, open late, adventure

Cons: loud, wait, food ok at best

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Diner food veg style - Edit

I ate at this place almost everyday when I last visited Santa Cruz. Limited vegan options, but well done- I never had any problems with the service nor did I find the place to be dirty or "grungy"

Pros: Good food., Interesting decor, Friendly service.

Cons: Not so many vegan options...

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A Piece of Heaven - Edit

While vegan options are limited, what they do have is amazing. I love the vegan nachos and root beer floats. We've always had great service... The atmosphere is awesome and I love the restrooms. Saturn Cafe has to be one of my all time favorite restaurants because of the combination of atmosphere, food, and service.

Pros: great food, fun atmosphere, nice staff

Cons: none...

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good joint - Edit

Loved the decor - but grungy? Poor description. You guys make it sound like it has curtains made from old flannel shirts or something. It's a hipster spot. 100% vegetarian but vegan options are relatively limited. Fortunately, the vegan options they do have are great. The Buck Rogers is amazing. The vegan chix caesar is also great. Loved the vegan shakes. Loved the music. Loved the atmosphere. I'd be fat if I lived near this joint.

Pros: great food, great music & atmosphere, open really late

Cons: none

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