Saturn Cafe is an extremely hip, vegetarian, queer-friendly restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz, California. It's in a round building on Pacific Ave. (a block away from the bus station), and has the biggest selection of vegetarian burgers you'll find in a restaurant.

From the history on their page: "The Saturn has been in existence since 1979. It was founded by a very cool guy named Don Lane (he was also the Mayor of Santa Cruz in 1992) who started the Saturn in a converted house on Mission St. By 1981 they had outgrown that particular location and moved across the street to 1230 Mission St., where it remained for 17 years. Originally the Saturn served soups, salads, sandwiches, and outrageous desserts and was strictly counter service. Over the years the menu grew, and in 1996, when the ownership changed to Annie Schuessler and Tristan Nathe, and later Abigail Andromacha in 1997, we switched to table service and bought ourselves a real grill and a fryer, thus beginning the transformation into the real restaurant world. On New Years Eve at virtually the stroke of midnight, Saturn Cafe at 1230 Mission St. became a thing of the past as an electrical fire burnt the inside of the cafe beyond repair. We decided we should take the hint and find ourselves a new home for the new millenium. We gazed longingly at the empty, round shaped building at the corner of Laurel and Pacific and dreamed of neon Saturn rings and a mezzanine. We've had to put the mezzanine plan on hold until we have more money, but every other fantasy we have been able to dream up has found a way into the new Saturn, 145 Laurel Street."

Inside this round building you have to follow a black spiral wall with bright red flames painted on it to the counter or wait-to-be-seated area. Seating is an adventure, because each table has a different theme. I've sat at the employee table, which is covered with silly and outrageous polaroids of the people who work there, a table covered with religious paraphernalia, a table which houses toys from about any happy meal that you can think of, a fairy table, the tea party table, an alien table, and one covered in recipes and pictures from cookbooks that must be out of the 60s or 70s.

But what about the food? Expensive, unless you go to Cheap Eats (11-5 on weekdays) when select menu items are at a drastic discount. On the whole very yummy. I always get the nachos (of which they have a vegan variety if you're interested), but they also have lots of vegetarian burgers and sandwiches, most of which have some sort of fake meat. Not just gardenburger, either: you can choose between that, a Boca burger, or a Chix patty, which is meant to taste like chicken. The desserts are still outrageous and very very yummy, although most aren't dairy-free. They do have some of the best vegan chocolate pie around, though.

Their logo is a stylized Saturn, complete with rings and flames coming out of it, and they sell it on shirts, stickers, and temporary tattoos. Come by on a Tuesday evening for live music, or wear a wig on a Wednesday for a 20% discount. Oh, and take a picture of yourself in the photo sticker booth, which prints teeny tiny photo stickers with psychedelic backgrounds (which are stuck all over the booth and most of the tables, and the menus, and the sugar containers, and the bathroom...), or use the jukebox, which features Bjork, Sleater Kinney, and Ani Difranco, among others. Oh, and try to use the bathroom while you're there, if only to see the giant Elvis drag king on one door and the fabulous fairy drag queen on the other.

For the menu, visit