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The Hard Times Cafe

The Hard Times Cafe serves large portions of vegetarian and vegan food from 5:50 a.m. to 4:20 a.m.; in other words, it's a 22.5-hour restaurant. Caffeine is available in many forms (coffees, espressos, Jolt, and the even-more powerful Brainwash), and they don't serve coffee without the caffeine. The vegetarian dishes which don't imitate meat dishes are generally good; try the vegetable sandwich ($3.50), rice plate ($2.50) and falafel platter ($3.75), as well as their scones and other baked goods. The dishes which do imitate meat dishes vary more; the tacos are a bit bland, and the chili is unusually (and to my mind, uncomfortably) spicy to compensate for the lack of meat. One customer always amuses himself by watching the fish tank; many others play go and chess, filling the room with smoke from tobacco and other herbs. Loud music, unusual hairdos, tattoos and body-piercings also add to the ambience.

Other unusual stuff about the Hard Times Cafe: 1) Worker owned. 2) A small good-will set-up in the corner. 3) The do-it-yourself system: While you're in line, write your order on one of their small forms.

Give the form and your money to the cashier; if you want a glass of water, ask for it now. The cook will ring a gong and call out your name once the food is ready; pick up your meal and silverware at the counter. When you're finished eating, bus your dishes in the two provided tubs.

Directions to Hard Times from the Geometry Center: Take Washington Ave. across 35-W. Take a right at the big intersection (Seven Corners); this gets you onto Cedar. Turn left onto Riverside at the stop light; Hard Times will be about a block down on the right.

The New Riverside Cafe

The nearby New Riverside Cafe (corner of Cedar and Riverside, 333-4814) also serves vegetarian food, and is also worker-owned. Entrees change daily, but many smaller dishes (such as the wok plates) are always on the menu and always good. They have live music almost every night, and you can listen to it while sipping one of their organic coffees. This restaurant is much calmer than the Hard Times (you can get your coffee decaf.), and the clientele is correspondingly different: serious vegetarian s and vintage hippies, rather than the punk rock crowd. Closes 11:00 week nights, 12:00 weekends.

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Created: Jun 18 1996 --- Last modified: Jun 18 1996