Words and Photos by Rachel Rex
As a vegetarian who adores breakfast, I sometimes find it heartbreaking when I read a menu at a diner. There tend to be vegetarian options, but plenty of other meals include meat, and it feels disingenuous to ask for special treatment towards my dietary preferences. So when I heard about a vegetarian diner – titled Veggie Galaxy, at that – I knew I had to check it out.
Everything about Veggie Galaxy exudes a typical diner aesthetic: neon signage, big vinyl booths, counter seating with red-bottom stools, futuristic lighting fixtures. A closer look at the big laminated menus, though, reveals that all the dishes are vegetarian and can be made vegan. But don’t shudder, all-American carnivores – there’s a whole page dedicated to frappes, and breakfast is served all day, so Veggie Galaxy doesn’t stray far into vegan trendiness.
For drinks, we decided on a peanut butter and chocolate frappe (made with FoMu ice cream) and a cocktail called Your Mom - sweet vermouth, bitters, champagne, and orange juice. The frappe was thick, nearly undrinkable with a straw, but tasted just as good as any frappe made from cow’s milk. The mixed drink was mild but yummy; I’m just pleased a diner would have cocktails.
If you’re going to a vegetarian diner, you kind of have to go all out and try at least one meat substitute, right? I went with the chick’n and waffles, which can be a staple at other establishments. Instead of regular chicken, this dish uses a house-made seitan. Ever indecisive, I got it with gravy and syrup, and I somehow enjoyed both the savory and sweet options on my food.
I haven’t had meat in seven years, but I remember the taste of chicken enough to know that Veggie Galaxy’s version isn’t a great substitute. The texture and smell of this chick’n scared my boyfriend, and it was somewhat flavorless despite the spices loaded inside. Nevertheless, I’ve grown used to meat substitutes, and combined with the extra fluffy waffles, gravy, and syrup, it all tasted pretty good to me.
My boyfriend decided on simple chocolate chip pancakes, which comes with a caramelized banana butter, elevating this diner staple. I thought that once you try one diner-style pancake, you’d tried them all, but this cinnamon-y version stood out!
The final test to see if a new diner, which draws such inspiration from old-school establishments, is up to the task? Leaving totally full. Thoroughly food coma’d out, I left while already planning which frappe I wanted to try on my next visit.
450 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139