SAME Cafe provides pay-what-you-can veggie delights

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Westword ran a cover story on SAME Cafe (SAME stands for "So All May Eat") more than two years ago -- and the pay-what-you-can concept restaurant is still going strong, judging from the lunch crowd yesterday (not to mention the two other pay-what-you-can eateries that have opened around town). The line at the counter was small but steady as people poured in to order grub and then took their plates outside so that they could enjoy their meals in the sunshine.

The restaurant is a real boon to the community, offering healthy, warm, delicious food at whatever price you can afford -- healthy, warm, delicious vegetarian and vegan food, in particular.

The format at SAME is simple:There are always two salads, two soups and two pizzas. The menu is posted at the counter, where you order your food (and come back for seconds if you're so inclined). And since the menu is created with veggie-lovers in mind, non-meat-eaters will always find plenty of options at the counter. Yesterday, for example, the pizza choices were pepperoni and a vegetarian-friendly olive-and-portobello-mushroom slice (pictured above, with the mixed-greens salad). Obviously, vegans will want to stay away from the pizza offering -- but between the greens salad and the soup options, we had no problem finding a satisfying lunch. The salad was dressed with balsamic vinaigrette (although a few more dressing options were offered); our soup choice was the beefiest meat-free French onion soup you'll find in Denver, with sliced onions and a savory, mouth-watering broth that the menu promised was 100 percent vegan.

Once you've finished your meal and eaten all the seconds, or thirds, you might want, you drop your payment -- whatever you think your lunch is worth -- in the donation box at SAME's front counter. Or, in lieu of payment, you can give an hour of service in the kitchen and work off your meal.

SAME is open for lunch from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday; for information, call 720-530-6853 or visit www.soallmayeat.org.

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