If you’ve ever been at an eatery and thought the server was a bit robotic, you should try San Francisco’s Mezli. The restaurant claims to be the first one to be totally automated. There are no humans in there. The restaurant serves Mediterranean grain bowls. Honestly, it is hard to decide if Mezli is a restaurant or a very sophisticated vending machine.

Then again, that makes sense. Only in science fiction do you have androids flying spaceships. In real life, the robot probably is the spaceship. Obviously, someone is still loading ingredients into the machine — some precooked — but that’s about it. Some restaurants let you order from a computer while a human makes your food and we’ve seen a few automated chefs, but nothing with this degree of mechanization.

Three humans do all the behind-the-scenes work which includes chopping and cooking components in an off-site kitchen. Once a day, the restaurant is loaded with raw materials. Based on orders, it mixes bowls and uses an oven to either finish the cooking or bring the ingredients to temperature.

The restaurant itself is pretty simple. It looks like a converted shipping container or a trailer and requires only electricity to operate. No water, gas, or even a vent hood. It can serve about 75 meals an hour with dishes ranging from lemon za’atar chicken with turmeric rice to a falafel bowl. Including customized options, the machine can create nearly 65,000 possible combinations.

Is it the wave of the future? In a way, it is a sophisticated form of the old automat. Will it be a modern-day coffee machine where the bowl doesn’t land right and the machine throws your rice on the bottom of the tray? We don’t know, but we will be more impressed when you load the machine with raw materials instead of the output of a kitchen.

Make no mistake: robot automation is coming to restaurants. We just wonder where the line is between a restaurant and a vending machine.