The weather was sunny and warm, turning to hot, as we stood out on the sidewalk in front of Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown, the area near the U of M campus in Minneapolis, MN. What makes Dinkytown dinky, I wondered? Al’s Breakfast (the restaurant, not the food). The food is big. In fact, the Biker Chef said, as he wiped the egg’s Benedict off his chin, “That’s a great way to start off my Father’s Day weekend, with a big, sweaty breakfast.” Sweaty because it can get a little warm waiting for over an hour out on the sidewalk with the sun beating down on our fair skin and turning it pink. Sweaty because it’s hot in Al’s dinky diner. Sweaty because you stand behind the 14 stools that are set up in front of the stove and workers. Sweaty because it’s hot and delicious.
The crowd is fairly friendly as they patiently wait for their big, sweaty breakfast at Al’s. The guy holding the little boy was excited to share his happy place with us. He said with conviction, “It’s worth the wait.” Even when they had to wait with two small kids. They did well, lettin the boy chase up the sidewalk a little. He told us how much he likes the place and gave us a little history. It’s actually built between two buildings. I don’t think there is a bathroom, so plan ahead. Some people run into the coffee shop next door for a brew to sip and hold as they wait, and perhaps use the bathroom. The guy in the hat chatted it up with the Biker Chef. He’s from Texas and had heard about the place. His wife was at the art show at the Stone Arch Bridge. I wish we’d had time to go check that out. The guys in the Cubs shirts behind us got razzed a bit. The dad told them, “Ya, the line for Cubs fans is around the corner.” They chuckled.
Here’s how it works. The dad told us that on a Saturday morning, the line isn’t very long about five minutes before they open. Once they open, the first 14 get a seat. The next 14, or so, stand behind them and watch them eat, or plan what they’ll have. We looked at the menu. The rest snake out onto the sidewalk to wait their turn. Dress accordingly, and use the bathroom before you arrive. I’m sure it’s a chilly wait in January! The family of four and the Texan were just ahead of us, so when the first seat opened, they had the dad set his little girl at the counter. “She’ll take some dinosaurs,” he said. They have dinosaurs behind the counter for the kiddos to play with while they wait. It wasn’t long until the other three stools next to her opened up for the rest of the family. The Texan got the next single seat, then it was our turn. We ended up right in front of the grill. Whew! As if we weren’t hot enough. Still, it’s the Chef’s favorite seat, to be near the other chefs and talk shop.
And, yes, it was worth the wait.
The Biker Chef had eggs Benedict, hash browns, and we just had to try the blueberry pancake. Yum!
And, I ordered the Dinkytown omelet – cheddar cheese, ham, and onions. My favorite! With hash browns and toast, juice and coffee. Mmm. It’s a fun place to eat. The staff is funny, and the food is delicious. A big, sweaty breakfast is a great way to start any weekend! (or day). Visit their Facebook page for daily specials and more info on the restaurant.