Al’s Breakfast

One of the best

Al’s is heaven for those of us who spend our lives in search of great diner breakfast. It is smaller than small, wedged perpendicular to 14th Avenue among the shops of Dinkytown, near the University of Minnesota. Customers waiting for one of the fourteen stools at the counter stand hovering just above and behind those who are seated and eating.

In the narrow space between the counter and the back bar, where Al’s hash slingers race to and fro with seasoned aplomb, decor consists of pictures of Elvis and Wayne Newton, foreign currency, and a sign that advises, TIPPING IS NOT A CITY IN RUSSIA (curiously, changed from an earlier sign that said TIPPING IS NOT A CITY IN CHINA). Also behind the counter is a pile of meal ticket books, each inscribed with someone’s name. Many of Al’s customers buy these books and keep them here, so they know they can come eat, using coupons instead of dollars, even when their wallet is empty.

The house specialty is pancakes, which are made with either a whole wheat or buttermilk batter, and are available studded with blueberries, walnuts or corn, kernels. We love blueberries and buttermilk — an enchanting balance of sweet fruit poised in their faintly sour medium, infused with butter. They are barely sticky, delicate-textured, and profoundly satisfying, especially when drizzled with maple syrup. Al’s flapjacks are sold as a short stack (2), regular (3), or long (4); and you can have your waitress garnish them with sour cream and/or strawberries.

The short-order chef up front spends his time poaching eggs, constructing omelets, and griddle-cooking corned beef hash and crisp hash browns. It is an old-fashioned pleasure to watch this guy work, handling about a dozen orders at a time, always snatching whatever he is frying, poaching, or grilling away from the heat at the peak of its perfection.

What to Eat
Al’s Breakfast, Pancakes
Pancakes arrive with a large globe of good Minnesota butter melting on top.
Al’s Breakfast, Waffle
Instead of having small bits of the meat, this bacon waffle contains long strips.
Al’s Breakfast, Corned Beef Hash
Corned Beef Hash
Not for the nutritionally timid, Al's corned beef hash fairly glistens with grease and is much heavier on potatoes than corned beef.
Al’s Breakfast, Hash Browns
Hash Browns
Stools towards the front of the diner offer a view of the extremely well-seasoned griddle where piles of hash browns sizzle.
Al’s Breakfast, Huevos Rancheros
Huevos Rancheros
Green peppers, banana peppers, fried onions are folded into scrambled eggs to make Al's huevos rancheros. The salsa on top is tongue-tickling hot.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday9am - 1pm
Monday7am - 1pm
Wednesday7am - 1pm
Thursday7am - 1pm
Friday7am - 1pm
Saturday7am - 1pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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