Al’s Breakfast of Minneapolis, Minnesota: prosaic American breakfast as an art form (blissful altar of breakfast post #2)

Al’s is an institution. A good one. Of course, I didn’t know that the first time I moseyed there. It is not much bigger than a postage stamp. The Wikipedia entry says it seats fourteen people. Apparently its diminutive nature didn’t stop it from winning a James Beard award.

People wait in line for seats to open up. It’s worth it. Just try to avoid going between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m. – or just be very very patient.

You can get a fancy flourish or two. Yeah, a little tomato, basil, or this or that might show up. But Al’s treats honest, prosaic American breakfast as an art form. In my last visit, I ordered some toast, eggs, and sausage. The manager gave me two lovely eggs the cook fried gently in butter to a perfect “over medium.” Eggs can get too dry. Or burnt. Or whatever. Or just boring, which is probably the worst outcome. With Al’s eggs, I could enjoy everything: the sweetness of the butter playing against the yolk and white; the tenderness of the “medium” I’d requested; and happily pairing the egg with toast or sausage in alternating bites. Oh, and the pancakes. Maybe that was a different visit. The blueberry pancakes were spectacular. The tartness of the berries accentuated the tender texture of the pancakes. A little butter and syrup heightened the superb pancake experience into true love. Al’s is to the breakfast grill what Rudy Galindo is to the ice rink: a world-class champion. Work it, Al’s!

Sure, you could certainly visit it for its quirky ambience. It’s stuck in a converted alleyway in the middle of Dinkytown, shouting distance from the University of Minnesota. You could be sitting next to some New Yorkers experiencing Al’s for the first time, or a ex-Minneapolite carrying a torch for Al’s all the way from who knows where. Listening to the staff communicate with each other and the customers makes for great people-watching. But make no mistake, this place has got the absolute chops DOWN. Al’s got its reputation the old-fashioned way: by earning it!

...not much wider than a bicycle is long

(post #2 in a series about BREAKFAST!)

Al’s Breakfast
413 14th Ave. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
612-331-9991
PHOTO CREDITS:
  • first photo showing much of the restaurant above appears by kind permission of m.papaya;
  • second photo by Megan Mayer of mnartists.org; and
  • the third photo appears by kind permission of sidesalad.
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4 responses to “Al’s Breakfast of Minneapolis, Minnesota: prosaic American breakfast as an art form (blissful altar of breakfast post #2)

  1. I feel like running to Al’s.
    My mouth was watering reading your piece.

    {Yes, you should get to Al’s the first opportunity you get! And thank you for the compliment!}

  2. Al’s could easily be described as a greasy spoon but it’s more than that; there’s grease on the walls too! The food is always good, the staff is irreverent and the customers don’t mind moving down a seat or two to make room for the next hungry soul. My daughter Megan lives there (and is responsible for the picture of Grinna above) and no visit would be complete without a meal at Al’s.

    {Thanks for your comment! Al’s for me proves the adage that good things come in small packages, square footage notwithstanding!}

  3. Pingback: South Asian Foods, giving you halwa puri, yes, in Fridley, MN (blissful altar of breakfast post #3) « Dude, where’s the stove?

  4. Pingback: Love Letter to the Twin Cities « Dude, where’s the stove?

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