Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sunnyside Up Cafe

Sunnyside Up Cafe
2702 Lyndale Ave S

Sunday, October 14.


This last Sunday, I finally got to try the Sunnyside Up Cafe in Uptown. I had heard good things about it and was excited to actually get a chance to go there (the last time we had tried, the line was way out the door and we didn't even bother, so headed down to the French Meadow instead).

We got there around 10:45 or so on a Sunday morning, and while there was a short line of people waiting to get in, it wasn't too terribly busy and we only waited about 10 minutes total. See, the cafe doesn't have a list or reservations: you get there, stand in line, and wait to be seated. It was a little bit confusing because people seemed to be entering from the back of the restaurant as well as lining up on Lyndale, and I was a little annoyed at some of the people who seemed to not want to follow the one simple rule of "stand in line", but, it all worked out and the staff seemed to keep everyone in order, even if the patrons were, at times, confused.

The menu is pretty simple. There are some standard options, specials posted on a marker board, and Mexican type breakfasts. As I have been obsessed with Huevos Rancheros, I went with those. Lars went for one of the specials - steak, eggs benedict and lots of vegetables. I cannot recall what it was actually called, but regardless of name, my description is essentially what it was.


The interior, of which I have no photos, is much larger than it would appear from outside. It kind of looks like it would be a hole in the wall, but actually is kind of spacious once you get inside. Not gigantic, but spacious all the same.

Coffee? The coffee was very excellent and the staff probably came and refilled my mug at least five or six times! This was a big improvement from the previous breakfast at The Egg & I (whose huevos rancheros were superior, but whose coffee refills were not) a few weeks back, where we were sitting at a counter right in front of where the staff hung out in between waiting tables and right in front of the coffee pots AND I had a clear glass mug, yet got maybe one refill of coffee the entire time. I drink a lot of coffee and I drink it fast, so coffee refills are kind of important. Sunnyside did not disappoint there.

Where they did disappoint was in the food. Don't get me wrong, it was alright. Maybe it was the high expectations; maybe it was the fact that just a few weeks before I had amazing huevos; maybe it was just that my taste was off. Whatever it was, I thought that the breakfast was just okay. It looked amazing, there was a ton of food, and the cost of the meal was very reasonable. It just didn't quite deliver for me, though. My eggs were a teeny bit cold, there was way too much ranchero salsa on my plate, and, I don't know.... I can't put my finger on it, but I wasn't overly impressed. Lars seemed to like his alright, though did comment that the "steak was tough". So, there you go.


Steak special thing!

I would definitely go there again, though, for the atmosphere and to try something else. I have heard good things about the french toast there and I did like the hash brown portion of my meal. I don't give up on places quite that easily.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I have eaten breakfast at many of Minneapolis' fine breakfast establishments in the past few months. I just haven't talked about it. In chronological order, I have eaten at:

The Bad Waitress
2 E 26th St

Bar Abilene, again

Maria's Cafe
1113 E Franklin Ave

French Meadow
2610 Lyndale Ave S

The Egg & I
2828 Lyndale Ave S


In order of goodness, I would rate them:
Maria's, Egg & I, The Bad Waitress, French Meadow (if I had gotten something other than what I did, it would be rated higher) and Bar Abilene (because it's more brunch than breakfast).

This past Sunday, I also ate at another fine breakfast spot, but that will be a post in and of itself. With pictures, even!

While this does not serve as a proper review of anything, it does serve as a re-entrance into both the world of blogging and breakfasting. I have plans on both Thursday AND Friday to breakfast with Rowan (kid), so I will be sure to post about that as well.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Uptown Diner

It's been so long since I had this breakfast, I almost forgot about it! (March 25!)

The Uptown Diner
2548 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN

Firstly, can I just mention that the only reason I put Minneapolis on here is because there is a chance that someday I will breakfast in St. Paul and I need to specify where the breakfast is located? After all, St. Paul is just a few miles away and probably has a plethora of delicious eats in the morning, too!

I did not take a picture of the outside of the "new" Uptown Diner (why is it new? I don't know!), and cannot find an image to steal, but let me describe it to you: renovated old Burger King.

Okay, now you should understand that the exterior is kind of fug. But, the interior is retro and a little crowded, but basically a pretty okay place.

Rowan was with me on this breakfast adventure, and we hiked the 12-15 blocks to the restaurant on a sunny hot March day in Minneapolis. When we got there, at around 9:50, there was a wait for tables, but we managed to get seated within about seven minutes and my sister came to join us a few minutes after that. The service was pretty quick and we got our food in an amazingly short time (probably 10-15) minutes after ordering it.

Things to note:
Coffee refills were abundant.
Service was good and pretty fast, considering that it was busy.
There IS a Sunday morning rush. I'd recommend going before 10:00am for an optimum experience.
Portion size is ENORMOUS.

Here is a snapshot of the menu.
Menu at the Uptown Diner

Rowan had a waffle (not on the kids menu, though, it is good to note that they do have a kids menu!), Bird had french toast, and I had the "Tex Mex". The Tex Mex consists of hash browns, sausage, and onions served over scrambled eggs, somewhat contained underneath a flour tortilla shell and topped with salsa and cheese (and sour cream, but I opted out of that). OMGZ: HUGE.



As you can see, the Tex Mex kind of took the prize for the most impressive (in my opinion) choice of the three. I appear to be on the search for the perfect spicy breakfast. Though Al's is great, I have yet to find exactly what I am looking for. I did sample the waffle and the french toast and both were pretty good. My selection was good, but I was dissatisfied with the salsa as I think that it was Pace salsa which is fine for sitting in my living room snackin' on Doritos and salsa, but not so good when I go to a restaurant. I desire homemade spicy spicy spicy salsa, not Pace.

But, in all, it was pretty tasty and Bird liked hers enough that she went there again THAT DAY and again this past Sunday. So, there you go - Bird gives it the official tweet of approval, I guess. I deem it as pretty tasty, though I'm convinced that there are better breakfasts out there. I think we'll be at it again this weekend, and the review will be up faster than you can shake a stick.

Or something.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bar Abilene

Bar Abilene
1300 Lagoon Ave
Minneapolis, MN

Date: Sunday, March 18

Last Sunday, I met my brothers and one of the girlfriend's for brunch at Bar Abilene. My oldest brother Drew first "discovered" brunch there a few years ago and since then, whenever he is involved in a brunch decision, he chooses Bar Abilene. Bar Abilene is "Cowboy Cuisine", so it's a mix of the tex mex flavors and traditional American breakfast. It is easy, reasonably priced, not too busy, and you can eat lots of food. Enough to be filled up for an entire day!

I have never actually looked to see if they have a menu for brunch. They have a menu for other times of the day, but the brunch is an all-you-can eat buffet for $10.95 (and kids are free! Rowan was not with me at this meal, as she was with her dad and out protesting the war or something in lieu of eating. A radical at age 4! But, that is beside the point, which is breakfast/brunch, which she could have gotten for free had she been with me.). The brunch buffet has not once changed since I have been there. Your options are:

  • Chicken/Tofu fajitas with choices of sour cream, salsas, cheese, etc. for toppings
  • fresh fruit
  • mini regular waffles; mini chocolate waffles (these topped with whipped cream are pretty much the best thing ever!)
  • french toast (just okay)
  • biscuits and southwest gravy (never tried it; not my thing)
  • sausage links
  • bacon
  • scrambled eggs
  • the best potatoes ever

Plus, a build your own omelette station (which are pretty good, but can take a while), a meat station (I did not pay attention to that, but usually they serve prime rib and/or ham), and a table full of desserts.

It never changes, and for me and my love of stability, this is a good thing.

We arrived a little bit before 10:00am, and had to wait outside for a bit for the place to open. My brothers are a little naughty and were entertaining Karla and I with stories of "Jayzerz" the blue jay and amphibious hummers. Not entirely related to the food, but fun anyhow.


My other brother joined us in a bit and the doors opened and we were seated and served right away (we were the first people there, after all). It should be noted that they have excellent coffee and are fairly prompt with the refills. We all managed to stuff ourselves silly and have a good time. No complaints here, and the food, as always, was good. Especially the potatoes.

Fajita and potatoes: weird, but delicious, breakfast combination.


I would definitely recommend Bar Abilene for people who want to eat a lot (seriously: enough for the whole day!) and who like traditional breakfast foods with a slight twist on them. Also, if you value bang for your buck, then Bar Abilene delivers. For $11, you do get a good variety and can eat exactly as much as your heart desires. And, it doesn't have that icky feeling that many buffets have, since the Sunday brunch is a once a week deal and not their regular fare.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Al's by myself...

Al's Breakfast
413 14th Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

It has become a bit of a tradition of mine to go to Al's during spring break week. Al's breakfast is somewhat of a legend in the Twin Cities, as it is known for one of the best breakfasts in town along with being known for it's amazingly narrow interior. Seriously There are fourteen stools in the entire place and people who are waiting wait directly behind the diners, pressed against the wall. It is an experience well worth it for the delicious food that is served. But, we'll get to the food.

The spring break tradition began with my friend Sarah when we were both staff at the University, and after she moved away, I try to keep the tradition in place. In theory, as Al's is located in the Dinkytown area of Minneapolis, right by the University of Minnesota, it makes a lot of sense to go when there are less students around. Less students should equal less waiting. For, you see, Al's is almost always pretty packed.

On Wednesday, I decided to go to Al's for lunch, since it was Spring Break week and, well, I had been walking by it every single day for months and really needed to go. Plus, now I have a blog and I could blog about it. I think that that was the true kicker there, but we won't talk about that right now.

It was busier than I anticipated, and I had to wait about twenty minutes for my seat. There was a slight moment of panic when a young woman walked in after me and tried to get a seat with her friend who was already seated and all kinds of Al's rules were being broken. You wait for your party! You stand in line and the person who was waiting longest gets seated! You may have to move down a stool to accommodate parties of more than one! You follow the rules, you do not make up your own!!! Needless to say, girl walked out before she could have possibly budged in front of me. THANK GOODNESS. Finally, I sat down and did not even have to look at my menu to know what I wanted: the Jose. Poached eggs with amazing salsa and melted cheese served over the greasiest, best hash browns that you could ever want. Al's offers many other great diner options: pancakes (buttermilk, blueberry, walnut, blackberry, and maybe some other varieties), french toast, scrambled eggs, a few poached egg meals similar to the Jose but inferior in my opinion. They also have seasonal "specials" that seem to be posted each and every time I go there, which is about once a year at this point....that kind of negates the "special" in my mind, but patrons seem to enjoy them. The scruffy nice guy next to me ordered the "spring special" (if I recall correctly: scrambled eggs with asparagus and scallions served with hollandaise sauce and toast) and seemed to enjoy it. The specials are dead cheap and do look pretty amazing (I, personally, would go for the seasonal special with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, if I were not so hung up on the Jose).

Al's servers are great about coffee and water refills - I suppose that it helps that all their customers are right in front of their faces, but, still. It's nice. Most of the food is made on a big griddle at the front of the restaurant, so one's food kind of ends up smelling like a diner after eating there. It is advisable to have some Febreeze on hand when you go to Al's, unless you do not mind smelling like diner for an entire day.

My food this time around was good, but not as oh my god as I had hoped that it would be. It could be that I set my expectations way too high and was hoping that Al's could erase some of the bitterness that I still have for Butter. But, once I was seated and ordered, it came out pretty quickly and it was a great experience. A lot of Al's has to do with the "experience".

I've lifted some pictures from a recent (yikes!) health code article about the restaurant. The pictures do not show the true grittiness of the place, but it's gritty in a good way (like I would ever mean that as a bad thing. Pfft.).

Overall, I would say that Al's gives me everything I want in a breakfast: ambience, lots of coffee, and greasy food. I would consider Al's a must for those interested in breakfast in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Butter Bakery and Cafe
3544 Grand Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408

I decided on Saturday that I would start a new tradition with my 4.75 year old daughter, and that tradition would be a regular breakfast venture in the twin cities area. I have been reading other breakfast blogs, some for the TC, some for other areas (I'm looking at you, pdxbreakfastblog) and do not know if I can live up to the wit and actual reviewing that these bloggers accomplish in their blogs, but I will do what I can.

Our first breakfast was at Butter. I had been wanting to try this place for breakfast for almost six months, since I went there for coffee with my brother and started salivating over every other patron's plates full of food while I sat there nursing my americano. So, on Sunday, breakfast (or as I always say: brekkie) was there.

We got there at about 11am and there was a line at the counter to order (no wait staff - all ordering is done at the counter) and not very many available seats. I took this as a good sign. People like it here! When it was our turn, I ordered the migas with potatoes and a coffee, while Rowan wanted oatmeal. Diners do not get numbers, but pictures to bring to their tables. We got a hammerhead shark, which was pretty awesome, and staked out a place at the countertop on barstools. We did come prepared with a backpack with a coloring book and crayons, but Butter has games and toys for kids, which is a definite plus.

What was not a definite plus was the actual food. While I did eat my whole meal, I was expecting the meal to be what it claimed to be on the menu: scrambled eggs w/ corn tortilla strips, onion, jalapeno, red pepper, cheddar cheese & salsa. It was more of a round circle of eggs with onion, jalapeno, and chedder cheese at the bottom of the egg mixture -- almost like an omelette without the bottom half. No tortilla strips, no red pepper. It was.....okay. The potatoes were fried potatoes and were cold and kind of soggy. Not the best 'taters I've ever eaten, that is for sure.

Rowan seemed to enjoy her oatmeal, though was disappointed that it was not a kid's oatmeal, as promised, with m&ms, but came instead with cream (that she kept drinking out of the pitcher), brown sugar, and granola/raisins (not a big hit). She ate almost all of the adult portion, so it must have been fine.

Overall, the prices are cheap, the coffee is good (free refills, if you can catch someone's attention) and the atmosphere is good. The food, however, is not something to write home about. I would maybe give this place another chance, but only if I ran out of options in Minneapolis, St. Paul and probably the inner ring of suburbs. (Yikes!) That said, I would totally meet someone for coffee there. COFFEE, not weird rubbery circle eggs and sad soggy potatoes.