Breakfast at night in the Twin Cities

It’s OK to cheat on dinner. Here’s where to shatter the dominant mealtime paradigm and order breakfast at night.

STORY BY MECCA BOS
Updated 1/30/2014

If you are a citizen of this planet Earth, then chances are you know the score. Go to school, get a good job, buy a house, have a family and never, ever, be late for work. And of course, those are just a few of the ways they keep us conforming.

Then, of course, there are traffic lights and the whole go-on-green, stop-on-red thing, walking on the right, and queueing up in a single-file line. There are so many “have tos” and “gottas” to this business of being a human that sometimes you wonder if the concept of individuality is just a lie they tell all the little children for the hell of it. And fibbing to kids is one of the few things you get to do for the hell of it, along with wearing mismatched socks and eating breakfast for dinner.

Getting to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, is one of the most liberating things about being a grownup. Sure, the authorities say you should eat tall stacks of kale, gobs of nuts and yogurt for days. But just this once, thumb your nose at all of that. Strap on your big-girl shoes and order up some pancakes with your Chardonnay. Here are 10 places where you can do just that.

 

The Freehouse

Breakfast served 6:30 a.m.-2 a.m. • 701 Washington Av. N., Mpls. • 612-339-7011 • www.freehousempls.com

“Breakfast to beer” may sound like a tagline out of some “Animal House” frat boy’s imagination, but it is probably just that spirit that’s keeping the newest addition to the hipper-every-day North Loop packed to its stainless-steel rafters. And if you’ve never had the urge to pop a cold one and slam it down with your egg sandwich, you’re probably also not the sort who’s rolled out of bed just before dusk, wondered what last night was all about, and been sure of only one thing: hair of the dog + eggs = life. If you’ve just got to feel somewhat adult about all of this, try the Mofongo N Eggs, a sophisticated Caribbean concoction of fried plantains married with pork, and topped with an egg, natch.

 

The Lowry

Breakfast served 6:30 a.m.-2 a.m. • 2112 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-341-2112 • www.thelowryuptown.com

The place with “burgers, whiskey, oysters & eggs” on the awning, the Lowry seizes upon your craving imagination, setting off all sorts of lizard-brain bells that let you know it’s OK to give in: The heart wants what it wants. At this fast-becoming-an-Uptown-institution, soothe your aching heart with a Hangtown Fry — oysters and eggs on what else but a burger bun. Or the shirred eggs, which could just as soon be an elegant dinner entree, with mushrooms, swiss and truffle cream. Feeling more pedestrian than all that? Benedicts, browns and burritos with eggs are all here, too, not to mention late-night happy hour, every night from 10 to close.

 

Uptown Diner

Breakfast served until midnight Thu. and 24 hours Fri.-Sat. • 2548 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-874-0481 • www.uptown-diner.com

There is something iconic-American about the image of a diner all lit up at night. Maybe it’s Edward Hopper’s fault, or the fantasy of a perfect first date with a mysterious stranger, but bellying up to a short-order plate of greasy fried eggs plus a bottomless cuppa seems like something of a birthright. Uptown hipsters seem to buy into this idea in droves, judging from the throngs of, um, diners who pack the joint 24 hours a day on weekends. No booze sold here, so it’s just the promise of “Pancake Heaven,” “Sweet Utopia” and “The Art of Hollandaise,” as their menu headings read, that keeps them sated well into those wee hours.

 

Hell’s Kitchen

Breakfast served until 11 p.m. • 80 S. 9th St., Mpls. • 612-332-4700 • www.hells­kitcheninc.com

This underground lair might have the stronghold on the best place to get your brek-for-dinner on, as its hybrid bar-meets-restaurant-meets-nightclub practically begs out for do-what-you-like depravity. Many of HK’s signature dishes are the sorts of singular concoctions that don’t want to be cornered in the first place: things like lemon-ricotta hotcakes, made with the zest of real lemon and rendered lush with cheese, or Mahnomin Porridge, a genius coming-together of Indian-harvested wild rice, roasted hazelnuts, dried fruits, cream and maple syrup. Also: toasted sausage bread. These things are breakfast for all occasions, sunshine be damned.

 

Key’s Cafe

Breakfast served until 10 p.m. (Mpls.) • nine metro locations • www. keyscafe.com

This family-owned, family-friendly cafe has always had its finger on the pulse of what we crave, day and night. Known best for their hulking omelets, like “The Everything” (ham, bacon, sausage, more sausage, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, green pepper, tomato, hashbrowns and lots of cheese) are probably best left for evening proclivities anyway, since you’re obviously not going to get anything else done once you’ve downed that thing, python-like. Keys also knows what kids like — pancakes, French toast and Cocoa Puffs. All day, every day.

 

Mickey’s Dining Car

Breakfast served 24 hours • 36 W. 7th St., St. Paul • 651-222-5633 • www.mickeysdiningcar.com

Described by a onetime employee as the kind of place where you can tell a patron to “sit down and shut up!” and they’ll still leave a tip. If you don’t know Mickey’s Dining Car, well, then you ain’t from around here, are you? The entirety of this newspaper could be devoted to its history and then some, but suffice it to say an evening visit to this picturesque neon wonder is an event in itself — you’re likely to encounter the kinds of characters who seemingly jumped straight off the page. Prices, and dishes, from a time gone by make it as democratic a space as there ever was, a place for eggs how you like ’em, a cup to warm your hands upon, and a bit of sardonic sass from a take-no-mess restaurant lifer.

 

Uptown Cafeteria

Breakfast served until close • 3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-877-7263 • www.uptowncafeteria.com

If you’re really game to get your drink on while putting down a base for it all to land upon, consider the Cafeteria, where the morningtime dishes are not myriad at night, but are worth hunting down. You’ll sup (breakfast?) like a Southern trucker on chicken & waffles with red-eye country gravy, the waffles laced with whiskey, or shrimp and grits topped with a poached egg and smoked bacon. Or, get straight to business and order some country-fried bacon off the appetizer menu. Dipped in batter and served with syrup, it goes great with brown liquor, neat.

 

Parka

Breakfast served until 10 p.m. • 4021 E. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-886-1585 • www.parkampls.com

You know that hip little space that’s one part coffee shop, one part bistro, one part gallery and altogether super cool? That’s Parka, the place you go to almost anytime, for any reason — with the kids, on a date, all by yourself with iPad in tow; when you’re hungry, when you’re not, when the walls are closing in on you, when you need an ever-loving beer. And hey, since you’re in that kind of a mood anyway, why not infuse your confusion with some baked French toast or an egg sammie (which never goes out of style, no matter what time of day or season). Your date can have the coconut-squash soup if she’s all fancy like that, and the two of you can top it all off with a Rustica pastry and a Surly Bender.

 

Rye Deli

Breakfast served until midnight • 1930 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-871-1200 • www.ryedeli.com

The Eastern European deli may have been one of the original places for the get-what-you-want-when-you-want-it ethos, as a comforting place for community congregation and a taste of the old country. In the tradition of places like New York’s Katz’s Delicatessen, where you can get an all-day omelet with corned beef or tongue, or of course lox and onion, Rye Deli also knows these cravings know no boundaries. At Rye, have your “all-day eggs” with smoked meat or bacon, or our fave, grilled Vienna salami. The lox is there, too, in the “Leo Scramble” served with burnt onions, or for lighter tastes, the Mideastern-inspired pita-rito, with scrambies folded into a pita with feta and piquant chimichurri.

 

The Bad Waitress

Breakfast served until 11 p.m. • 2 E. 26th St., Mpls. • 612-872-7575 • www.thebadwaitress.com

You may not think advertising an establishment’s shortcoming would make for such a beloved neighborhood draw, but the Bad Waitress’ moniker refers more to its counter-style service than any actual front-of-house failings. Sort of a sassy retro diner on its face with a natural/organic heart of gold, the Eat Street original will sate that tofu-hash hole in your belly after a night of bar crawling down Nicollet Avenue. Vegan sausage and cheese options make that late-night gut torpedo a little less regrettable in the morning.

Back To Top