A Sunday morning visit to Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis, MN

The tiny Al's Breakfast in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis
The tiny Al’s Breakfast in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis

It was my last day in Minneapolis before heading back to Los Angeles, and I knew I wanted breakfast, so I headed to Al’s Breakfast. Dating back to 1950, Al’s Breakfast is an iconic Minneapolis diner known for its scratch-made dishes and large portions.

I heard about Al’s Breakfast when Guy Fieri stopped by on his Food Network television show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” I knew this was the place for me when I saw the tiny diner with only 14 bar stools serving up delicious plates of pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and more.

After reading reviews on Yelp, I debated whether to go since it was the weekend and I knew the wait would be long. To make matters worse, the Vikings were in town and they play just down the road, so I knew the area would be even more crowded than usual.

After much debate, I realized that I couldn’t come to Minneapolis and not visit Al’s Breakfast. I told myself that the wait would be worth it.

The Line at Al’s Breakfast

There's almost always a line out front
There’s almost always a line out front

It was a Sunday morning.

My goal was to arrive early, but I woke up later than expected and left my hotel at 10:30 AM.

When I arrived at the restaurant around 11:00 AM, there was a line out the door, as expected. The tiny restaurant’s facade was simple: a blue awning, wooden shingles, and a small window. Watching everyone peek through the window at the diners inside was funny. Al’s Breakfast was the epitome of a dive bar.

With only a few people ahead of me, I was optimistic about the wait.

It took me about 20 minutes to reach the restaurant’s front door. Once inside, I realized the wait and the line continued.

The single-person line extended toward the end of the tiny dining room. Those waiting in line had to calmly stand against a brick wall directly behind seated guests, hoping and waiting for them to finish eating and move on.

When one person left, one person from the line would sit. With people waiting behind the stools, there was just enough room for people to pass by and exit.

I was so excited when I reached the front of the line. After 56 minutes of waiting, I finally got to sit on one of the 14 coveted bar stools.

Interior of Al’s Breakfast

Sadly, the wait continues once you get inside the restaurant
Sadly, the wait continues once you get inside the restaurant

Since there were only 14 bar stools, seating was extremely limited. You should have no issues if you are dining alone or with another person. If you are in a group of three or more, you might be able to sit together, but you might not.

It wasn’t uncommon for the servers to ask people already sitting to get up and move down to another bar stool, making room for more people.

It was all part of the experience.

Somehow, this tiny grill feeds hundreds of hungry people a day
Somehow, this tiny grill feeds hundreds of hungry people a day

The red bar stools may have been extremely uncomfortable, and the bar was slightly slanted, but I was just happy to be sitting.

Once you have a seat, you will soon forget about the wait and that hungry people are standing right behind you, waiting for you to hurry up and eat.

After you order, look around at your surroundings. Watching and listening to the servers and chefs yell food and drink orders back and forth was entertaining. And the smells of food on the grill were amazing.

The kitsch interior of Al's Breakfast
The kitsch interior of Al’s Breakfast

The decor was what made Al’s Breakfast special.

It’s hard to describe the decor. Dim lighting, low white ceilings, walls, tacky Christmas lights and lamps, and money hanging on the wall from all corners of the globe. I felt like I stepped back in time into a 1950s diner. It was strange, but I enjoyed it.

You might see customers’ names on yellow cards behind the bar. These yellow cards were prepaid tabs for frequent customers. When these customers spent money at the restaurant, money was deducted from their cards.

The Jose

The Jose, one of the more popular dishes served at Al's Breakfast
The Jose, one of the more popular dishes

If there were one signature dish at Al’s Breakfast, it would have to be The Jose with one ($5.50) or two ($6.90) poached eggs, cheddar cheese, hash browns, salsa, and a side of white or wheat bread. This classic dish, popular with locals and tourists, has a cult following and has even been featured on television. Just remember that The Jose is massive, so come hungry.

The story goes that a customer named Jose created this dish. Ironically, he didn’t enjoy the dish, but over time, the dish became popular among college students from the nearby University of Minnesota.

This thing was greasy and good. Nothing was fancy here, just a bed of crispy hash browns topped with a couple of poached eggs, lots of melted smoky cheddar cheese, and a little spicy salsa. Somehow, it all comes together perfectly.

Each bite of The Jose was perfect. Though slightly overcooked, the eggs rewarded me with a silky yellow yolk mixed wonderfully with gooey cheese, hot and crispy hash browns, and fresh salsa.

Though there wasn’t much of it, the homemade salsa was spot on. The fresh and bright salsa added color and a good kick of heat. The salsa worked well with the otherwise greasy and cheesy dish.

Even with an assortment of hot sauces available, I will ask for an extra side of salsa next time.

I might try to make my version of The Jose at home, but I don’t think I could ever make it as well as Al’s Breakfast does.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberries and Walnuts

Short stack buttermilk pancake with blueberries and walnuts
Short stack buttermilk pancake with blueberries and walnuts

Having read great reviews about the pancakes, I knew I had to order a Short Stack Buttermilk Pancake with Blueberries and Walnuts ($3.20).

At Al’s Breakfast, you have the option of four sizes of pancakes: Short Stack (S.S.), Short (Sh.), Regular (Reg.), and Long. I went for the smallest pancake possible since I had already eaten every morsel of The Jose.

Just as with The Jose, this dish was simple simple but delicious.

The pancake was fluffy and cooked to a perfect golden brown. Each bite was moist. What I also loved about the pancake was that every bite had blueberries and walnuts. When they say blueberries and walnuts, they mean it.

For an extra 85 cents, you can get a half order of pure maple syrup to add to your pancakes instead of the house syrup. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Service at Al’s Breakfast

Before I arrived, I thought the service had to be cold and unfriendly since the main goal of Al’s Breakfast was to get people in and out as quickly as possible.

Surprisingly, the service was friendly, efficient, and laid-back. Though the servers seemed to be always running around and rushing, they checked up on me constantly and refilled my drink when needed.

It was also fun to watch the servers and chefs yell orders at each other and banter back and forth.


Al’s Breakfast might not be the best breakfast I have ever had, but it was one of the most unique and memorable restaurant experiences I have ever had at a diner.

The wait might have been long for a seat, the restaurant was tiny and claustrophobic, and I had to eat quickly and move on, but the effort was worth it. When I took a seat at the bar, I could tell right away that the chefs put a lot of love and care into the food they made.

The greasy and delicious food, reasonable prices, charming and quirking interior and décor, friendly servers, and the unique experience make Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown a must-visit restaurant in Minneapolis.


  • The Jose
  • Unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else
  • Intimate setting
  • Great pancakes
  • Reasonable prices


  • Usually a wait, which can be long on weekends
  • Cash only
  • Only 14 bar stools, so be prepared to get up and move when asked
  • People will be standing behind you while you eat
  • No bathrooms


Monday - Saturday: 6:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Sunday: 9:00AM - 1:00PM


413 14th Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
GPS Coordinates: 44.981032,-93.235544




Last Updated on April 18, 2024

2 thoughts on “A Sunday morning visit to Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis, MN”

  1. They do have a bathroom, just have to ask. They have to move a chunk of the counter and let you in the back.

    You can and will be seated if you have a large group, but agreed that it’s kind of a pain.

    Weekdays closer to closing time is probably the best time to come busy wise.


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