In my occupation, traveling the country as often as I do, I am not constricted to the requirements of most human beings – such as residing anywhere. Technically I am homeless. So when I called my mother to tell her I had just eaten in an alley way, she was needless to say, concerned.
Allow me to introduce you to Al’s Breakfast (It’s the little building with the blue and white stripes). This little – and I mean little – restaurant in Minneapolis serves up some of the best breakfast I have ever had. Al’s Breakfast has been a staple in the Dinkytown community near the University of Minnesota since 1959.
However, the story of Al’s Breakfast starts before that.
In 1937 the neighboring hardware store got permission from the city to use the alley way for storage. The hardware store closed off the alley way and used it to store sheet metal. Shortly thereafter an entrepreneur turned the alley way into a hamburger joint. Then in 1950 Al Bergstrom took over the alley way and Al’s Breakfast began.
Al’s Breakfast is unique for many reasons:
- It is the skinniest building in Minneapolis at only 10 feet wide.
- They still use the same “short order system” invented by Al in 1950
- No credit cards, cash only. You can pre-pay in a little yellow “meal book” that they keep behind the counter. This tradition started because Al would accept payment from railroad workers who only got paid once a month.
- Limited seating. Because there are only 14 seats in the restaurant, and they are all side by side, it may sometimes be difficult to sit next to those in your party. However, the nice people at Al’s will help you out with that. They have developed a high-tech system of seating management. When a new crowd comes in the waiter will holler out “Alright I need everyone to move down one seat”. So being a good patron you pick up your plate and move.
What did I get? I thought you’d never ask.
Blueberry and Walnut Pancakes – Pancakes are a must at Al’s. Best pancake I have ever had.
The Winter Special – Scambled eggs with fresh spinach, feta, tomatoes, scallions and toast.
Homeless or not this meal was fit for a king. So next time you are in Minneapolis, no matter what your status of residency, I highly encourage you to eat in this alley way.