Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

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cooperrez
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby cooperrez » March 29th, 2016, 12:23 pm

Nice article from MPR on the background of this diner.
http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/03/29 ... ng-journey

talindsay
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby talindsay » April 20th, 2016, 2:53 pm

So I had breakfast at Hi-Lo with my daughter on a Thursday morning. The building is great; it appears to be restored with original vintage parts, not with new replacements. It's gorgeous, and it walks a funny line of being shiny and "new" while having the obvious patina of age. That all works really well.

The service was great, though not really diner-like - too much like a South Minneapolis restaurant. Similarly, I think they're trying too hard with their menu, especially since they're right down the block from Longfellow Grill. I think they'd fill a better niche if they let their menu focus more on simple diner fare, well done, rather than trying to compete for overly "New American" like Longfellow. They're definitely cheaper than Longfellow, but their prices were still high, especially when contrasted against Blue Door - my 11-year-old daughter and I ended up spending $25 plus tip, with her get a plate of pancakes and a glass of milk, and me getting eggs, sausage, potatoes, and toast with coffee. Mind, a mind-blowing $6 of that was our drinks - my cup of regular drip-brewed coffee was $3 and her glass of milk was also $3.

My daughter loved her pancakes. My breakfast was okay but not great: the potatoes were quite undercooked and hard, and their sausage patty ("they're great, we mix them in-house") was pretty bland, tasting more like a burger patty than a sausage patty. I asked for my eggs over easy and sometimes you get some uncooked white when you order it that way, but I was still surprised at how much uncooked white I had. The toast was great and soaked up all that egg just fine.

The coffee? Strong and flavorful. But you can't sell $3 coffee in a place that's called a diner. Literally the next day I had a breakfast at a Waffle House in Mississippi that cost $7 that was better in every way. The coffee admittedly wasn't as good, but it also cost maybe a buck.

I'll give them another go; I assume the food quality issue was because they just opened. But unless they drop their prices to at least be more in line with Blue Door (or hopefully with Waffle House!) I won't be going very often.

winterfan
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby winterfan » April 20th, 2016, 9:08 pm

talindsay wrote: The coffee? Strong and flavorful. But you can't sell $3 coffee in a place that's called a diner. Literally the next day I had a breakfast at a Waffle House in Mississippi that cost $7 that was better in every way. The coffee admittedly wasn't as good, but it also cost maybe a buck.
Thanks for the write-up. I've been curious about this place.

I've lived in the southern US and IMO, a Waffle House type establishment is sorely missing in Mpls. I dunno, maybe someone knows of a place. The Egg and I and the Uptown Diner aren't really the same. Our Kitchen sort of qualifies, but it's so small. Our family usually just goes to Curran's.

mattaudio
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby mattaudio » April 20th, 2016, 9:13 pm

Sort of like Bonnie's was in St. Paul? Yeah, Our Kitchen is great but tiny. Where are other cheap greasy spoons in the core cities?

Lou Ann's definitely fit the bill... but it was in the awkward street-level spot at 4th Ave and 6th Street in the Thrivent building, across from the Gov Center that rises above 6th, and a parking ramp. Not exactly a Let's Thrive location for a diner, and it looks like they closed.

EOst
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby EOst » April 20th, 2016, 9:39 pm

The Nicollet Diner (corner of 15th) is pretty good, closer to something like the Uptown Diner than a true greasy spoon though.

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby seanrichardryan » April 20th, 2016, 9:51 pm

I had a sub par experience at Hi-Lo. Food was just okay, and nearly cold when it arrived. No reason really to go back when I've got better options all over the neighborhood. Cute, but needs work.
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby Yourpalborno » April 21st, 2016, 7:22 am

I’ve been to Hi-Lo twice. Both times I’ve found the food to be quite good though the prices are a little on the high side, especially for the adult malts. I do have a few issues. Last Saturday they did not have their patio ready, big oops for such a nice day, and as a result the service lacked as they tried to deal with the overflow crowd. My biggest problem is that it is SO HIPSTER ORIENTED! Man buns all over the place, cocktails that do not belong in a stainless steel diner, over-the-top bartenders. I was really hoping this would be a great take on a classic diner but it’s not. It’s confused, underwhelming, and disappointing because they were so close to something great!

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Nathan
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby Nathan » April 21st, 2016, 7:40 am

Eh, I personally think there are enough classic diners around. I highly doubt anyone would pay to move a diner, remodel it into a full restaurant and then serve bacon eggs, burgers, and shakes. It seems like what your describing is exactly what I've envisioned all along. I have yet to get there, so I'll hold off on too much. The fact that your displeasure comes from it being too "hipstery" doesn't really hold any water, that just means they have their eye on the prize to me. Also, if an establishment's patio isn't open yet, still in april, THAT is not their fault. that's your fault for not calling ahead. They have no obligation to offer you patio seating. That's not a mistake that's unseasonable weather.

Silophant
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby Silophant » April 21st, 2016, 7:55 am

That seems like complaining that a steakhouse in Wyoming is a sea of cowboy hats. They just know their market.

mattaudio
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby mattaudio » April 21st, 2016, 8:15 am

Guilty. What Silophant said. I love me some greasy spoon breakfast food from time to time. But when it comes down to it, wife and I would much rather go to Tiny Diner or another "hipstery" place that... guess what... appeals to our standards, sensibilities, and relative lack of price sensitivity.

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby amiller92 » April 21st, 2016, 8:49 am

The best breakfast place is the one you can walk to (Hot Plate for us).

mattaudio
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby mattaudio » April 21st, 2016, 9:02 am

You're just as close to Colossal, possibly closer.

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 21st, 2016, 9:06 am

Our Kitchen for us (and Gigi's when it's full). Does anyone remember Polka Dot on Chicago Ave? My grandma used to take us there as kids, and I was terrified of the two old ladies who ran it.

Anyway, does anyone think this diner got way more press in local newspapers than maybe was warranted?

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby amiller92 » April 21st, 2016, 9:17 am

mattaudio wrote:You're just as close to Colossal, possibly closer.
.5 mile to Hot Plate, 1 mile to Colossal. Will have to try it though.

tab
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby tab » April 21st, 2016, 11:41 am

We enjoyed dinner there over the weekend. Our daughter was heartbroken that we didn't go to Longfellow Grill until the food came out, and then she was fine. We split one of the desert-donut-creations 4 ways, and it was still generous. Planning to return, but apparently need to up my hipster game first.

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby talindsay » April 21st, 2016, 4:43 pm

amiller92 wrote:The best breakfast place is the one you can walk to (Hot Plate for us).
Sadly, for me, this is it - which is why I had such high hopes for it being more actual diner like. We do walk to Turtle Bread sometimes but that's a hike. We used to walk to Longfellow - all the time - back when their menu was more diner-y and less extract-money-by-all-means-possible-y but I'm not paying Longfellow prices. We have walked to Birchwood but it's just a little too inconvenient from our side of the Greenway.

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby talindsay » April 21st, 2016, 4:48 pm

winterfan wrote:I've lived in the southern US and IMO, a Waffle House type establishment is sorely missing in Mpls.
Agreed! It's a downside of living north of the IHOP-Waffle House line...

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby bapster2006 » April 23rd, 2016, 9:28 pm

Had breakfast at Hi-Lo about 2pm today on the patio. I liked the place, and the food was good. The strawberry jam has big chunks in it. I'd definitely go back.

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Sacrelicio
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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby Sacrelicio » April 25th, 2016, 10:54 pm

Went there a couple weeks back and wasn't impressed. I got the Korean spare ribs donut thing and it came out cold as a rock. Sent it back and they replaced it...but they also took my silverware and didn't bring me another set, so I had to sit for several minutes and wait for the bartender to come back. He never appeared so I had to go get my own silverware from the host, and the kid didn't seem to be fazed by someone grabbing silverware as he was rolling it. That was a deal breaker for me. Pretty lax service overall, seemed like they had a bunch of college kids working who didn't really care about the customers.

I sent them an email and they apologized and offered me a gift certificate but I declined. Not the worst place on earth but with so many other options in the city I don't know why I'd go back even for a free meal.

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Re: Hi-Lo Diner (4020 Lake St E)

Postby cooperrez » April 27th, 2016, 1:25 pm

I've been to the diner a couple of times now and enjoyed it both times. A little pricier than my comfort zone. Others have mentioned the prices here as well, but I agree with Nathan's point that nobody is going to spend the kinda cash these guys did (I believe I read over 1 million) to put this diner here are just offer regular cheap diner fare. 3 large pancakes for $8.00 isn't too bad and the bourbon syrup is awesome.

This place has only been open for a month now, so any problems with service or organization during this frantic time (it has been packed every time I have passed by) should be expected. I have faith that they will correct their issues over time.

East Lake is changing. It's gentrifying. When I first saw that a new bakery (Savory Bake House) was coming to 36th St. and Lake, I had visions of picking up some cheap donuts or some fresh bread every day or so. The offerings there are, however, more sophisticated and a bit more expensive than I imagined. I believe they are doing quite well with their business and that's great! People have complained about the prices at the Longfellow Market too. Again, I think it is unrealistic to think someone will make the kind of investment like Joel Ahlstrom did with his store and keep prices rock bottom, just not gonna happen. I see the extra money I spend here and there when I frequent these local establishments as an investment in my neighborhood. That's a good thing!

I also think the news coverage of the Hi-Lo Diner was more than merited. This diner is more than just a place to shovel pancakes in your mouth and hit the road, I guess a bit ironic considering how diners were originally purposed. This is a destination IMHO. The restoration is beautiful. It really transformed this spot on Lake St. I guess some will read this as hyperbole on my part, but I see this diner as a work or art.


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