Breakfast becomes a passionate subject for many people. And for good reason.
For starters, it’s the most meaningful meal of the day. You need fuel to be productive.
It’s food people love, too: omelets, pancakes, French toast, hash browns.
Sitting down for breakfast is also the chance to connect with the people who mean a lot to you. Time and time again you hear about the senior mens’ groups who have coffee and chat about current events and what’s going on in their neighborhood. I’m guessing many of you reading this have a breakfast tradition you remember from when you were a kid, whether it be at home or at a restaurant on a weekend morning. Breakfast is more than food. It nourishes the soul.
I asked my Facebook fans, along with Twin Cities Live viewers, to tell me their favorite spot to get breakfast in Minnesota. Hundreds of entries came in. I visited the top five restaurants to meet with the owners and learn what you should order when you stop by.
I appeared on Twin Cities Live to share the top five spots:
1. Lindas’ Cafe
13575 Northdale Blvd, Suite 200
Linda Frigaard and Linda Grady have been friends since third grade. A divorce kickstarted Linda Grady to call Linda Frigaard, who worked in the restaurant industry, to help her achieve a dream: to open a restaurant.
- The two opened Lindas’ Cafe on August 1st, 2006 in a strip mall off of I-94 in Rogers. The space used to be a video store.
- You will find four generations working at Lindas’ Cafe. Linda Frigaard’s father is there, along with her daughter and grandchild.
- Their skillets are the number one menu item. The Ranch Skillet, with eggs, green peppers, onion, cheese and meat, along with the Log Cabin Skillet, smothered in sausage country gravy and a country fried steak, are the most popular.
- The Lindas tell me they’ll go through nearly 225,000 eggs a year. If you’re a fan of wild rice soup, get the Minnesota omelet — it has the soup inside.
- The pancake is worth ordering. The recipe belongs to the cook’s great great grandmother. The owners mentioned that customers drove from Edina to Rogers to get their pancakes. That’s nearly 60 miles roundtrip.
- You don’t want to miss the Lindas’ Stuffed. I’m calling it a homemade take on the McDonald’s McGriddle. It’s two slices of French toast stuffed with Swiss cheese with your choice of ham or sausage. Pour some syrup on it and you got yourself a quality, homemade McGriddle without the guilt.
- Lindas’ Cafe is not big — it’s only 88 seats. Make sure your whole party is there if you want to get seated.
- Their entire menu, which does include broasted chicken and other lunch items, is available for take out.
3 metro locations, including the location I attended:
2700 39th Avenue NE, Saint Anthony Village 55421
Jeff Nat, whose nickname was Fat Nat while playing hockey, started Fat Nat’s Eggs in 2002.
- Jeff, who loves to cook, wanted to run restaurant like his grandma’s house with quality ingredients.
- The original location in New Hope had 35 seats when it first opened. Today, it has more than 100. It previously was a Chinese restaurant.
- Fans of my Facebook page say the New Hope location is best, although the menu is consistent at all three restaurants.
- They expanded to Brooklyn Park in 2007 and opened a Saint Anthony Village restaurant in 2012. Jeff’s wife, Lisa, tells me another location could be in the cards.
- Fat Nat’s Eggs is a family affair. Jeff, Lisa, and their sons, Michael and David, run the restaurants.
- The number one selling menu item is the Eggs Bacon Avocado Benedict, served on a toasted English muffin with a slice of tomato, bacon and an (AMAZING) spicy avocado verde. If you like spicy, you must order something with the avocado verde.
- All of the salsas Fat Nat’s Eggs serves are made in-house. They have green chili, which you will find in New Mexico cuisine.
- If you’re looking for an omelet, the owners say a hidden gem is the Jacob’s Omelette with carnitas, black beans, salsa verde, pepper jack cheese and homemade salsa on top.
- Don’t pass up on the warm fruit fritter, which are made by Denny’s 5th Avenue Bakery in Bloomington.
- Fat Nat’s Eggs has counter seating at all three locations.
- It gets busy, especially on the weekends. Owner Lisa says for the shortest wait time, come before 9:00 am or after 12:30 pm.
4 metro locations, including the location I attended:
1661 County Road B2 West, Roseville 55113
- I need to be honest: before my first trip to The Original Pancake House, I wasn’t thrilled about eating there, mostly because it’s a chain. But after learning their story, it’s definitely worthy of this list.
- The four Minnesota locations are franchisees of the national The Original Pancake House brand. The locations in Edina, Eden Prairie, Roseville and Burnsville have the same owner, however, each location has a totally different look and each location has a different menu.
- The Edina location is the original in the Twin Cities, opening in 1977. They started by serving pancakes in the morning, closing for a couple hours, then serving pizza for dinner. You won’t be able to miss the huge chandelier inside.
- Eden Prairie opened in 2007 with a traditional restaurant vibe.
- Roseville opened in 2013 and is very contemporary, having gone through a remodel in 2018.
- The newest location in Burnsville has a Scandinavian feel.
- None of their kitchen have microwaves.
- Their most popular item is the 49er Flapjack, a thin pancake. The Potato Pancake and Buckwheat Pancakes are top-sellers, too.
- A hidden gem are the Breakfast Ribs, which is like thick cut bacon.
- On a busy day, one location will serve up 1,400 orders of bacon.
- The hash browns at OPH are epic.
- I heard this from multiple people: The Original Pancake House does an extremely good job accommodating those with food allergies. Gluten-free food comes out on yellow plates and there’s no extra charge. Our gluten-full table tried a gluten-free peach crepe, and it was really good. They also can accommodate those who are dairy-free and who have soy or egg allergies.
- The coffee mugs are made by a potter from Saint Paul. Some of the other OPH locations from around the nation have started to use her mugs as well. You are able to purchase them, too.
2145 Highway Avenue, Mounds View 55112
R.J. Riches Family Restaurant in Mounds View originally was a Country Kitchen back in the 1970s. The owners who took over that space were named Royce and Janice (RJ) and they wanted to make ‘Riches’ — hence the name R.J. Riches. The current owners have operated the restaurant since 1992.
- You need to watch other people’s food come out before you place your order. Food comes in HUGE portions. The chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes are not only the size of dinner plates, they’re also extremely thick. Think of it more like a cake than a pancake. You don’t need more than one for your table.
- The number one menu item is the Country Fried Steak, which was really good. A thick gravy didn’t sit too heavy.
- The second most popular menu item is my favorite. The Gyro Omelet was epic. First, it’s huge — it could be two, maybe three meals. It’s four eggs, with hash browns, cheese, and gyro meat inside. It’s served with Tzatziki sauce, too.
- Owner Barb tells me that a lot of people overpass their Spicy Chicken Omelet, which has deep-fried, spicy chicken.
- The restaurant isn’t huge, with only 120 seats. On a busy weekend day, you may have to wait 45 to 60 minutes to get a table. They’re the busiest between 8:30 am – 1:00 pm.
- In addition to breakfast, R.J. Riches is open for dinner, serving all-you-can-eat meals.
- Note that R.J. Riches is not set up for large parties. I would recommend that you keep your group to four or less (or be willing to split yourselves up). Most of the restaurant is booths.
9 metro locations, including the original restaurant in Saint Paul:
767 Raymond Avenue, Saint Paul 55114
The first Keys Restaurant opened on Raymond Avenue in Saint Paul on November 1st, 1973 by Barbara Hunn. She took over a space called Mister D’s. Before that, it was called Slater’s.
- Barbara had no restaurant management experience at the time. In fact, she was a licensed psychiatric nurse.
- Barb and her late husband had four kids, all who would work in the restaurant. As kids, they would make hamburger buns.
- About nine years in, they added a location in New Brighton. That’s when Keys started to sell more baked goods, which they’re known for today.
- Today, Keys has nine locations around the Twin Cities. At one point, all 17 of Barbara’s grandchildren have worked at Keys.
Keys is known for large portions. The Beef Hash and Cajun Skillet are popular menu items and will fill you up.
- Thick cut bacon is key at Keys. One pound is 13 slices. So if you eat 3 slices, you’ve eaten about a quarter of a pound of bacon.
- The Cinnamon and Pecan Rolls are amazing. Their number one baked good is the house chocolate cake.
- Make sure to order toast and get their house-made strawberry rhubarb jam. I would drink it if it was socially acceptable.
- Barb says that their oatmeal is an unsung hero on the menu at the Raymond Avenue Keys. It’s not instant. Make sure to add fruit and nuts.
- All of Keys soups are made in house. Barb says to try the Tomato Basil, Chicken Noodle and Tomato Bisque.
- You’ll still see Barbara at the Raymond Avenue Keys three days a week.
- The catchphrase “Yummy!” that Keys uses in their radio commercials was inspired by Jim Carrey’s character in the 1994 movie, “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”.
Did you conquer those breakfast spots that are Worth the Trip? Try these honorable mentions
6. Frieda’s Cafe, Willmar (warning: closed Sundays)
7. B&B Cafe, Albert Lea (warning: closed Sundays)
8. Oasis Cafe, Stillwater
9. Jensen’s Cafe, Burnsville
10. Carol’s Restaurant, Blaine
11. Al’s Breakfast, Minneapolis
12. Peg’s Countryside Cafe, Hamel
13. North Pole Restaurant, Newport
14. Windmill Cafe, Savage
15. Duluth Grill, Duluth
16. The Buttered Tin, Saint Paul
17. Hazel’s Northeast, Minneapolis
Check out my other roundups of what’s ‘Worth the Trip’
- 5 best places to play bingo in Minnesota
- The 5 best meat raffles in Minnesota
- The 5 best restaurants for fried fish in Minnesota
- Hidden gems at the 5 best museums in Minnesota
- 20 Mexican restaurants in Minnesota worth the trip
- The best ice cream shops in Minnesota
- The best restaurant, brewery and winery patios in Minnesota
- The 5 best bakeries in Minnesota
- The 5 best holiday light displays in Minnesota