Do I love weekend breakfasts? Yes.
Huge greasy weekend late morning/early afternoon breakfasts of eggs and pancakes and bacon and toast and coffee? Yes.
Do I live in Minneapolis? Yes.
Have I lived here for twenty years? Yes.
Had I ever been to the Band Box Diner, at 729 S. Tenth St. in Minneapolis? Not until yesterday.
Here is what I ordered: a plate-size pancake with butter and syrup, a side of sausage, and two orders of American fries. I debated about a cup of coffee – I’m a single perfect cup made with boiling water hand-poured through a filter at dawn type, so there is little worse in my personal culinary world than nasty coffee that’s been burning for hours on a hot plate, but I threw caution to the winds and ordered a cup.
Tasty! As was the pancake!
The American fries.
I’ve never had anything like them. They took a long time to get to the table, but in my experience, perfection often does take a long time. These American fries were soft, melt-in-the-mouth soft, with equally soft onions, grilled together with the potatoes just long enough so that crisp bits mixed in with the overall melting softness.
As I ate, the cook stood by the grill peeling already-boiled red potatoes and then, as he held each one in his hand, slicing it tenderly in cross-hatched rows until a pile of pieces fell into a waiting bowl. The waitress, with her many lovely tattoos and piled tangle of black hair, greeted an old, mute, toothless woman by name – “Hello, Monica, do you want the usual?” and set a can of Sprite and a hamburger down before her.
The counter stools are red. They twirl. The tables are red. The windows are large. The place is tiny. My friend and I ate everything on all four of our plates. “I’m surprised you can even move, after all that food,” said the waitress.
The Band Box is my new favorite diner in Minneapolis. It’s a one of a kind, the antithesis of a chain restaurant. Wherever you live, tell me about your own one-of-a-kind diner, will you? I’d like to visit it someday.