big al’s diner

The weekend is all about family time for us and soaking up as much of our daughter as we can since we both work during the week. One of our rituals is breakfast. We’re fairly predictable with where you can find us, usually Yours Truly in the Falls, Lucky’s Cafe or Vine & Bean. The latter two are hands-down my favorite places for breakfast (pecan-crusted bacon, anyone?); the first is more about convenience. But I was giddy to break away from the norm to try Big Al’s, which I was assigned to review for Metromix.

Like always, here’s part of the review or you can read the full review here. In short, the well-loved diner won’t be making the roation anytime soon. It wasn’t so much that the food was bad (though I wasn’t wowed), or the setting (I love dives like this and appreciate its genuine diner charm), but mostly because the atmosphere is not conducive to a relaxing weekend brunch with the family. Aside from the food, I like lounging with Jamie and Natalie during breakfast and don’t like to feel rushed – I get enough of that during the week.  At Big Al’s, people are hurdled together stalking patrons for a table, and then when you finally snag a seat, it’s the next group’s turn to hunch over you. In fact, it took us three attempts to finally eat there. Standing in the doorway with a toddler is simply no fun. The best part about our breakfast was walking down to Vine & Bean after for a mama’s skinny mocha and cappuccino.

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For the past 15 years, Big Al’s Diner has been a local hot spot, and thanks to one Iron Chef, it has even earned a few minutes in the national spotlight.

Food: Every good diner is known for something. While Big Al’s menu covers everything you’d expect from a neighborhood eatery including sandwiches, burgers and a handful of dinner items, it’s the breakfast that makes people regulars.

Breakfast, which is served all day, features 17 combinations ranging from $5.50 to $11.50, 10 different omelets (we tried the three cheese with homefries and toast for $6.75), sandwiches (try the ham, egg and cheese on an English muffin for $4.50) to the classic carb trio: pancakes, waffles and French toast. Almost all items are made from scratch and portions are generous—almost too big.

If you want to eat like Iron Chef Michael Symon, try the corned beef and hash, make sure to read this article about how to prepare Corned Beef and Cabbage Done Right. This was the dish featured on The Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Symon also is a fan of the biscuits and gravy and pancakes.

While we didn’t sample what the chef did (though we trust his palate), we’d also like to add the home fries with caramelized onions among some of the best breakfast fare we’ve had in town.

Décor: This diner probably hasn’t changed since the day it opened, and we suspect some items are still around from the previous tenant (Chuck’s Diner). It’s your typical neighborhood, down-and-dirty diner with friendly service and lots of familiar faces. 

Bottom line: If you’re a fan of breakfast, this traditional greasy spoon is worth checking out. You never know who you may see; plus it’s your chance to try a nationally-recognized dish for less than $10.

2 Comments

  1. Posted April 27, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    We used to love this place when we lived on the east side. I miss it!

  2. christine louise
    Posted April 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Carry-out is always an option @ Big Al’s.