What does fried dough, a mobile diner car, and Lake Street have in common?…you guessed it, Hi-Lo Diner, the newest addition to great eats on Lake Street. But this is not your everyday restaurant; this place had a history, long before it was dropped into the old Taco Bell space on Lake Street. So, how does an old diner named Venus, from Gibsonia Pennsylvania, end up in Minneapolis? Well, Mike Smith and James Brown of Brownsmith and Forage dreamt up the idea of a traditional neighborhood diner coming to Minneapolis after getting sick of staring at the vacant lot across the street from them on the corner of Lake and 41st Ave. They teamed up with Jeremy Woerner and Pat McDonough from Blue Door Pub, and set out to make an approachable, family friendly, traditional diner experience in south Minneapolis. Hi-Lo Diner rounds out the unique dining experience with executive chef Heidi Marsh curating scratch traditional diner food, a yummy list of unique cocktails via Dan Oskey of Tattersall Distillery, and “HI-TOPS”, which are made-to-order fried dough with filling and toppings, both sweet and savory.
Once you step inside this 1957 Classic Fodero dining car, you are quickly transported back in time. The diner was transported here in pieces on two trucks. From there, Brownsmith Restoration lovingly and painstakingly restored it to its original glory. You truly feel that you went back in time to the 1950’s, as every vintage detail is in tact, with some additions being the kitchen, liquor rails, taps and a patio. The history is apparent as staff will point out the place on the center of the floor where the car was meant to literally come apart to move it where the business was back in its hay day.
Fast-forward to today and you will notice that Hi-Lo is packed with customers during their open hours. The concept is open early and stay open late, with 6:30a opening daily, closing at midnight Sunday through Thursday, and closing at 2am Friday and Saturdays. So, there is plenty of time in the day to get over there for a quick cup of coffee or craft cocktail and a “Hi-Top” I personally recommend the “Maine Squeeze”, which is fried dough covered in lobster with a citrus glaze, avocado, sriracha aioli, and micro arugula. Another excellent choice is the “Gary Coop’er, which is topped with buttermilk fried chicken, maple bourbon syrup, country gravy and arugula.
And the best part is that you can head to Hi-Lo just as you are, no dressing up needed. The team at Hi-Lo is striving for a traditional approachable experience for Lake Street and Minneapolis, complete with great food and cocktails. Stop through for breakfast in the morning and dinner with the family in the evening….but do yourself a favor, and eat one of their delicious “Hi Tops”, you wont be disappointed!
Rebekah Cook of Hi-Lo Diner was interviewed for this article.