If you’ve driven past the popular Golden Valley breakfast spot Good Day Cafe recently, you might have noticed an addition to its illuminated sign: the words “Bad Day Bar” below the logo. The addition of a full bar to the restaurant’s main dining room signals the beginning of dinner service, but the drinks aren’t the real reason to stop by after work. The wide-ranging menu of comfort food — a step up in quality from your traditional diner — should be the main draw.
Vegetarians, consider yourselves warned: The menu offers limited options beyond a veggie sandwich and a few salads. But if you eat meat, you’ll find that the blue plates, burgers, and sandwiches cover the gamut from beef stroganoff and pork chops to Reubens, Rachels, and hot dogs. And for the most part, the meals deliver. A turkey pot pie ($11.25) blends hearty chunks of meat with tender vegetables in a creamy sauce that slowly leaks out the bottom of its pastry crust. Though its size didn’t seem intimidating, a half-portion was more than enough to fill the stomach. The Reuben ($11), made with Kobe corned beef, proved to be a worthy tweak to the traditional sandwich by appearing on a rye pretzel roll instead of bread and with its horseradish-spiked dressing on the side. The rotisserie chicken ($13.50) featured a deliciously spicy crust, but the meat underneath was a tad dry. The kicky cole slaw and crisp fries saved the plate from being a lost cause, however.
Regardless of what you order for your entree, be sure to start your meal with a basket of warm popovers ($4.25) served with pistachio butter and homemade strawberry jam. The feathery light rolls could be in contention for the best bread basket in town. Other appetizers are fine options, too, such as the expertly battered onion rings ($5.25) and spicy black bean fritters ($4.50), but it’s hard to argue with steaming hot popovers.
The biggest revelation about dinner at Good Day Cafe isn’t the menu, however — it’s the peaceful atmosphere. Anyone who’s ever been to the restaurant for weekend brunch or weekday lunch is familiar with long wait times and a noisy dining room. Dinner service is almost serene by comparison, with maybe 10 tables full of mostly adults seeking a glass of wine, good food, and quiet conversation. Perhaps most fans aren’t aware of the new dinner hours (4-8:30pm daily, though the kitchen may shut down early or stay open later, depending on traffic) or they get their fill in the daylight hours. But since you’ll find a few breakfast favorites on the dinner menu, too, the evening may be the best time to get cozy in a booth — regardless if it’s been a good day or bad.
BEST BET: The warm, jam-accompanied popovers.
Good Day Cafe
Diner / cafe in Golden Valley
5410 Wayzata Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55416
OWNER: David Webb
Mon-Sat 6:30-11am (breakfast), 11am-3pm (lunch), 4-8:30pm (dinner)
Sun 6:30am-3pm (breakfast), 4-8:30pm (dinner)
RESERVATIONS: No, but guests can call ahead before arriving to get on the waiting list
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes, though limited at dinner / No
ENTREE RANGE: $9-18 for dinner