Hot Plate, a below-the-radar diner in South Minneapolis, is different, singular, unique, one-of-a-kind, funky… anything but normal. When you enter, a buck-toothed mannequin dressed in Hot Plate swag and red Chuck Taylors blankly leers in your general direction. Innumerable paint-by-numbers portraits crowd the walls and creepy-but-endearing statuettes line the railings, fill shelves, and sit on the tables. And then there are the Lucite grapes and mod fixtures. If not so playful and carefully curated — and if it wasn’t accompanied by really good food — the concentration of kitsch might be too much.
So it’s a joy that, where typical “greasy spoons” try to disguise bad food with pounds of butter and oil, Hot Plate puts out high-quality, inventive fare that doesn’t send you right back to bed. The bacon is lean, thick, and toothsome, and the crispy, well-seasoned potatoes far surpass the typically bland, mushy “home fries.” The omelets (below) are large, fluffy, and chock-full of first-rate fillings; the scrambles are equally great. Even Hot Plate’s plain oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar ($5.25) is solid, though we strongly recommend ordering a side of nuts to enhance the cereal’s texture and flavor.
Hot Plate’s sweet breakfast dishes further separate it from the diner crowd. The buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pecans ($6 for a short stack) are awesome — relatively thin, but pillowy. The pecans (mixed into the batter) give the cakes a subtle crunch and, with syrup, just the right amount of sweetness (if ordering again, we’d skip the Lingonberry butter — it’s just one too many sweet components). The scrumptious pumpkin buckwheat waffle ($8.25, pictured top) and caramel apple French toast ($8, below) skillfully straddle the line between breakfast and dessert, and both are impressively moist on the inside and crisp on the outside.
Unfortunately, Hot Plate’s coffee (drip and espresso) doesn’t do the food justice: It’s watery and bitter. But don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this good-spirited spot. On our first visit, we had lattes in hand when we arrived and were graciously told to keep on sipping. That kind of good morning from a kind and attentive staff, along with Hot Plate’s quick service, delicious food, and crazy tchotchkes, can’t help but start the day right.
Hot Plate Diner
Diner in South Minneapolis
5204 Bloomington Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55417
OWNERS: Sam Beberg and Carrie Lewis
HOURS: 8am-2pm daily
ENTREE RANGE: $5-10.50
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / By order