It’s 11:30am and Milda’s is nearly full. Waitresses are buzzing about, topping off coffee, dropping plates, and bantering with locals. One of the two owners is going table to table, welcoming regulars and meeting newcomers. The clientele is noticeably mixed: casually dressed couples, men in suits, friends celebrating a birthday (four staffers sing “Happy Birthday”). Milda’s is a diner in the best sense of the word: casual, friendly, predictable, homey. The decor and food are familiar — you’ve been here, even if you haven’t actually been to Milda’s.
Open weekdays from 6am until 3pm, Milda’s features classic breakfast items, hearty Midwestern classics, typical diner sandwiches, and Broaster Chicken. The restaurant’s signature dish is the beef pasty, which is available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (Milda’s sells frozen pasties all week: “Buy four, get one free!) Imported from across the pond, and known for the dedicated love of Michiganders, a pasty is essentially dense pie dough filled with meat and veggies (think of a hand-held pot pie or giant empanada, and it is pronounced “paaah-stee”).
Baked to a golden brown, Milda’s version warms the body and soothes the soul. The flaky, slightly salty crust wraps a savory filling of ground beef, potatoes, onions, and carrots. (We’ve heard good things about a vegetarian pasty that Milda’s used to offer. Although no longer on the menu, the veggie version is available by special order.) While the concoction is (by design) a tad dry, a small side of brown gravy sauces it up. The pasty sticks to the ribs and absolutely fits the bill during frigid winter months. We strongly recommend going all out and chasing the pasty with one of Milda’s large, gooey cinnamon or caramel rolls.
It’s probably a cliche to refer to long-standing restaurants as “institutions,” but the title fits at Milda’s: It’s been serving soothing, satisfying food since 1965. The owners, Tom and Jane Eisenschenk (Jane’s the daughter of the eponymous Milda), learned the true importance of their restaurant when they lost their lease in the late 1990s. Fearing Milda’s would fold or re-locate, regulars rallied support and a neighborhood church bought a nearby building to house the diner. Thirteen years later, Milda’s maintains its loyal following and remains a cornerstone — yes, an institution — of the Harrison neighborhood in Near North, Minneapolis.
Diner in Near North, Minneapolis
1720 Glenwood Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55405
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
OWNERS: Jane and Tom Eisenschenk
ENTREE RANGE: $2.75-$11.95