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Seven Things to Know About the Hi-Lo Diner, Now Open

Longfellow's hotly anticipated beacon of a bygone era opened at 6:30 a.m. this morning.

Hi-Lo Diner is ready and waiting for you.
Hi-Lo Diner is ready and waiting for you.
Amber Procaccini
1. A nod to the Bell.

The meticulously restored diner car has been restored as much as possible to its original glory, but sadly a few pieces didn't quite make it. For one, the booths used to sport their own jukeboxes and sadly, they couldn't saved. Nor could the old cigarette machine that stood guard by the front door. However, one bit of history from the other restaurant involved in this site did remain. The back part of the diner, the kitchen used to be a Taco Bell. It's already difficult to remember what this spot used to look like, but one thing did remain: there are a couple of chairs from Taco Bell that somehow fit seamlessly into the dining room. See if you can spot them.

2. A Silo is a sandwich.

The menu delivers exactly what you'd expect from a diner: pancakes, meatloaf, pie and more. The Silos (sandwich + Hi-Lo) are bread that's been hollowed out and stuffed with sandwich stuff. It's like a bread bowl, but for meats and cheeses. There's a pastrami Silo with Swiss cheese and Russian dressed slaw, a Rachel and a ham and cheese.

3. Two words for the fry fiends:

Krinkle cuts. And one more: frickles (deep fried pickles for the uninitiated.)

4. Not-your-grandpa's grasshopper.

Ryan Barott's bar list draws on nostalgic drinks mostly from the 50's and 60's. There's a Rusty Nail, Harvey Wallbanger, Grasshopper and a Cosmo (because, why not?) The difference is the caliber of ingredients. The bartender swears the cocktails never edge over into sickly sweet, even the adult milkshakes. Dan Oskey contributed to the carefully listed selection. The Hi-Lo takes advantage of Sebastian Joe's ice cream for all the milkshakes, included the kid-friendly sort. There is also beer, wine and hard ciders available.

5. A Hi-Top is not a doughnut.

For one, there is no hole. Mostly, the dough is a special breed all its own. It's yeasty and a little dense: more like the unholy love child of brioche and fry bread. Hi-Tops are either stuffed or topped with items like fried chicken, maple-bourbon syrup, gravy and micro arugula (The Gary Coop-er) or a simple Berry Gibsonia topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Priced in the $10 range, each is fried-to-order.

6. Outdoor seating is on the way.

The patio isn't quite ready for prime time, but soon there will be a tiki-themed outdoor space will expand seating during the summer months.

7. Late night eats.

The neon sign will be on at 6:30 am every day and the diner will be serving food all day and into the night. Depending on demand, the diner could be open until late night, like 2 a.m. So, night owls can flock to the East Lake Street spot if hunting for pancakes before bedtime.

Hi-Lo Diner
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Hi-Lo Diner

4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406 (612) 353-6568