If you have happy college memories of waiting for an hour for a stool at Al's Breakfast, but never seem to have time to revisit the experience, rejoice: Now you can wait for an hour in the evening.
Yes, Al's Breakfast is serving Al's supper: Friday and Saturday nights, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Same menu — who'd go there for anything else? — but they also are serving hot dogs.
"Some are plain and some are fancy," said co-owner Alison Kirwin. "One's called El Perro, which has hash browns, salsa and Cheddar cheese like our most popular dish: the Jose."
A unique Al's take on a venerable classic, as a hack food critic might say. Anyone else might say, "Two, please."
Al's veteran Kirwin, who joined Doug Grina late last year as a co-owner, began offering dinner and late-night munchies this month. The 67-year-old breakfast hot spot would previously close around 1 p.m. daily.
Old-time Dinkytown residents might cluck in disapproval — why, in my day, Al's didn't cater to people who couldn't get there in time, and we certainly didn't think they ought to be up all night handing out wieners to inebriates.
But Dinkytown has changed. Huge new apartment buildings provide a critical mass of late-night diners, so why not wrap the breakfast basics in a tortilla and call it an Al-urrito?
Yes, that's the name, perhaps chosen because it's pre-slurred for your convenience.
In the old days you knew you were a true Dinkytown resident when you had your name on a book on the shelf — prepaid tickets that meant you always had a breakfast in the bank in case your pockets were empty.
You were perfectly content to eat with someone else's elbows in your side and someone 6 inches behind you, waiting for your stool. In the winter it was rather … close, the aroma of the grill mingling with the smell of damp coats and last night's cigarettes.
But there was no place else like it, and it made Dinkytown unique.
In a concession to our fast-paced, can't-wait times, there is now a walk-up window that takes your order. You won't have to wait for a stool. Some will say this isn't the spirit of Al's. Good things, including buckwheat cakes, come to those who wait, and glare at the guy who's obviously finished and is just reading the paper now. C'mon, man.
But you can still wait if you like. Maybe they'll let you slide down to the sidewalk and nap. First in line for Sunday morn!