Hard Times Cafe

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 39 reviews )
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612-341-9261
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1821 Riverside Ave (at Cedar Ave, Twin Cities), Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 55454

Minneapolis vegetarian cafe with an extensive menu that includes vegan pancake, stir fry with choice of tempeh, tofu, or seitan, and greasy spoon style dishes like breakfast eggs, toast, and hash brown. Strong organic coffee. Open Mon-Sun 12:00am-4:00am, Mon-Sun 6:00am-12:00am.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo

Reviews (39)

First Review by condekedar

Community Staple, But... - Edit

Is Hard Times a community staple? Yes. Do they have a large menu with many vegan options? Yes. Are they one of the few totally vegetarian places in the TC? Yes. However, the food has never been good. It tends to be too simple, unseasoned, and not fresh. The coffee is bland. The portions are large and the prices are reasonable, so if all you're looking to do is sit down and have a vegetarian or vegan meal, Hard Times is fine. But the quality in my opinion is not good.
I will say it's a good spot to hang out, it's open late, and has a certain vibe which many people like.

Pros: Cheap, All vegan and vegetarian, Large menu

Cons: Poor food, Not friendly service, Sketchy crowd

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Great desserts! - Edit

They have they best vegan desserts here, and reasonably priced. When I go, I usually get a bag of desserts to go! Their other food is good too, the Bahn Mi and vegan gyro are my favorites. Not typical Minnesotan atmosphere, just straightforward, culturally and economically diverse. Love it!

Pros: Lots of vegan choices, Good.food, Hours

Cons: Music

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Great food, open 22/7 - Edit

Love to support Minneapolis' employee-owned, local, all vegetarian staple.
Love the banh mi! Huge breakfast menu! Large portions. Cash-only. Yummy bakery items. Clean but on the grungey side.

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excellent Banh mi - Edit

We love this place! Everything we've had is really good especially the bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwich).

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Hangover Heaven - Edit

I was skeptical at first and confused with the ordering process, but the food was awesome. After visiting a few bars the night before, this was exactly the breakfast needed to recover. Huge helpings, delicious, greasy, well-seasoned vegan breakfast. Loved it.

Pros: Comfort Food, Vegan Breakfast, Well-Seasoned Tofu Scramble

Cons: Write your own tickets

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Great Options - Edit

Stylish place to eat.

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If you need early-morning beans, here it is - Edit

Lots and lots and lots of beans. I could not finish the whole plate. I liked the large selection and the prices, but wasn't crazy about the room-temperature water I got with my meal. Great hours.

Why so many beans?

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Vegan

  Contributions +116

Good Times at Hard Times - Edit

We enjoyed our experience at Hard Times Cafe. The food was great and affordable with many options to choose from including all day breakfast. There was also a variety of vegan baked goods and a wide range of sodas and warm drinks. It was kind of loud but the staff was friendly and they had board games!

Pros: many vegan options, great baked goods, unique atmosphere

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rice and bean realness - Edit

Ordered a tempeh lettuce tomato sandwich with red bean chili for 9.25. The Sammy was really good, and the soup was on point and spicy. Everything was well seasoned. Couldn't finish it. My friend got a plate of rice and beans which was only $3 and was about 10 inches wide. Three times as many rice and beans and she could eat. So worth the price.

Pros: open til early am , has wheelchair access ramp , is near many Pokemon go pokestops

Cons: rice and beans had zero seasoning, but for $3 who

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Good value. Big menu. Quality depends on who is cooking. - Edit

Update in June 2016: The staff behind the counter told me that they are no longer using honey in any items marked "vegan," including their bread and buns. They have not updated the menu to reflect this (the first page of the menu still has the bizarre statement that items marked vegan might include honey), however, and two of the guys didn't even realize what was written in the menu, so it's unclear whether this is a deliberate change in policy or just happened to be the case today, so vegans are advised to ask about honey just to be sure (until they update the statement on the first page of the menu).

Original review, from 16 Oct 2012:

First off, vegans beware that Hard Times, for some strange reason, takes the liberty of redefining the word "vegan" to mean simply "no meat, eggs, or dairy." Apparently they don't realize that "vegan," by definition, means no animal products whatsoever, because they state on their menu that some of their items marked "vegan" include honey. So be careful.

That said, the food is tasty. Much of what's on offer is comfort food, but they also have some more salubrious selections. There are several vegan desserts.

Service varies depending on who you happen to get standing in front of you, ranging from really extra-good to pretty apathetic.

The location is very convenient to the Minneapolis campus of UM.

If they were to fix the erroneous "vegan" definition, clean the bathroom, and keep the tables wiped, i'd give them 4 cows.

As for the loo, well, i think "punk rock gas station" is a fair description.

Pros: Very affordable, extensive menu, delicious (depending on who is cooking)

Cons: Menu says some items marked "vegan" contain honey, quality of preparation varies a lot depending on w

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Crunchy dive deliciousness with patience and cash - Edit

You might not want to go here if you've never been here before because it's sort of a dive and has an energy that says: only those who know, will dine here. What's there to know? How to order, how to be patient and how payment is cash only.

After that, if you can find a menu... You're golden. The food here has maybe 5 healthful options!? The rest is comfort diner style college kid feed me I am mad hungry portions of food. Check your nutrition goals at the door and you're good.

Most people come for a beverage and pastry/ cookie/ muffin... But with crazy hours and an extensive menu... While there, you may order up some huevos rancheros or tofu scramble or hash browns or something else you didn't know you wanted until you say the orders other diners hauled to their tables after their names were beckoned.

Food is simple but fresh and good, satisfying and tasty. Bring cash. It would be a shame to miss out on something that peaks your tastebuds' interests!

Pros: Hours and prices and portions , Vegan friendly, Vegan baked goods

Cons: Divey , Cash only

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yum yum yum! - Edit

Love this place and the vibes and the prices and the food is great! I had a vegan seitan philly cheese steak and an iced chai latte with soymilk :) Free wifi!

Pros: free wifi, sweet culture, delicious cheap food

Cons: wish parking was easier/cheaper

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Phenomenal! - Edit

Excellent vegan and vegetarian choices. Breakfast served all day. Amazing espresso drinks and tea varieties. Hip interior. Cheap street parking in front. Highly recommend!!

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Super cool - Edit

Hardtimes has a expansive menu of vegan items ranging from breakfast to desert. It's hard to complain with prices this low and food this good.

Pros: Cool staff, Great food, Home to memories

Cons: one jerky server I've met

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Hard Times Cafe Best for Vegan Comfort Food! - Edit

The best place for vegan comfort food. Prices are amazing, staff very supportive of vegans; bakery even offers great vegan muffins, cupcakes & cookies . Great, friendly casual atmosphere. Very generous portion sizes. Very convenient also, closed only 4-6 am every day. Down side: cash only.

Pros: Great food veg/vegan., Very inexpensive., Large portions.

Cons: Cash only.

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yum! - Edit

Cheap veg/vegan diner food. What more could you want! Biscuits and gravy are my jaaaaaam. Cash only.

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eh. - Edit

So this place had pretty good food, I will admit. However, due to its atmosphere I probably won't be going back.

Pros: good food

Cons: creepy atmosphere

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Awesome Bakery Case - Edit

At first I was turned off by the looks of the place, and then I tasted the food. Awesome. One of my favorite vegan places in Minneapolis. I am in love with the vegan rancheros and the bakery case. The gyro, biscuits, and others are good but those are my faves. Walk in, write your order on the ticket, pay cash only, and get a vegan cupcake while you wait. Day old muffins are usually $1 and huge. I can always count on hard times for cheap, tasty vegan muffins and cupcakes.

I added pictures for all six pages of their menu since they don't have a website.

Pros: Cheap, Tasty, Hours

Cons: Cash Only, No website

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ugh. - Edit

Terrible atmosphere. Very unfriendly staff. Blaring obnoxious heavy metal music.

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Greasy spoon with metal soundtrack - Edit

This place is great. Punk. Rock.

There's a sign on the door letting you know they have a puncture repair kit in case you've got a flat tyre on your bike.

And they played the whole of Iron Maiden's 'Somewhere In Time' album while i was in there. So for music, and pleasant regression to teenage metal days, five stars.

As for the food, I had the seitan fajita's and a side salad. The portions were large and the prices were cheap.

Awesome place!

Pros: Music, inexpensive, vegan friendly

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Deliciousness at a Reasonable Price - Edit

Super cheap with delicious vegan options and options for non-vegans. I had the vegan pancake which was the size of my plate and super thick. The vegan pancake with organic maple syrup and a cup of coffee came to a total under $6, and man was it filling!

Even though some may see the interior of Hard Times Cafe as dirty, I see it as original, down-to-earth, and as if you are just at a friend's house. It is simple and the food makes up for any "eyesores" you personally encounter.

This will definitely be a regular restaurant for me from now on!

Pros: vegan options, prices, pancakes

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delicious, affordable, funky, real! - Edit

Hard Times is just awesome - period. Came twice in two days, and if i lived in MPLS, I'd be here at least a couple times a week.

I had a wonderful bahn mi sandwich with house-made seitan, and the vegan biscuits and gravy breakfast with hash browns and tofu. All wonderful. The breakfast plate (image uploaded!) is a massive asking of food for $7.50.

As for the people complaining about the bathrooms, they really should travel more. And maybe try leaving the suburban areas of the United States. Punk rock gas station is about right - tons of graffiti and about a hundred layers of paint, but it was fine - the toilet was as clean as a lot of people's homes (be honest -.when was the last time YOU scrubbed your toilet?) and it had soap, running water, and paper towels. What are you doing in there that you need it cleaner? (waaaaait - pretend i didn't ask that, i don't want to know.)

Pros: delicious food, huge portions, super vegan friendly

Cons: no web presence

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Easy-going at Hard Times - Edit

I first visited the Hard Times Cafe in June 2012. I went with three friends, making us a party of three vegetarians and one vegan at the time. My friends were experienced with the restaurant, and helped me order.

The first thing to know about eating at Hard Times is that it's cash-only. There are a few ATMs nearby, so don't worry if you forget to bring cash. The second thing is that you write your own order. Take a menu and a piece of paper and pen, and have a seat. You write down what you want, with any modifications, the price as listed in the menu, and your name. Give it to the cashier, order your beverage (I highly recommend the lemonade!), and pay.

The cook calls your name when your order is up, and when I picked up my first-ever plate there, I was impressed. I tried the falafel platter for $6, and it really was a platter. It had enough food for two very hungry people, or three "just hungry" people. The appearance and taste of the food was great, and my friends and I had a good time people-watching (since you never know who will walk in there, laughing, and sharing our huge plates of food with each other.

When you've finished your food, you bus your own table and leave.

The baked goods are incredible, and the coffee/espresso drinks are to die for. Grab one or both on the way out =)

Pros: Amazing food, Cheap prices, Open 6a-4a

Cons: Cash-only, Employees can be apathetic

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Unique place - Edit

It's a little confusing as to how to order. Just come in, grab a menu, write your order on a slip of paper when you're ready, then seat yourself. The place is grungy but the food is great!

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Hard Times Cafe - Edit

This grungy restaurant has plenty of seating and many different vegan options to chose from. The breakfast was excellent, tofu scramble, and the desserts were good as well. The vegan muffin and chocolate chip cookies. Hope to be back soon.

The restaurant is a bit dirty and looks run down, and the restroom is dirty but I hope this doesn't reflect the cleanliness of the food and if you can put up with the dirtiness to have a good meal then it's not to bad.

If you are use to restaurants such as, Real Food Daily-Santa Monica, CA or Angelica's-New York, or even Mizuna's-Spokane, WA then this place is not for you.

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Not too bad - Edit

My first time to Hard Times was a bit of a mixed bag, but based on what it is I will for sure go back. The guy behind the counter was really nice. The cook was a bit cranky, but I enjoyed what she cooked, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt and assume a bad day. Both people ironically match the ambiance, which I think is fine. It's kind of a dive, which I think is either the intent or the result and is supported by the people working there and the clientele. Either way it's pretty cool. The vegan selections are pretty clear, so I think I would call it vegan friendly as well as vegetarian.

Pros: decent food, cool ambience

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Bathrooms bad! Food good! - Edit

My husband and I had visited several times, often doing the 45 minute drive to do nothing else but eat here! Until...I used the bathroom. Now I cannot eat here again. If they let the bathrooms be so vile, what state do they allow the kitchen to be in? Please owners read the reviews! This is such an easy fix! This place is not for the squeamish.

Pros: portions, price, variety

Cons: bathrooms, music volume

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