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Hard Times Cafe

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 36 reviews )
Contact 612-341-9261

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 (36)

First Review by condekedar

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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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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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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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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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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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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Support all vegan cafe! - Edit

This place is great. My husband and I come to MPLS fairly often to visit family and there are few all-vegan eateries. The staff is friendly and efficient, the food absolutely delicious and the coffee as good as it gets. Feels good to support a place doing all the right things. Would be nice if they cleaned once in a while, but, hey, guess we can't have everything.

Pros: great value, tasty food, big portions

Cons: dirty, music too lout

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Reviewer Avatar

yum - Edit

I actualy went here last nigth before a concert and I loved it. The food was good and I thought the music was good(though I can pretty much get into any type of music). I've read in other reviews that the staff kinda seemed to be rude and I didn't experience any of that. I'll deffinetly go again

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ewww - Edit

I got a tofu breakfast sandwich and coffee. It was greasy and bland. This place is unfortunately a typical dirty hippie establishment. One man took off his shoes and was cleaning them at the table, and another was eyeing my bag trying to spark up a conversation/asking me to take his picture and 'just come over here for a sec'. If you want to go here you probably shouldn't wear nice clothes because people will stare.

Pros: coffee good, soymilk available

Cons: dirty, creepy, rude

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Huge selection of vegan food. - Edit

Three of us went here for lunch today, we are all vegans. There were so many choices on the menu it was almost hard to choose. Of the things we got I would say that the gravy was definitely the best. Next time I think I would just order the gravy on whatever else I was ordering. The vegan muffins were OK, but a little bland. The hash browns were pretty tasty but next time I would order them extra well done.

Pros: Great selection, Friendly Service

Cons: grungy atmosphere

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It's a dive bar but the food is so awesome! - Edit

Once you get past the not so friendly staff and the dirtiness of the place the food is quite wonderful. It's far from healthy fare but super delicious. They have a lot of great vegan choices and I've never been disappointed. I really love this place. It's a great place to people watch too. There's always an interesting array of people eating here. Hard Times is a really unique place and an asset to the Twin Cities. Just use the bathroom before your visit!

Pros: All vegetarian, Lots of vegan options, excellent food at a good price

Cons: A bit dirty but cool atmosphere, Staff can be rude, Bathroom gives me the heebie jeebies

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GREAT asset to Minneapolis. - Edit

I was super intimidated to try this place after reading the reviews on this site. However, I was hungry and in a city that had a veggie place. How could I *not* go?? I went there on Friday late morning. There were a few people in dining inside, but the place wasn't packed. I was a little confused where to pick up the menu and what to do exactly, but I got it figured out.

The barista was extremely friendly contrary to what I've read on this site. And I'm not some cute tiny little vegan chick with a great sense of style. I'm just a normal girl-next-door type of person so there is NO way he was being extra nice to me.

I was feeling hungry so I ordered the full-size hashbrowns (for about $3) and a bowl of the mushroom barley soup (also about $3).

A few minutes later my food was ready and my name was called. The cook was also friendly and she smiled when I came to retrieve my food.

Holy smokes!! The food portions are ridiculously huge. My plate of hash browns (which are shredded in house) was enough to feed a family of 8. There must have been 10 potatoes worth of hash browns on that plate. They were delicious, but I felt sad for throwing so much of it away. The bowl of soup was a HUGE bowl, too! And it came with FOUR slices of bread!! The soup was good, but could have been better had fresh (rather than canned) mushrooms been used. However, what would you expect for that price??

I personally liked the decor of Hard Times. I thought it was fun, funky, and a great place to hang. The bathroom was a bit skeezy, but seriously - it's what I would expect from that place.

I was also fine with the music (I heard the cook and the barista talking about it. The guy said he found it a record shop in Iowa City earlier that week). So obviously it's chosen by whoever is working. On this particular day it wasn't loud or overbearing. It was at a pleasant level. I really enjoyed my experience and can't wait to return to try something a bit more adventurous.

Pros: Friendly Fun Atmosphere, Inexpensive, LARGE portions

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Great Breakfast Food - Edit

My husband and I stopped here for breakfast. The guy taking my order was really helpful and nice. I got the vegan biscuits and gravy and the vegan breakfast bagel (so what! I was hungry!!!) The food was amazing. I actually ate it out in the parking lot. It certainly wasn't health food, but it was delicious.

I would recommend getting your food to go. Also, pee before you leave the house.

Pros: Great food, Inexpensive, Friendly staff

Cons: Not someplace you want to stay to eat

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No complaints here. - Edit

Hard Times is just right for what it is, and the poor reviews I've read for it usually seem to come from people who were expecting something very different. It's a all-night, collective dive diner that happens to offer really good vegan food. The restaurant and facilities are not pretty, and service with a constant smile doesn't seem to be a priority, but if you want good eats at (almost) any hour then Hard Times is perfect. The staff isn't ridiculously chipper, but I've never had a problem with anyone being too surly or rude, either. This is not a place I would bring my grandmother for Sunday brunch. If I needed to use the bathroom, I'd probably rather wait till I got home. The background music is the choice of whoever is working at the time, so it may not be to your specific tastes (it's often not to mine). But the food I've ordered has always been good, the prices are very reasonable, and they offer a fair selection of vegan pastries, cookies, etc. in their dessert case.

When you come in, your write down your order (plus the price and your name) on a slip of paper and give it to whoever is working the counter and pay (cash only). They relay this to the cook while you find your own seating, and when your food is ready the cook will call you up to the counter to get it. You add your own condiments and such here as well.

I highly recommend the vegan biscuits and gravy.

Pros: Great food, mostly veg/vegan, Good prices, Open 23 hours a day

Cons: Unpretty, Don't accept credit cards, Street parking only

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Awesome Dive Bar/Restaurant - Edit

Wow was this place interesting - its dive bar beyond dive bar, but so neat. This place has a community type-feel, like a local hang out for a diverse range of people. I really liked the feel here; there were random things on the wall, random writings on the wall, etc.

I thought the food was good, although I didn't like a spice that was on my Vegan Philly Cheese Sandwich. The other two individuals with me absolutely loved their entrees. The Vegan Chocolate Mint cookie was amazing; apparently the brownie was quite good as well (my friends loved it).

Prices were VERY reasonable - CASH ONLY.

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Good Food - Edit

I have only been there once, but I was able to try a little bit of three different dishes. I had a black bean burrito and I tried some of my friends dishes, the falafel platter and grilled cheese. All were great dishes and I would love to go back and try more as there is quite a lot on the menu.

The place is a bit rundown, as others have commented, but it is called "Hard Times Cafe." I think the atmosphere caters to a specific crowd and it suited me and my friends quite well.

I would definitely go again when I travel up to the cities.

Pros: Cheap, Good Food, Good Atmopshere

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must visit place - Edit

This place rocks. Its setup is kind of odd, but i wouldnt expect anything less from a collective like this. the food was amazing. i had a vegan helter skelter and a vegan pancake. the pancake was insanely huge. bigger then the plate it was served on. both items were delicious. it IS greasy breakfast food, what you would expect to eat at a diner for breakfast that served vegan food. i wasnt looking for the healthiest of options, so i didnt mind the increased taste. oh, and the oj was delicious. they also had a large selection of teas and coffees. it is right next to some uni, so its a popular hang out for college kids. the music wasnt loud. i read a little bit of my book while i waited for my food, which did take a bit of time, but i didnt mind the atmosphere, thus waiting wasnt that big of an issue. the kitchen is small, and i would rather have food prepared for me, and a longer wait, then prepared food with no wait. service is best described as efficient. dont go here if you want bougie type service, but they seemed willing to help if asked. overall, a great place. ill be back before i break out of this cold place. oh, atmosphere is kind of like saturn in santa cruz or pokeyz in san diego.

Pros: food, cheap, atmosphere

Cons: kind of long wait, parking

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One-of-a-kind awesome - Edit

Hard Times is the ultimate punk-rock all-night vegetarian cafe and restaurant. At any given moment expect to see intellectual punkers, hobos with coffee, and everyday folks playing chess. The atmosphere is pure 1970s grunge, with a kick. The music is a bit too loud, but tolerable; the food is well-priced and tasty, with various comfort-foods, gyros, tacos, burgers, hummus and desserts. They can make pretty much anything vegan and everything is vegetarian. Waits for food are long and the service isn't the friendliest, but it's crisp and mostly efficient. Come to Hard Times for the food and the vibe. It's a Minneapolis institution.

Pros: Atmosphere, Food, Open 6 a.m.-4 a.m.

Cons: Loud music, Curt service, No parking

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