Reviews written by Matthew F
Registered on Jun 9 11
So, Hard Times is pretty much my favorite restaurant. That said, I didn't give it 5 stars because you really have to know what you're getting at Hard Times and I could totally see someone having an unpleasant experience there.
The coffee: Really really thick, kind of murky. French Pressed. I love it-- it's some of my favorite coffee in the city, but it's too much for a lot of folks.
The baked goods: The Espresso Cupcake is the best cupcake i've gotten from a cafe. Their muffins are a little dense for me. Their cookies are usually really good. I don't like the peanut butter cup. They change it up a lot, and some of the best items are random one-offs.
The soups are really good, and just about everybody loves the vegan biscuits and gravy.
The service is quick, especially when it's not too busy. I've ordered soup and had it ready before I sat down. If you expect the staff to smile at you and compliment your shirt you'll be totally disappointed. On the flip side, if someone working there smiles at you or makes conversation, you'll know it's because they actually want to, rather than faking it to keep their manager happy. It's more honest that way.
Make sure you write what you want down on a slip of paper and put your name on the bottom, otherwise you'll piss off the barista. If you've got a super common name, like Matthew, make sure you put your last initial down so that you don't hear your name called, pick up someone with the same names food, and then come to blows thinking that you stole each others' food.
It's not actually dirty, just grungy. You can see the kitchen, and it's super clean and sanitary. The bathrooms are full of graffiti but people don't piss on the seat. The tables are carved up but they get wiped down as often as you'd expect from a cafe.
Hard Times is one of the few all vegetarian restaurants in the cities, and it's collectively run to boot! That alone makes me love it.
I went there and ordered a bean burrito with no cheese and no sour cream. I emphasized that I wanted bean and not beef. They asked if I wanted black beans or pinto beans, and I chose pinto. I said I can't eat any dairy and pointed at my stomach for emphasis (while vegan, I'm also lactose intolerant).
When my burrito came I took a bite and it tasted really weird. I opened it up to look inside and it had lots of beef, no beans, and cheese. Brought it back to the counter and said I can't eat meat or cheese, and that I ordered bean with no cheese. I almost never send back food (MN nice), but I was hungry and they really messed up my order.
I had the good sense to open up burrito #2 before eating it. This one had no cheese, and had beans and beef. Getting closer, but still not a vegan burrito. I sent it back and they were irritated and said it had beans and no cheese. I said I can't eat any animal products, and I said no meat or cheese. They said "nothing on it?" and I said "no beef or cheese"
Finally a vegan burrito! I opened it up, and it had just a little bit of rice, beans, and peas. Burritos #1 and 2 came with chips-- Burrito #3 didn't come with any. Probably a passive aggressive way of saying that they were tired of me sending back burritos. The burrito wasn't particularly tasty, but it wasn't particularly bad, either. It didn't have a lot of filling in it, but that probably goes along with the lack of chips.
This is the first time I've gotten a non-veg dish or had trouble explaining vegan needs in South Minneapolis. There's enough vegans here that usually restaurants are familiar with it.
Dibs is one of the few places in Winona to get a decent vegan meal. I haven't had the burritos but I have friends who swear by them. The baked goods are real good. The coffee's amazing, especially given that it's only a dollar. That atmosphere is kind of like a friendlier, less grungy version of Hard Times(MPLS).
There's also a small arcade of old pinball machines and video games.