The Cahill Diner epitomizes everything that is good and average about dining in Inver Grove Heights. The food is good, not great, the service is friendly and fast and the portion sizes compared to price are average. In other words, when you go to Keys Cafe you know you will pay more but you will get a huge, heaping portion of whatever it is you order. The Cahill Diner is not as expensive as Keys, but the portion sizes are also not as heaping.
The Cahill Diner does the basic breakfast food right, but doesn’t have the signature dish that leaves people coming back for more – such as the Cajun breakfast at The Uptowner. The Cahill Diner does have a Cajun breakfast and it is good, but it’s not legendary, like at the Uptowner. In fact, if you took a poll of IGH residents and asked what the Cahill Diner is known for, there wouldn’t be a clear cut favorite. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe they just want to be the local cafe/diner that serves the basic needs of the IGH breakfast crowd and can be a friendly, low-key place to eat breakfast and have good conversation with your breakfast buddy.
At the Cahill Diner, the food is served fast and hot and any special requests are accommodated. There are occasional specials that help diversify the menu – order the chicken fajita omelet even if it’s not on the menu. Ask for extra jalapenos and a side of salsa. Mix it together with your hash browns and you have one of the hidden secrets of the Cahill Diner. It’s like a skillet on a plate. Even if it’s not on the menu word from the diner is that they will make it for you if they order. It should be added to the menu – it’s that tasty.
The Cahill Diner has a friendly atmosphere and chances are you are likely to run into someone you know there – that’s good and bad pending how you view it. Recently I saw the father of a high school classmate pounding down about what seemed to be 20 pieces of bacon. In fact, I don’t know if he even ordered anything else, other than bacon and coffee. I am not sure it was the healthiest choice but who are we to judge? And, that same guy was doing what most older men do at the local diner: Talking about car repairs. At one point this guy thought it was the head gasket that was the problem, but it turned out to be the serpentine belt that was causing the issue. “It’s always something,” the other guy said. That’s the classic car talk comeback. Saying “it’s always something” and nodding your head in agreement is a good way for non-car guys to participate in the conversation even though they don’t understand what the other is saying. There are other times when you may run into someone you don’t want to see at the Cahill Diner, like the time I ran into an ex-flames dad, at about 8 a.m. a night after spending a little too much time at an establishment down on Concord and overdoing it on Coors Light and Jag bombs. The red eyes and booze breath did not make a good impression that day. So be it – that’s just the way it goes at the local cafe.
The biggest complaint people seem to have about The Cahill Diner is it never seems to be open. The hours are clear – seven days a week, 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., but when people drive by in the late afternoon and evening and see it closed, it makes them wonder. The Cahill Diner has a decent lunch menu – again focusing around classic homestyle food with some specials mixed in, but gave up on the evening dinner crowd a few years ago. It was probably a smart move because it never seemed busy enough to stay open in the evening.
If you want a fast breakfast with friendly service, you can get it at the Cahill Diner. You won’t have to wait in long lines to get served. During the week you can show up at just about any time and quickly order and enjoy a good breakfast.
There are other weekend breakfast spots in IGH, including Jersey’s Bar and Grill, the Mississippi Pub and the Bierstube, but the Cahill Diner is Inver Grove Heights’ version of the small town cafe. It’s consistent. It’s good, not great. It’s everything to expect when eating in the city of Inver Grove Heights. You won’t be disappointed and you won’t be wowed. But hopefully you’ll leave full and satisfied and come back for more when the time is right.