Photos by Caitlin Abrams
Waffles with house-made caramel, poached pears, and walnuts from Liege
Waffles with house-made caramel, poached pears, and walnuts from Liege
Sometimes the best cheap eats are hiding in plain sight. You just have to know how to dig around your favorite menus to find them. Here are 17 delicious dishes that are enjoyable and modestly priced.
Fat Pants Friday (Wayzata) | Fridays in the bar mean a monstrous seven-layer sandwich creation that will blow you away for $8. It’s ugly, but eats pretty. 6smith.com
Tennessee Hot Fried Chicken (Kingfield) | If you can get in for a quick bite, the already-legendary hot chicken is $7.50 for two pieces. revivalmpls.com
Pulled Pork Dinner (Champlin) | Some of the best barbeque in the metro. Smoked for 14 hours, the 1/3-pound pork comes with a side (pick the barbecue baked beans) and a buttery roll for $9. qfanatic.com
Mr. Papaya Kitchen
Air-Fried Barbecue (Frogtown) | In the Hmongtown Marketplace food court get this hot-box air-fried porkbelly for $12. It’s a chunk of meat so gelatinous, so rich, so meaty you will fall down in food-gasms of joy. hmongtownmarketplace.com
Camel Burger (Midtown) | Is there a better way to celebrate hump day than by eating an actual camel? This Middle Eastern burger (with fries) is only $8. safariexpresstogo.com
L’Etoile du Nord Café
Liege Waffles (Bayport) | Extra lush, custardy inside, and extra-crispy outside, once you taste Liege waffles you’ll never forget. Here they come plain for $6, fancied up with house-made caramel, poached pears, and walnuts for $9. letoiledunordcafe.com
Pork Bulgogi (U of M) | It’s a bit divey here, but order the pork bulgogi for a cafeteria tray boasting a massive sizzling pile of chili-soaked pork, half a dozen banchan (Korean pickles), and rice for well under $10.
Emily’s Lebanese Deli
Spinach Pie (Northeast) | The tender, pliant dough, the lemony, herbal spinach filling, it’s hard to explain why this spinach pie is so much greater than the sum of its parts. But it is only $5.50! emilyslebanesedeli.com
Chili Cheese Fries (Lyn-Lake) | We know it’s all about hot dogs here, but come on, who doesn’t pine for fries doused in rich chili and then smothered in creamy cheese? A large serving of this perfect food goes for just $8.50. prairiedogsausage.com
Hot Pot (Summit-University) | Enjoy a do-it-yourself Asian broth fondue with a spectacular array of fresh ingredients for just $11. If indecision is your bane, this might burn it out of you. littleszechuan.com
Gandhi Mahal Restaurant
Rogan Josh (Longfellow) | Tender lamb simmered in the traditional creamy tomato and garlic sauce is exemplary at this Longfellow spot for $15 and is more than a meal-maker. gandhimahal.com
Tibs (Hamline-Midway) | Because you eat it with your hands, a finger-licking order of marinated rib-eye with onions, peppers and rosemary is just one $12 chart-topper at this Ethiopian eatery. fasika.com
Red Wagon Pizza
Gram’s Country Chicken Skillet (Armatage) | Genius to use an already- smokin’-hot pizza oven to cook a cast-iron skillet dish. This one, with potato confit, onions, and sausage, is topped with braised chicken thighs for a classic $13. redwagon-mpls.com
Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop
Cognac Brownie (Northeast) | You need a fix of deeply dark and dense chocolate? Pick up this brick of a brownie that is so much better than a bake sale for $2.99. surdyks.com
Texas Donut (Anoka & Navarre) | Sometimes one doughnut isn’t enough, unless it’s the Texas Donut as big as your face for $3.50. hans-bakery.com
Holy Land Deli
Rotisserie Chicken (Northeast) | Skip the supermarket bird and get to Central Avenue for the best rotisserie chicken, hands down. Make it a meal by adding bread, salad, hummus, and tzatziki sauce for just $19.99. holylandbrand.com
Ice Cream Sandwich (Kingfield) | A kiddie treat that is anything but: Start with a cookie made with corn meal, Corn Pops, and Fritos, and dotted with butterscotch, chocolate chips, and a bit of coffee. Use it to bank fresh vanilla ice cream and serve it up for $5. holaarepa.com
10 Dolla’ Holla
10 EPIC dishes, $10 and under.
- 112 Eatery’s bacon egg and harissa sandwich, $9.
- A slice of mac ’n’ cheese pizza from Mesa Pizza, $3.75.
- Banana bread French toast with Nutella, $10, at Libertine brunch.
- Icehouse Dog, fries, and a tallboy, $6, at Icehouse happy hour.
- Yukon potato buffalo chips with pulled chicken, buffalo sauce and blue cheese, $9.25, at The Lowry.
- Lowertown TwinKey from Buttered Tin, $2.50.
- Banana split with 3 ice creams + 3 toppings, $7.50, at Cold Front.
- At Big Daddy’s BBQ, the Flintstone all-beef short rib sandwich with signature sauce, $9.99.
- In Butcher & The Boar’s year-round beer garden, German Nachos with kraut, sausage, butterkäse cheese sauce, and pickled chilies is one of many options that are $10.
- Wee fried oyster sliders with spicy aioli kick it at Smack Shack, $8.95.
Be a Maller: MOA + Family of Four + Eats = $40
Taking the family to Hugedale can be daunting, especially when you consider that eventually you’ve got to feed everyone. Here’s how we fed a family of four for about $40.
- The old-fashioned burger joint is one of the original restaurants from when MOA opened in 1992. Sit at the counter, order a malt, and pretend it’s 1959. johnnyrockets.com
- Original burger $5.99 + Route 66 swiss & mushroom burger $6.28 + Houston spicy cheeseburger $7.19 + patty melt $6.99 + onion rings $4.09 + 2 malts $4.99 each = $40.52
Masu Sushi & Robata
- Maybe the best restaurant in the entire mall. Creative sushi, awesome ramen, and great Japanese dishes like robata skewers. masusushiandrobata.com
- Pork belly ramen $13 + 2 short rib robata $5 each + 2 bacon wrapped quail eggs $4 each + tuna poke roll $8.50 = $39.50
- Who doesn’t like meatballs? Just choose your sauce and dress them up. Or build a flatbread or salad for a fixed price. themeatballspot.com
- Flatbread $6.95 + 3 meatball sliders $5.95 + create your own salad $8.95 + meatball sampler $12.95 = $34.80
Tucci Benucch To-Go Window
- One of MOA’s better spots has a grab-n-go window. Pastas, sandwiches, salads: After 6 pm buy one get one half off! tucci-benucch.com
- Turkey and smoked mozzarella sandwich $3.99 + gemelli pesto cream pasta $6.99 + baked spaghetti $5.99 + chopped salad $6.99 + 4 chocolate chip cookies $1.25 each = $28.96
Twin City Grill
- Flatbreads and burgers here are top-notch. The place feels like a clubby steakhouse, but easier and more family friendly. twincitygrillrestaurant.com
- Grilled vegetable flatbread $10.95 + prime hamburger $12.95 + kids’ fish & chips $7.95 + chicken & cheese pizza $7.95 = $39.80
- For some reason sandwiches are more exciting to kids when they’re in pitas. It’s fast, cheap, and not fried. pitapitusa.com
- Chicken souvlaki pita $7.89 + hummus pita $7.89 + 2 kids’ ham/turkey pitas $3.99 each + avocado dip and side of pitas $3.68 + 2 bags of chips $1.29 each = $30.02
- The build-your-own pizza situation has unlimited toppings for a flat rate. Choose everything from crust to sauce to cheese. pizzastudio.com
- Pizza 8.99 (x4) = $35.96
- We love all the healthy options and everyone loves the price. restaurants.nordstrom.com
- Cilantro lime chicken salad $12.25 + shrimp & asparagus risotto $14.25 + kids’ grilled cheese & tomato soup $5.50 + kids’ pasta & fruit $4.95 = $36.95
- The local chain delivers an economical sit-down lunch for four. Sit “outside” on the patio above the mall’s bustle. craveamerica.com
- Caprese flatbread $13.95 + chicken, apple & brie sandwich $12.95 + kids’ penne with tomato sauce $5.95 + kids’ chicken quesadilla $5.95 = $38.80