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Cheap Eats

The 99 best splurges in the metro under $10

Cheap Eats
Photo by Todd Buchanan

(page 3 of 8)

Small Perfections

Mort’s Delicatessen

The One-Pound Knish, $5.39

This doorstop of potatoey perfection is creamy, weighty, salty, and craveable—a real old-school delicatessen marvel. ☛ 525 Winnetka Ave. N., Golden Valley, 763-544-2900 morts-deli.com

Isles Bun & Coffee

Caramel pecan bun, $4

Lots of people make caramel buns, but almost all make the mistake of thinking that it’s the sweet part of the treat that is the big draw. Not so! It’s the bready, biscuity, wheaty freshness of Isles' always-just-baked buns that makes their caramel rolls so exquisite. The sticky, lush caramel or rich cream-cheese icing are simply the components that make that fresh, bready goodness decadent. ☛ 1424 W. 28th St., Mpls., 612-870-4466, islesbun.com

Coffee News Café

$5.75 grilled cheese

Coffee News draws equal parts Macalester students (it's practically on the St. Paul college's campus) and thrifty gourmets. The students come for the good coffee and free wi-fi. The gourmets come for the fresh-cut French fries speckled with bits of fresh garlic that accompany every sandwich, and the simply wonderful old-school grilled cheese made with good soft bread griddled till its crisp as a chip. ☛ 1662 Grand Ave.. S., St. Paul., 651-698-3324

Papa’s Restaurant & Deli

Philly cheese steak, $9.99

There’s only one cheese steak in Minnesota worth driving across town for, and that’s the beauty at north Minneapolis’s Papa Mike’s. The roll is big and soft, the meat is beefy, tender, and flavorful, the onions are well-caramelized, and the provolone cheese is tangy enough to taste but subtle enough to showcase the meat. Take a bite and you’ll think you’ve been transported to a glorious cheese-steak land like Chicago or Philadelphia.  ☛ 4159 Thomas Ave. N., Mpls., 612-521-7272, papaspizzaandpasta.com

St. Paul Bagelry & Deli

Everything bagel with smoked-salmon cream cheese, $2.40

A true New York bagel hits a dozen important notes of flavor and texture: It’s soft and springy inside, chewy and resilient outside, sweet and salty, big and subtle—and the best bagel this side of the Hudson has got to be the one at Roseville’s little can-do bagel shop, which now supplies a number of local grocery stores, too. Visit the mother ship, though, and you can sample their house-made flavored cream cheeses, like the fresh briny-smoked salmon cream cheese, or the just-as-satisfying vegetarian East Coast staple based on green olives. It’s a bagel to make any New Yorker happy, and a wonderful local way to sample the favorite snack of one of the greatest cities on Earth. ☛ 1702 Lexington Ave. N., Roseville, 651-488-1700, stpaulbagelry.com

Milda’s Café

Pasty, $6.75

The pasty (pronounced pass-tee) is an important part of Minnesota’s culinary heritage. Legend has it that the pastry-wrapped treats were brought to northern Minnesota by Cornish miners who carried them underground for lunch while working mines on the Iron Range. In contemporary Minneapolis, the best pasty is made at Milda’s, a little lunch-and-breakfast-only joint on the border of Golden Valley and the Bryn Mawr neighborhood. Milda’s pasties are served only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but the beefy, potatoey treat is worth seeking out. ☛ 1720 Glenwood Ave., Mpls., 612-377-9460

Ring Mountain Creamery Café

Dolci latte shake, $4.50

One of Italy’s great contributions to the world of street foods, the affogato, a vanilla gelato served in a pool of espresso, will make you weak at the knees. At Eagan’s homegrown Ring Mountain Creamery Café, the classic affogato is ramped up with full-throttle American glee. The “dolci latte shake” is a home-made gelato blended like a milk shake with espresso. Try one with ultra-dark chocolate gelato; dark as a blackout in an underwater cave and so good it should be regulated as a controlled substance. ☛ 1965 Cliff Lake Rd., Eagan, 651-454-7464, ringmountain.com

Liberty Frozen Custard

Turtle sundae, $4.49

The little concentrated pecans that top Liberty Custard’s turtle sundae add profound nutty oomph to the dish, while the hot fudge adds depth and the fresh vanilla custard makes it taste real and innocent and wholesome. ☛ 5401 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-8700, libertyfrozencustard.com

Shorty & Wag’s

Four chicken wings with ho-jo’s, $6.90

No roundup of the Twin Cities' best cheap eats would be complete without a mention of some good plain-old, fried-chicken wings—and Shorty and Wag’s has the best. So crisp, so salty, so meaty, so right in every way a bucket seems to vanish in seconds, leaving nothing but a strong desire to get more again soon. ☛ 3753 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-0619, shortyandwags.com

The Brothers’ Deli

New York–style pastrami sandwich, $9.09

Tender, plush pastrami, fresh tender rye, all of it piled high, all of it peppery and old-world and real. It’s the best pastrami sandwich in Minneapolis, hands-down. ☛ 50 S. Sixth St., Mpls., 612-341-8007, thebrothersdeli.com

Maison Darras

Prosciutto, mozzarella, and basil panini, $4.49

Ever since every coffee shop in town got a panini press, the concept has been degraded. A slightly warm grilled cheese is not a panini! What Maison Darras serves is panini: real, good French bread smashed and grilled with top-flight ingredients like prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves, until what emerges from the panini press is an indistinguishable whole new thing, and a scrumptious thing at that. ☛ 401 Robert St. N., St. Paul, 651-379-2770

Turtle Bread Company

Quart of soup, $8.79

Few families in south Minneapolis aren’t aware of the last-minute-dinner potential of soup and a loaf of bread from Turtle Bread. But in case you’re one of those families, please know that some of the best loaves in the country are to be had at Turtle Bread, alongside refrigerator cases filled with quarts of homemade soup in flavors ranging from Heart of Artichoke (with tangy Parmesan cheese) to New England clam chowder. ☛ 3421 W. 44th St., Mpls., 612-924-6013; 4762 Chicago Ave., Mpls., 612-823-7333; turtlebread.com

St. Paul Cheese Shop

Prosciutto di parma and talleggio sandwich, $9

Sandwiches are markedly enhanced by fancy cheese. But who ever has fancy cheese on hand for mere sandwich-making? The St. Paul Cheese shop, that’s who. This brand new offshoot of the great France 44 Cheese Shop on the Minneapolis–Edina border has a whole array of exquisitely sourced sandwiches, though it’s the prosciutto and tallegio one that is the real heartbreaker. Can everything wonderful about Italy really be compressed into a single bite? ☛ 1573 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-3391, france44.blogspot.com

Yum! Kitchen and Bakery

Beef stew, $8.95

A recent visit to Yum! revealed that six out of 10 tables were having the beef stew. No wonder: Eating this classic comfort of good beef, good gravy, and a ton of mashed potatoes feels like it should be a fundamental Midwestern right, alongside the right to get homemade quilts from Grandma at Christmas. ☛ 4000 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-922-4000, yumkitchen.com

Fat Lorenzo’s

Meatball hoagie, $7.99

The best meatball sub in the state, this zesty, gooey, plush, and, of course, meaty creation is about the size of a toaster oven and in many ways more versatile: Got a game to celebrate? A teenage football player to feed? An East Coast friend longing for home? A hunger that can’t be filled by mere human-size amounts of food? This sandwich will get all of those jobs done. Add some garlic cheese bread if you don’t want to eat again for a year. ☛ 5600 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-2040, fatlorenzos.com

Jerabek’s  New Bohemian

Chicken potpie, $4.95

Is it the flaky crust, buttery and minutely layered, or the creamy center, rich with chicken pieces and vegetables, that makes Jerabek’s chicken potpies so good? Hard to say, but once you try one you’ll know why this was the ultimate craveable comfort food of your grandparents’ generation, and you’ll start regarding the frozen ones in your local grocery store as nasty imposters. ☛ 56 E. Sixth St., St. Paul, 651-354-4332; 63 W. Winifred St., St. Paul, 651-228-1245, jerabeks.com

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