What’s cheap? When I embarked on a quest to discover the best cheap eats in the Twin Cities, my first task was to define “cheap.” To do so, I scampered to the top of the Foshay Tower, perched cross-legged on the spire, and meditated. “I know that $12 is the new $10,” I told the little birds that flitted around me curiously. “But I think I don’t care, because in the wake of the Great Recession, people are more sensitive to these incrementally creeping prices than ever before.”
“Then you must do what you think is right,” twittered the little birds. “Go forth and find the most delicious, craveable, wonderful dishes everywhere—but they must cost less than $10.”
So I plunged to earth and did just that. But I was tested mercilessly. Dishes that cost $10.50, $10.95, even $10.25 mocked and baited me at every turn. I ran weeping from one particularly beguiling temptress, a beef with broccoli for $10.95. In the end, though, I emerged triumphant: Here is my list of the best cheap eats the Twin Cities currently has to offer—the dishes that will haunt you in your dreams with their deliciousness yet make nary a dent in your wallet. You’ll find date destinations, takeout spots, and some of the most authentic and delicious ethnic dishes from Lebanon, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and so many more places in these pages. So empty your penny jar, rifle through those couch cushions, and don’t forget to look under the car seats before you go for a bite. It’s a delicious time to be thrifty.