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Pancakes on Central Avenue.
Justine Jones

14 Budget-Friendly Restaurants in the Twin Cities

Local feasts around the $10 mark, or less

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Pancakes on Central Avenue.
| Justine Jones

No need to break the bank to find a great meal around the Twin Cities. Northeast Minneapolis in particular is a hot spot for excellent cheap eats, but whether you’re on the hunt for a steaming bowl of pho, a turkey melt, or a falafel platter, these restaurants across the Cities won’t disappoint. Some of them do have pricier meals on the menu, if you’re in the mood to splurge a little, but all have at least a handful of good options around the $10 mark, or below. Here are 14 budget-friendly restaurants in the Twin Cities.

Note that these restaurants are listed geographically.

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iPho by Saigon

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iPho by Saigon is famous for its 10-pound jumbo pho. (Huge soup bowl, or tiny bathtub?) If you’re not up for the challenge, a regular or extra-large still hits the spot. iPho offers every kind of meat combo imaginable, from a seafood medley to brisket and flank steak. This broth runs a little on the sweet side, and is laced with anise and cloves.

Trung Nam French Bakery

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Trung Nam may be best known for its banh mi, made with with fresh-baked baguettes. But the dark horse of this Frogtown bakery is its not-too-sweet croissants, which come in an array of fruit flavors, from strawberry and apple to blueberry and apricot. Go for the coconut, if it’s available — the flakes are folded into the delicate, airy layers of dough.

A half-eaten croissant sits on a paper napkin on a red table.
A coconut croissant from Trung Nam. 
Justine Jones

Mim's Cafe

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Mim’s is a great St. Paul spot for Middle Eastern cuisine. Start with a creamy plate of hummus drizzled with olive oil, or baba ghanoush with pita. For a main dish, the chicken shawarma and falafel platters are equally delectable.

Two platters of Middle Eastern food on a dark table.
Platters from Mim’s.
Mim’s Cafe

Zakia Deli

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Stop by Zakia for some of the Cities’ best Greek and Lebanese food. This is a great spot for a quick gyro or kibbi to go, but if you have more time, don’t hesitate to dine in on the bright little patio. Specials rotate daily (think lamb shank, bazella and rice, and savory loubieh, a green bean stew), and a piece of baklava or honey cake is a must to finish off the meal.

A lamb shank sits in a bowl of rice on a table with vegetables in the foreground.
A lamb shank from Zakia Deli.
Zakia Deli

Marino's Deli

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A classic Italian deli in Northeast Minneapolis, Marino’s has been around — first as a cafe, now as a full-service deli — since 1969. Grab a sandwich for lunch (the house sub, heaped with genoa salami, cappocollo, provolone, and meatballs is a great bet) and add on sides like spaghetti, Italian sausage, and garlic bread. Save room for cannoli, of course.

Maya Cuisine

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We’re still waiting for a taco truck on every corner, but until then, stop by Maya Cuisine on Central Avenue for platters of tacos, huaraches and tamales for around ten dollars. Maya Cuisine also has a great weekend brunch buffet.

Ideal Diner

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Ideal Diner, a tiny, sunshine-yellow diner on Central Avenue, has served Northeast Minneapolis since 1949. Today, it’s one of the few spots in the Cities you can get a cup of coffee for $1.75. Breakfast dishes are served all day — the Polish Man breakfast, a combo of eggs, Polish sausage, and hash browns, nods to the neighborhood’s Eastern European immigrant roots. Buttermilk short stacks are served with a generous dollop of butter.

Uncle Franky's

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Nothing beats a good dog for a cheap and satisfying lunch. Even a double dog at Uncle Franky’s is under $10. While the tiny Minneapolis spot is famous for its hotdogs, and rightfully so, give their version of a Juicy Lucy a try for around $8, or the triple (yes, triple!) Windy City Burger for $7.50. Plan for a nap immediately afterwards. 

A Chicago dog topped with peppers, tomatoes, relish, and onions.
A Chicago dog from Uncle Franky’s.
Eli Radtke

Emily's Lebanese Deli

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This mom-and-pop deli has been around for almost half a century, serving platters of hummus, baba ghanoush and some of the best kibbi in town. Best bet for lunch? The appetizer platter paired with a Lebanese salad, or the fried kibbi sandwich.

Sammy’s Avenue Eatery

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Chef Sammy McDowell opened Sammy’s Avenue Eatery in 2012, and it’s since become a mainstay of Broadway Avenue. Stop by for a turkey bacon club, a chicken teriyaki sandwich, or a chicken salad sandwich, all around $6.75 — for a quick, hearty breakfast, the egg sandwiches all clock in around $6. If you can, come on a day when McDowell is collaborating with local chefs on a soul food menu (think smothered chicken and rice or cheeseburger meatloaf).

Two subs with bacon, turkey, provolone, lettuce and tomato in buns on a a green and white checkered paper.
Turkey clubs from Sammy’s.
Sammy’s Avenue Eatery

Lu's Sandwiches

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Lu’s serves some of the best banh mi around: The baguettes crackle beautifully around the tender meat, and the zippy vegetables balance it all out. You can’t go wrong with the classic grilled pork, but options like the Special Ham, made with Vietnamese meatloaf and pork belly, or the pork meatballs (marinated Shanghai-style) are also great bets. Grab some doughy sesame balls for a sweet bite of dessert.

Tacos El Kevin

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Don’t miss Tacos El Kevin. Tucked a little building on Portland Avenue that’s painted with bright stripes of green, yellow, and blue, it’s one of the Cities’ best bets for tacos. Keep it classic with barbacoa or carnitas, or go for the crispy tacos dorados. (If you’re on the hunt for something heartier, try the mojarra frita and dig into a whole fried fish.)

Matt's Bar

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Matt’s, which claims to be the home of the original Jucy Lucy (to distinguish its Lucy from other Twin Cities versions, Matt’s spells its burger without the “I”) is a great budget-friendly option for classic bar food. The Lucy clocks in at $9.75, while classic burgers, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheeses, and fries all run under $10.

Bull's Horn Food and Drink

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For under ten bucks, this south Minneapolis dive churns out some excellent classic burgers. Another star of the menu is the fried chicken — it’s pickle brined, which makes the meat extra tender and gives it salty and sweet undertones. Get a whole nine-piece bucket to share, or go for the chicken gizzards as an appetizer.

iPho by Saigon

iPho by Saigon is famous for its 10-pound jumbo pho. (Huge soup bowl, or tiny bathtub?) If you’re not up for the challenge, a regular or extra-large still hits the spot. iPho offers every kind of meat combo imaginable, from a seafood medley to brisket and flank steak. This broth runs a little on the sweet side, and is laced with anise and cloves.

Trung Nam French Bakery

Trung Nam may be best known for its banh mi, made with with fresh-baked baguettes. But the dark horse of this Frogtown bakery is its not-too-sweet croissants, which come in an array of fruit flavors, from strawberry and apple to blueberry and apricot. Go for the coconut, if it’s available — the flakes are folded into the delicate, airy layers of dough.

A half-eaten croissant sits on a paper napkin on a red table.
A coconut croissant from Trung Nam. 
Justine Jones

Mim's Cafe

Mim’s is a great St. Paul spot for Middle Eastern cuisine. Start with a creamy plate of hummus drizzled with olive oil, or baba ghanoush with pita. For a main dish, the chicken shawarma and falafel platters are equally delectable.

Two platters of Middle Eastern food on a dark table.
Platters from Mim’s.
Mim’s Cafe

Zakia Deli

Stop by Zakia for some of the Cities’ best Greek and Lebanese food. This is a great spot for a quick gyro or kibbi to go, but if you have more time, don’t hesitate to dine in on the bright little patio. Specials rotate daily (think lamb shank, bazella and rice, and savory loubieh, a green bean stew), and a piece of baklava or honey cake is a must to finish off the meal.

A lamb shank sits in a bowl of rice on a table with vegetables in the foreground.
A lamb shank from Zakia Deli.
Zakia Deli

Marino's Deli

A classic Italian deli in Northeast Minneapolis, Marino’s has been around — first as a cafe, now as a full-service deli — since 1969. Grab a sandwich for lunch (the house sub, heaped with genoa salami, cappocollo, provolone, and meatballs is a great bet) and add on sides like spaghetti, Italian sausage, and garlic bread. Save room for cannoli, of course.

Maya Cuisine

We’re still waiting for a taco truck on every corner, but until then, stop by Maya Cuisine on Central Avenue for platters of tacos, huaraches and tamales for around ten dollars. Maya Cuisine also has a great weekend brunch buffet.

Ideal Diner

Ideal Diner, a tiny, sunshine-yellow diner on Central Avenue, has served Northeast Minneapolis since 1949. Today, it’s one of the few spots in the Cities you can get a cup of coffee for $1.75. Breakfast dishes are served all day — the Polish Man breakfast, a combo of eggs, Polish sausage, and hash browns, nods to the neighborhood’s Eastern European immigrant roots. Buttermilk short stacks are served with a generous dollop of butter.

Uncle Franky's

Nothing beats a good dog for a cheap and satisfying lunch. Even a double dog at Uncle Franky’s is under $10. While the tiny Minneapolis spot is famous for its hotdogs, and rightfully so, give their version of a Juicy Lucy a try for around $8, or the triple (yes, triple!) Windy City Burger for $7.50. Plan for a nap immediately afterwards. 

A Chicago dog topped with peppers, tomatoes, relish, and onions.
A Chicago dog from Uncle Franky’s.
Eli Radtke

Emily's Lebanese Deli

This mom-and-pop deli has been around for almost half a century, serving platters of hummus, baba ghanoush and some of the best kibbi in town. Best bet for lunch? The appetizer platter paired with a Lebanese salad, or the fried kibbi sandwich.

Sammy’s Avenue Eatery

Chef Sammy McDowell opened Sammy’s Avenue Eatery in 2012, and it’s since become a mainstay of Broadway Avenue. Stop by for a turkey bacon club, a chicken teriyaki sandwich, or a chicken salad sandwich, all around $6.75 — for a quick, hearty breakfast, the egg sandwiches all clock in around $6. If you can, come on a day when McDowell is collaborating with local chefs on a soul food menu (think smothered chicken and rice or cheeseburger meatloaf).

Two subs with bacon, turkey, provolone, lettuce and tomato in buns on a a green and white checkered paper.
Turkey clubs from Sammy’s.
Sammy’s Avenue Eatery

Lu's Sandwiches

Lu’s serves some of the best banh mi around: The baguettes crackle beautifully around the tender meat, and the zippy vegetables balance it all out. You can’t go wrong with the classic grilled pork, but options like the Special Ham, made with Vietnamese meatloaf and pork belly, or the pork meatballs (marinated Shanghai-style) are also great bets. Grab some doughy sesame balls for a sweet bite of dessert.

Tacos El Kevin

Don’t miss Tacos El Kevin. Tucked a little building on Portland Avenue that’s painted with bright stripes of green, yellow, and blue, it’s one of the Cities’ best bets for tacos. Keep it classic with barbacoa or carnitas, or go for the crispy tacos dorados. (If you’re on the hunt for something heartier, try the mojarra frita and dig into a whole fried fish.)

Matt's Bar

Matt’s, which claims to be the home of the original Jucy Lucy (to distinguish its Lucy from other Twin Cities versions, Matt’s spells its burger without the “I”) is a great budget-friendly option for classic bar food. The Lucy clocks in at $9.75, while classic burgers, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheeses, and fries all run under $10.

Bull's Horn Food and Drink

For under ten bucks, this south Minneapolis dive churns out some excellent classic burgers. Another star of the menu is the fried chicken — it’s pickle brined, which makes the meat extra tender and gives it salty and sweet undertones. Get a whole nine-piece bucket to share, or go for the chicken gizzards as an appetizer.

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