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Joy Summers

The Essential Cheap Eats of the Twin Cities

These affordable dishes represent the best of Minneapolis and St. Paul eating.

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Cheap eats not only fall in the category of affordable dining, but often they're the tastiest bite on the block. We appreciate the value of a buck. That's why Minneapolis and St. Paul have plenty of thrifty food options. Here are twenty one of our essential dishes, in alphabetical order, to get a taste of the Twin Cities. Don't agree? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments what your essential cheap eats are.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Travail Kitchen & Amusements

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4124 West Broadway
Robbinsdale, MN 55422
(763) 535-1131
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There's one building and two concepts led by these mavericks of the local food scene. Travail is tasting menu only. Inside The Rookery, small bites are just a couple of dollars and rotate often. It's a fantastic way to taste what's on the edge of the culinary landscape.

2. Sandcastle

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4955 W Lake Nokomis Pkwy
Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 722-5550
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Summer is fleeting. Every warm day should be spent near the water with a little sand between your toes. There is no better way to toast that glorious orb in the sky than with an icy cold cup of Sandcastle's horchata. [Photo by Katie Cannon]

3. Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

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123 North 3rd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 746-5533
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All it takes is one swipe of this ultra creamy chickpea puree to realize you've never really tasted hummus before.

4. Kramarczuk's East European Deli

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215 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 379-3018
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Nordeast might now be know as a hip kid draw, but there was time when this neighborhood was mostly Eastern European immigrants. The Old Word tastes are all available inside Kramarczuk's — specifically in the Polish sausage.

5. Matt's Bar

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3500 Cedar Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 722-7072
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Fear the molten cheese, but don't worry about running out of cash at this quintessential Minneapolis burger bar. Even if you don't believe that this was the original jucy lucy, it's hard to argue with beef on a bun at this price.

6. 88 Oriental Foods Grocery

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291 University Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55103
It only looks bright, crisp and refreshing, but digging into the green papaya salad served at the deli inside this University Avenue grocer, an unsuspecting eater will find the fury of juicy hellfire. It makes an unbearably hot summer day even better with the addition of a little fire within. Make sure to seek out this stand at the Little Mekong Night Market.

7. A Baker's Wife Pastry Shop

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4200 28th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 729-6898
There's a veritable cult that's arisen around this fluffy cake doughnut tossed in cinnamon sugar. Converting costs less than a dollar. [Photo courtesy A Bakers Wife Facebook page]

8. Colossal Café

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1839 E 42nd St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 729-2377
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The name of this tiny restaurant might be ironic, but it also might refer to the sourdough pancakes.

9. Dusty's Bar

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1319 Marshall St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 378-2118
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There's nothing fancy or trendy inside this working class bar, just an appreciation for a hard earned dollar. Get a cold pint of beer, a bump and a dago. Cooked right behind the bar on a flattop grill, the dago is sausage, peppers, onion and a slice of provolone cheese on a white bread bun. [Photo by Katie Cannon]

10. Isles Bun & Coffee

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1424 W 28th St
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 870-4466
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Oh magical, gooey cinnamon roll, you deserve sonnets written about you. Sure, your cousin the doughnut is having a moment, but the twist of sweet dough, laced with that aromatic spice and topped with creamy, sweet icing remains a classic. [Photo courtesy Isles Bun Facebook page]

11. Jasmine Deli

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2532 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404
(612) 870-4700
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A banh mi is more than a simple sandwich, but all things wonderful about a midday meal. [Photo courtesy Jasmine Deli Facebook page]

12. La Loma Tamales

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920 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 870-3645
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The Oaxacan tamale from La Loma is so tender you'll banish all memory of other tamales after the first bite. [Photo courtesy La Loma Tamale Facebook page]

13. Mancini's Char House & Lounge

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531 7th St W
Saint Paul, MN 55102
(651) 224-7345
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Mancini's has been serving generations of St. Paulites steak in style at this family owned spot on West 7th. Carb lovers delight with the application of bread to that heavily seasoned grill.

14. Maverick's

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1746 Lexington Ave N
Roseville, MN 55113
(651) 488-1788
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Tender, blushing roast beef is piled on a pillowy bun and served with every condiment ever wished for. [Photo courtesy Yelp]

15. Monte Carlo Restaurant

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219 3rd Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 333-5900
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Dining inside this North Loop restaurant is a throwback to another time. From the generous martini pours (like a milkshake, you get to keep the icy silver cup) to the servers uniforms. As the neon sign blinks, summer nights are even better spent on the patio digging into the mysteriously spiced, fat chicken wings.

16. Pizzeria Lola

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5557 Xerxes Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 424-8338
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Childhood tastes like Pizzeria Lola's build-your-own ice cream sandwich. Soft serve ice cream is topped with olive oil and sea salt and served with warm chocolate chip cookies. [Photo courtesy Trip Advisor]

17. Quang Restaurant

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2719 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 870-4739
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The most soothing soup made outside of your mama's kitchen. The family behind Quang's takes great care in the pho served here. [Eater]

18. Sonora Grill

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3300 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 722-2500
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Don't call it a taco. This is a caramelo: a chef inspired bite of beauty that you can purchase with couch change. [Photo by Joy Summers]

19. Sun Street Breads

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4600 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55419
(612) 354-3414
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A perfectly made biscuit is a thing of beauty. It's a blank canvas that can go sweet with homemade jam or savory with sausage, milk gravy. No one makes a better biscuit in this town than Solveig Tofte. [Photo courtesy Sun Street Bread Facebook page]

20. Taqueria Los Ocampo

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809 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 825-4978
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A sope topped with chicharron prensado holds all flavor desires within its small cornflour walls: succulent, spicy pork with crispy edges, cool crema, snappy radishes, a hot gooey interior and enough food to fill a person for hours afterwards.

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1. Travail Kitchen & Amusements

4124 West Broadway, Robbinsdale, MN 55422
There's one building and two concepts led by these mavericks of the local food scene. Travail is tasting menu only. Inside The Rookery, small bites are just a couple of dollars and rotate often. It's a fantastic way to taste what's on the edge of the culinary landscape.
4124 West Broadway
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

2. Sandcastle

4955 W Lake Nokomis Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55417
Summer is fleeting. Every warm day should be spent near the water with a little sand between your toes. There is no better way to toast that glorious orb in the sky than with an icy cold cup of Sandcastle's horchata. [Photo by Katie Cannon]
4955 W Lake Nokomis Pkwy
Minneapolis, MN 55417

3. Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

123 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401
All it takes is one swipe of this ultra creamy chickpea puree to realize you've never really tasted hummus before.
123 North 3rd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401

4. Kramarczuk's East European Deli

215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Nordeast might now be know as a hip kid draw, but there was time when this neighborhood was mostly Eastern European immigrants. The Old Word tastes are all available inside Kramarczuk's — specifically in the Polish sausage.
215 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414

5. Matt's Bar

3500 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Fear the molten cheese, but don't worry about running out of cash at this quintessential Minneapolis burger bar. Even if you don't believe that this was the original jucy lucy, it's hard to argue with beef on a bun at this price.
3500 Cedar Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407

6. 88 Oriental Foods Grocery

291 University Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN 55103
It only looks bright, crisp and refreshing, but digging into the green papaya salad served at the deli inside this University Avenue grocer, an unsuspecting eater will find the fury of juicy hellfire. It makes an unbearably hot summer day even better with the addition of a little fire within. Make sure to seek out this stand at the Little Mekong Night Market.
291 University Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55103

7. A Baker's Wife Pastry Shop

4200 28th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406
There's a veritable cult that's arisen around this fluffy cake doughnut tossed in cinnamon sugar. Converting costs less than a dollar. [Photo courtesy A Bakers Wife Facebook page]
4200 28th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55406

8. Colossal Café

1839 E 42nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
The name of this tiny restaurant might be ironic, but it also might refer to the sourdough pancakes.
1839 E 42nd St
Minneapolis, MN 55407

9. Dusty's Bar

1319 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
There's nothing fancy or trendy inside this working class bar, just an appreciation for a hard earned dollar. Get a cold pint of beer, a bump and a dago. Cooked right behind the bar on a flattop grill, the dago is sausage, peppers, onion and a slice of provolone cheese on a white bread bun. [Photo by Katie Cannon]
1319 Marshall St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

10. Isles Bun & Coffee

1424 W 28th St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Oh magical, gooey cinnamon roll, you deserve sonnets written about you. Sure, your cousin the doughnut is having a moment, but the twist of sweet dough, laced with that aromatic spice and topped with creamy, sweet icing remains a classic. [Photo courtesy Isles Bun Facebook page]
1424 W 28th St
Minneapolis, MN 55408

11. Jasmine Deli

2532 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
A banh mi is more than a simple sandwich, but all things wonderful about a midday meal. [Photo courtesy Jasmine Deli Facebook page]
2532 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404

12. La Loma Tamales

920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
The Oaxacan tamale from La Loma is so tender you'll banish all memory of other tamales after the first bite. [Photo courtesy La Loma Tamale Facebook page]
920 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407

13. Mancini's Char House & Lounge

531 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102
Mancini's has been serving generations of St. Paulites steak in style at this family owned spot on West 7th. Carb lovers delight with the application of bread to that heavily seasoned grill.
531 7th St W
Saint Paul, MN 55102

14. Maverick's

1746 Lexington Ave N, Roseville, MN 55113
Tender, blushing roast beef is piled on a pillowy bun and served with every condiment ever wished for. [Photo courtesy Yelp]
1746 Lexington Ave N
Roseville, MN 55113

15. Monte Carlo Restaurant

219 3rd Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Dining inside this North Loop restaurant is a throwback to another time. From the generous martini pours (like a milkshake, you get to keep the icy silver cup) to the servers uniforms. As the neon sign blinks, summer nights are even better spent on the patio digging into the mysteriously spiced, fat chicken wings.
219 3rd Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55401

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16. Pizzeria Lola

5557 Xerxes Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410
Childhood tastes like Pizzeria Lola's build-your-own ice cream sandwich. Soft serve ice cream is topped with olive oil and sea salt and served with warm chocolate chip cookies. [Photo courtesy Trip Advisor]
5557 Xerxes Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55410

17. Quang Restaurant

2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
The most soothing soup made outside of your mama's kitchen. The family behind Quang's takes great care in the pho served here. [Eater]
2719 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408

18. Sonora Grill

3300 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Don't call it a taco. This is a caramelo: a chef inspired bite of beauty that you can purchase with couch change. [Photo by Joy Summers]
3300 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406

19. Sun Street Breads

4600 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419
A perfectly made biscuit is a thing of beauty. It's a blank canvas that can go sweet with homemade jam or savory with sausage, milk gravy. No one makes a better biscuit in this town than Solveig Tofte. [Photo courtesy Sun Street Bread Facebook page]
4600 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55419

20. Taqueria Los Ocampo

809 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
A sope topped with chicharron prensado holds all flavor desires within its small cornflour walls: succulent, spicy pork with crispy edges, cool crema, snappy radishes, a hot gooey interior and enough food to fill a person for hours afterwards.
809 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Related Maps