My very first night living in DC, I grabbed take-out food from a Dominican restaurant around the corner from my apartment. Just a big ol’ plate of pork, rice, and beans. You know, the kind of food hobos eat in the movies. Being in a new city can be scary, but that box of greasy goodness let me know that everything was going to be okay. It also got me thinking. I had a lot of bomb-ass meals with FDC, but when it comes to favorite restaurants, it’s really all about the affordable places you go back to again and again. These are, indisputably, the best 10 restaurants for cheap eats in Minneapolis.
10. Our Kitchen: Your classic greasy spoon diner. The hash browns are drenched in butter. There are about 12 seats total. The kitchen staff have really strange, seemingly rehearsed banter with each other. Lots of random homeless people wander in and out looking for a free cup of coffee. This place is basically dynamite, and excellent hangover fare to scarf down while re-living the night before.
9. Dulono’s Pizza: I drove past Dulono’s hundreds of times during my four years living in Uptown. I didn’t make it there until a few months before I left town. Not only is the pizza pretty tasty, but there are two-for-one drinks all day, every day. A goofy gimmick? Absolutely. But those who know me know that I am a sucker for a blatantly obvious alcohol gimmick. I’m still not over the mountains on Coors Light cans.
8. Ted Cook’s 19th Hole BBQ: Drew’s Theory of BBQ Quality states that the deliciousness of BBQ is directly proportional to the amount of BBQ sauce covering the aprons of the employees. Ted Cook’s is the main evidence I have behind this theory. In a city severely lacking in good barbecue, Ted Cook’s is a beacon of hope.
7. Lake Wine & Cheese: Another lesson in the importance of truly knowing your neighborhood. How many times did I go into this liquor store to grab beer and pass by the tiny little sandwich stand tucked in the back of the cheese shop? Infinity too many. This was another one I didn’t end up trying until right before leaving town. One night I snagged a pesto roast beef and a turkey apple sandwich. Both were so, so good. Fresh ingredients, great bread, super well balanced. Apparently they got such a following that Terminal 2 at MSP is opening up a second stand. In other words if I ever move back to Minneapolis I will be living in the airport.
6. Victor’s 1959 Cafe: Cuban brunch? Basically a no brainer. I tend to trust places where there’s always a wait for a table. The fried eggs are always super runny, and combining breakfast with fresh fruit, rice, beans, and fried plantains is one of humanity’s greatest achievements.
5. Taco Cat: When driving, I have an alter ego that has been dubbed Old Man Drew. The most common target of my grumpy rage? The thousands of bikers in Minneapolis riding around like they own the place. Among the herd, however, are the noble crew from Taco Cat, delivering greasy goodness via bike across Uptown. The salsas and the proteins and the everything are packed with flavor. I regret never being awake and coherent early enough on the weekend to order the breakfast burritos.
4. World Street Kitchen: I tend to look down on people that never change up their order at certain restaurants. If I find something I like, that’s usually a sign for me that there are probably other good things to try at that restaurant. WSK is an exception to the rule. There is basically no reason to expand your horizons here. Their Korean short rib bowl is one of the greatest lunch dishes of all time. Tender short rib, spicy kim chi, fried eggs, and that mystery sauce? It’s really hard to stray from that.
3. Wendy’s: Yes, the nation’s capital has Wendy’s, but it’s the middle of winter, I just sold my car, and it’s a 20 minute walk to get it. I know, life is hard.
2. Blue Door Pub: Minneapolis has some seriously great burgs, and Blue Door Pub is the one I miss the most. It may not be the best burger in town (although it is still very very good), but it is definitely my favorite. I never knew that I needed the option to add peanut butter and bacon to any burger I wanted, but it is something I miss very much.
1. Lu’s Sandwiches: Lu’s, Lu’s, Lu’s. To think, four years ago I didn’t even know what a bahn mi sandwich was. Lu’s became my ultimate comfort food. Shitty day at work? I’ll treat myself to Lu’s. Just beat the Elite 4 in my 25th play through of Pokemon? Ya damn right I’m going to Lu’s. Hungry for Lu’s? Uh yeah…Lu’s. The french bread for the sandwiches is perfectly crispy, and the ingredients are always fresh. You never know if you’re going to get a dud of a jalapeno or one that destroys your taste buds, a culinary Russian Roulette that I found pretty enjoyable. And that homemade mayo? The wizards at Lu’s knew the way to my heart. Never has the five dollar bill been put to such good use, something that would make Abe Lincoln proud. Lu’s: purveyor of great sandwiches, patriots.