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MSP- Need a recommendation: inexpensive place - good food.

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My dilemma- my parents are in town and want to treat my wife and me to dinner. They would be most comfortable spending around $15 an entree. My wife is a pretty good cook, and doesn't like spending money at places where she could make the meal herself, which means we usually go out less often but send more money on a meal.

Where can we get a unique dining experience at a reasonable price? My mom is not adventurous in what she eats, but the rest of is are. Anyone got anything that fits the bill? Looking preferably in St. Paul or south suburbs, though East Minneapolis would be okay.

Thanks!

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  1. I would recommend Town Talk Diner on Lake St. in Southeast Minneapolis. Entree's top out at $18 and are both interesting and delicious. Always a great place to stop when in S. Minneapolis.

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    Town Talk Diner
    2707 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

    1. What's your definition of "south suburbs"? If that includes Apple Valley area, I would suggest Ronin Sushi Cafe (actually just into Lakeville), which actually is a combo of sushi/Japanese and Thai influence. I've taken groups of parents/mixed adventurousness parties and it was universally loved.

      In St. Paul, Tanpopo is inexpensive and has many items that would be high-quality but approachable for the non-adventurous while still satisfying those that want something out-of-the-ordinary.

      Town Talk is a good recommendation for non-ethnic food. Same with a place like Highland Grill but that's getting closer to home-cooked. I like to take mixed crowds to Punch in St. Paul -- not revolutionary but a warm, inviting atmosphere and simple pizzas and salads with excellent quality ingredients. In my mind, that's one of the best bargains in MSP for price to quality ratio.

      If any branch of this is going in the right direction, let us know. There are a million good places like this.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MSPD

        Town Talk fits the bill...something along that lines.

        Punch is always good, though my Dad doesn't eat pizza.

        Anything Asian is probably out for both my parents.

        Good suggestions so far - even if we don't go with my parents, I'll keep them in mind for other times.

        1. re: msuspar10

          Doesn't eat pizz...wait what!?

          Will they eat Central/South American (mexican) food? If they won't eat ANY asian food or at one of the best pizza places in the midwest, chances are they'll find anything south of fajitas too "exotic" though perhaps there is still hope.

          Jay's Cafe, St Claire Broiler or maybe D'Amico on Grand because Muffuletta and Salut are outside the budget and everything else would likely skew too ethnic.

          However, if you can talk them into Tanpopo...that is a great suggestion.

          1. re: msuspar10

            I have only one concern about Town Talk: acoustics. My SO does not hear well and Town Talk and places like it are a challenge for him. (Although, I would have to say, he is always a trooper about it. Not sure I would be.) So if there are any concerns about hearing and acoustics, look at other options (unless things have somehow changed at Town Talk).

        2. Pop!! (the one with two exclamation points) fits your specs well. I think the food is good and the prices are right.

          How about a good pizza place? Savoys is always a favorite (or hated).

          A jucy lucy at the Nook?

          1. You may find some helpful suggestions in this thread, The Cheap Fancypants Food Challenge:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/345700

            1. Maybe something like Brasa in NE Mpls could work. Things are family style so unless you are all "big eaters" you could enjoy a couple of meat choices (Chicken, Pork and Beef) and number of sides for that kind of price per person. I think it would meet your "unique dining experience" requirement but still have food on the menu that Mom understands.

              Good Luck!

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              Brasa Rotisserie
              600 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

              1. I would throw in Al Vento. Really good food at reasonable prices, in the S. Minneapolis area.

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                Al Vento
                5001 34th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55417

                5 Replies
                1. re: BigE

                  How about Hot Plate? Cheap, good comfort food that would please the parents.

                  1. re: pgokey

                    Is Hot Plate open for dinner?

                    1. re: MSPD

                      It was at one point - don't know if they still are.

                      1. re: pgokey

                        Thanks pgokey...what do you know....I bit the bullet and called. First of all, they have a web site! www.hotplatediner.com I'm no web guru, but they could probably stand to get some advice on improving the Google search results.

                        Indeed, they have dinner on Thursday - Saturday. Burgers, salads, sandwiches.

                  2. re: BigE

                    I was going to mention Al Vento. All their pastas are under $15, and I can't imagine anyone disliking their spaghetti and meatballs, but according to the website, boar is on the menu as well.

                  3. the new Cheeky Monkey in st paul would seem to fit your bill nicely. its nicely decorated, the food is quite good and you could definitely come in under 15 bucks a head, even with a drink or two and some desserts.

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                    Cheeky Monkey Deli
                    525 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                      Perhaps a little later for the original poster, but I recommend Primo on Lyndale around 52nd. Good solid Italian neighborhood restaurant that understands how food should taste, and doesn't make a big deal about it.

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