Allie's Deli and Catering: solid skyway lunch
Directly across from one another in the Minneapolis skyway are two fast-paced sandwich places, one is the chain restaurant, Potbelly; the other is Allie's Deli and Catering. The lunch hour at Allie's (527 Marquette Ave.) is bustling -- people pick out ready-made lunches and snacks from the grab-to-go cooler. Others place requests for made to order salads and sandwiches. You have a lot of freedom to tweak your order at Allie's - they are ready to accommodate -- yet, nothing seems to put a snag in the pace. Lunches are quickly made and served and you're on your way in a timely fashion. The staff is quite knowledgeable and friendly. At the checkout counter, customers are often greeted by name and thanked for their business.
Allie's offers solid American fare. On a recent visit, I was thrilled by their cantaloupe stuffed chicken salad ($3.99 small, $5.48 large). The chicken salad was delicious, possibly addictive, and had just the right amount of pepperiness and texture from diced celery. The large scoopful of the chicken salad is stuffed into a quarter of a cantaloupe. The sweet melon is a refreshing addition to the chicken salad and the more typical romaine lettuce, carrot and celery sticks that come in the dish. Similarly, I was pleased by the bag of homemade seasoned croutons handed to me when I paid for my order. The croutons are made from a variety of breads and added a zesty crunch to my salad.
Less thrilling, but still solid items included my Allie's delight sandwich ($3.26 half, $5.43 whole). The sandwich consisted of sliced turkey, roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts with Italian dressing on multigrain bread. While the sandwich tasted fine, I was a little disappointed in the processed meats. (The homemade chicken salad had set the bar high.) Also, the Italian dressing seemed to be present only on part of my sandwich, leaving the middle a bit dry. Still, the sandwich was hearty - full of multiple thick slices of meat. The bread was thick-cut, soft, and nutritious (visibly full of different grains) while tasty.
A variety of soups are made daily at Allie's including navy bean, chicken wild rice, and beef chili. I ordered a cup of chicken noodle soup and was pleased with the slow-cooked chicken, chopped carrots, celery, and lots of flat noodles. The broth could have used a tad more salt to bring the flavors out, but again, all in all, a solid choice. Soup-sandwich/salad combos are a popular option for the lunchtime crowd. A half-sandwich and cup of soup will run you $5.21, while a half-sandwich and bowl of soup is only a little more, at $5.89.
Allie's offers a variety of homemade desserts - butterscotch cookies, lemon bars, brownies, and Rice Krispy bars, but I went for one of the yogurt, granola, and fruit cups ($2.45). I wasn't disappointed. The granola included oats, toasted coconut and sunflower seeds, and the fruit included semi-frozen raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. The combination of the cool, smooth treat worked on all levels -- the creaminess of the yogurt with the crunchiness of the granola, the mild sweetness of the yogurt, with the more concentrated sweetness of the fruit. The snack definitely made me want to return for another, perhaps to try a different variety of the fruit-yogurt combination, such as Allie's strawberry-pineapple yogurt cup.
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