The 10 best dishes for $1 in the Twin Cities

Eat well for less than it costs to ride the bus during non-rush hour

Eat well for less than it costs to ride the bus during non-rush hour

What will a dollar get you these days? 

A pessimist would say "not much," but we live in the Twin Cities so we know better. When it comes to cheap eats we are the ultimate optimists, going to extremes to stretch our budgets and make room for life's essential luxuries, from oysters to ice cream. How do we do it? We seek out the best bites our fair city has to offer for just a single simoleon. 

Here are the ten best $1 dishes in Minneapolis. Think of it as the dollar menu of your dreams. 

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10. Soft Serve Cone at Ikea
Few things make you more hungry (hungry + angry) than a Saturday spent shopping for affordable housewares, which is why the Ikea Bistro is such a lifesaver. The menu claims that their soft serve cone is actually frozen yogurt, but it's so good, so impossibly creamy, it just can't be a fat-free thing. It's precisely the sugar spike you need to continue your search for the easiest-to-put-together bedroom dresser.

9. Duo of Falafel at Wally's Falafel and Hummus
Wally's has been a Dinkytown staple for broke-ass students for years, but most people who don't venture near the East Bank may not know that Wally's has some of the crispiest, fluffiest, most flavorful falafel in town. Though it's customary to get the fried chickpea treats stuffed into a sandwich, you can also order balls a la carte -- great news for hungry cheapskates. Two hot, perfectly seasoned falafel will run you just a dollar. Eat them like savory donut holes while you're on the run to your next class. If you've got spare change, spring for a side of tahini or hot chili sauce for dipping.

8. Smack Fries at Smack Shack
This one is a little bit of a cheat since Smack Fries are available for the low low price of $1 during happy hour only (Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight). But these salty, Old Bay-dusted fries are such an ideal mate to a patio-season beer or cocktail that ordering a basket is pretty much imperative. The portion is big enough to share, but the cost is so minimal you can say "let me get this" with confidence when the bill arrives.

7. Fresh Strawberry Pie at Curran's Family Restaurant
Another entry in our Top 10 that comes with some caveats. Yes, Curran's slice-o-pie special only runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to close, but they offer that deal every single day. The pies at this long-established supper club-like Kingfield restaurant are actually not made in-house, but no matter. This is $1 pie, people. It has a rich, thin, buttery crust, filled with sweet shellacked strawberries and it's served with a hefty helping of whipped cream from a can. You cannot really complain. You can, however, make the mistake of ordering pretty much any other pie in the case.  

6. Pickle Satay at Ginger Hop
This is just a fancy frickle, really. It's State Fair food served in the proper State Fair fashion: on a stick. But because Ginger Hop is a pan-Asian restaurant, they have to call this delicious, tangy, briny, battered, and fried pickle on a wooden skewer a "satay." That is just fine by us as long as it comes with some dipping sauce (it does! Two kinds!) and the price is right. Two satay skewers cost $2 at Ginger Hop's happy hour (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday) which works out to be, you got it, just a dollar a pop. 

5. Dollar Dogs at Target Field  There is no better cheap eats kismet than getting to the front of the line at a Target Field concessions and realizing it's a Wednesday. You were all ready to shell out $7 for a Grain Belt Big Friendly, but you know what goes really well with sudsy local beer? Hot dogs. Cheap, plain, nitrate-rich hot dogs straight from the roller into your little paw. Slather one up with ketchup, relish, and mustard at the convenient condiment stations by Hennepin Grille or the Taste of Twin Territory stands (the only spots to get dollar dogs on dollar dog days) and challenge yourself to wait until you're re-seated to take your first bite. We double dollar dog dare you.

4. Colonel Mustard at Icehouse
The sheer novelty of this drink, a shot of whiskey squeezed right into your mouth from a mustard bottle, is the reason it ranks so high on our list. But the faint salt and sharpness of the mustard actually complements the booze. This buck beverage is available from the bar only, so belly up and say "ahh" then "mmm."

3. Bite of the Day at Terzo Vino Bar
Broders' excellent Italian wine bar has some of the best fancy snacks in the city. We love the option of starting with the ever-enticing, always-changing bite of the day which might be anything from a sphere of puff pastry, filled with Parmesan cream and crispy bits of speck and balanced with a splash of aged balsamic vinegar, to a mini goat cheese panna cotta, with heirloom tomato Italian Jell-o and itty bitty slivers of caramelized Cippolini onion. Yes, they fit all that stuff into a single delightful bite.

2. Barbacoa Taco at Las Teresitas
So this one is a little over a dollar -- $1.70 to be exact -- but it's oh so worth the extra change. Teresitas makes so many excellent authentic Mexican dishes, but their simple corn tortilla tacos are so packed with flavor they'll live in your memory (and on your breath) long after you eat them. The tender shredded Barbacoa is definitely our favorite, dressed simply with chopped raw onion and a few sprigs of cilantro.

1. Chocolate Chip at The RookeryThe Travail team's microplates-focused second act serves up about a thousand great little bites, but the decadent "chocolate chip" is easily their best dessert and it rings in at just $1. It's two squares of perfect, chewy chocolate chip cookies with a layer of salted caramel cream cheese in between them, dipped in dark chocolate fondue that hardens quickly, creating a candy coating that you have to bite through to reveal all the good stuff within. 

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