Monday, June 1, 2009

Almost-Free Lunches

Flashback to Wednesday: There’s $5.35 in my wallet, and lunch is long overdue. Something quick, something tasty, and something thrifty, yes? Sure, $5.35 will buy you six days’ worth of sodium and fat (not to mention bloat) at your average fast food chain, but much finer fare can be found if you know where to look. Here’s a list of my favorite almost-free St. Paul lunches.

Lunches under $5!

New Asia 474 Lexington Pkwy N St. Paul, MN 55104

Between the hours of 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, you can buy an entire meal for $4.95. This includes an entrée (I recommend chicken with broccoli), white or fried rice, and your choice of soup, cream cheese wontons, or an egg roll. Take care to notice the stuffed animals, bead curtains, and wild horse mural that add to the classic St. Paul Midway atmosphere. Just bear in mind- it’s not the service that keeps me coming back.

Java Train 1341 Pascal St. St. Paul, MN 55108

This adorable, snob-free coffee shop serves up great deals on lunch throughout the week.

With specials like Wednesday’s Turkey Artichoke Panini at only $4.50, you can afford to get that large iced mocha to get you through your afternoon. Or, spend that extra change on an itsy-bitsy ice cream cone for just .75 in flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy. Check out for a full menu including daily specials.

Above: Java Train's Tuesday Lunch Special

Cleveland Wok 767 Cleveland Ave S. St. Paul, MN 55116

Get the area’s best lunch buffet to go. Located in an area a bit more quaint than New Asia, this restaurant draws customers from all walks of life to their 11-3 pm lunch buffet. For $3.99/lb, you can stuff Chinese take-out boxes full of buffet food. Or, for a little over $5, you can dine in and enjoy multiple trips to the buffet. Parking is on-street and scarce, but the walk will be worth it!

Acme Deli 1552 St. Clair Ave. St. Paul, MN 55105

Acme deli lets you customize your sandwich using a clear, foolproof, pencil-and-paper ordering system. Meat sandwiches start at $4.60, veggie sandwiches at $3.90. (Mustard aficionados beware- only yellow is available.) For an extra $1.50, Acme will deliver your sandwich to any location in the St. Paul area. Fast, convenient and delicious. See for the complete menu.

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