Churchka's quick report in a thread about Craftsman restaurant (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37520...) started me thinking (once again), about places I need to try, or that I should frequent, well, more frequently. When we're looking for an affordable spontaneous meal, we usually end up at a burger joint, like the Nook, or at one of the Longfellow/Highland siblings. But, even at Longfellow, you're going to drop $9-$11 for a burger or for a salad. http://www.longfellowgrill.com/menu.htm While I think these places do a fine job for what they are, I think I could eat better, particularly if I wanted to place an emphasis on meals prepared with locally-sourced, artisanal ingredients.
So, what's the best way to do that, but still stay at the $12 and under price range for your main dish?
Churchka mentioned having just the burgers at Craftsman because of wanting to keep the meal affordable; when I looked at their menu online, I saw they offered pizzas for $10 and under http://www.craftsmanrestaurant.com/di.... The burgers and the pizzas are in the $10-$11 range--and these are prepared using locally-sourced, often organic, ingredients.
112 Eatery has several dishes (mostly sandwiches) under $10, the bacon egg & harrisa sandwich and the gougère & fried mortadella sandwich, and, of course, the burger. http://www.112eatery.com/menu.htm But, it's hard to get into 112 Eatery without a reservation, though, you could try getting there early and eating at the bar.
The wine bar at Heartland offers charcuterie in the $10-$12 range, and salads for only $8 http://www.heartlandrestaurant.com/ (click on "view bar menu" nearish to the lower left hand side of the page) The wine bar seems to be trying to appeal to those who aren't up for the full fine dining experience, but still want to have a meal prepared from locally-sourced ingredients. I like this idea, that in the Wine Bar, they have a specific focus on serving smaller plates at reduced prices, specifically to serve the casual, more "every day" market.
So, if you know where and when to go, and what to order, you could eat this way "every day." Does anyone have more ideas of fine dining restaurants, or restaurants focusing on the highest-quality organic and locally-sourced, artisanal ingredients where one could go in the Twin Cities for every day dining, without planning ahead so far that you'd need reservations, but at the low-end of the price scale, say, $12 and under for your main dish? When are the best times and days of the week? Maybe they offer specials on their slower nights? (Please add your comments to the secrets of dining at Heartland, 112 Eatery and Craftsman, as well as others I haven't mentioned). Places where they welcome having you order the smaller, less expensive dishes as your meal?
Ideas? Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts and experiences.