Megan Havig, MSUM Multimedia Journalism
Two notes before reading
- My total for each meal includes the tax
- At the bottom of this post I have a list of specials that downtown eateries offer. If you know of more that are not listed, comment on the post and I will gladly add them!
I present to myself a financially fiscal food challenge
I won’t lie. I love spending money on food. Despite my current college budget, I manage to squeeze in lunch dates with friends, night outings with whomever and the experimental food adventure with the significant other.
Also, true to my heart’s need for a big city get away and my stomach’s love for local joints, I tend to choose downtown Fargo’s offerings for on-the-town dining.
So I present to myself a challenge. With only a crisp ten-dollar bill, I will eat three meals downtown in one day.
Here is how it went.
Ten-dollar day in downtown Fargo succeeds.
Breakfast is a budget and belly blessing
Breakfast done right is pleasurable. Breakfast done right cheaply is borderline ecstasy. I begin with one of my favorite places to eat – First and Deli.
This little joint is located at 520 1st Ave North, right next to J.L. Beers. Eating at First and Deli is like eating at grandma’s abode. Homemade baked goods, soups made from scratch and fresh-baked bread can be enjoyed in a homey dining area. Vintage knick knacks crowd every nook, cozying up the restaurant. If you really like an item, you can buy it; the decorations are for sale.
I choose the cinnamon roll for $1.98. The woman calls out my order and sets a plate before my eyes. Cream cheese smothers the white fluffy roll beneath it. Heated up, the sweet confection glides down my throat.
Eating in downtown Fargo in the morning is a treat in itself. Bankers, accountants, lawyers, retailers and other pedestrians walk briskly to work. I feel like I am in a big city; I feel good.
Lunch is a gamble.
Lunch is tricky because there are many cheap options (see my tips section), but even the thrifty joints could bust my budget. I need a special to pull this off. Luckily for us college students, all 22,000 of us, there are places that offer dirt-cheap specials.
I head to Spicy Pie located at 322 North Broadway.
I will not only gamble money, but time. I need to order between 2 to 4 p.m. because I am digging for the deal: slices of pizza are $2.
I am conscious of the clock (usually not the case) and arrive during this pizza happy hour of sorts. I order a slice of cheese pizza and decide I can also splurge on a tostada, which is a flat taco shell smothered in mildly spicy red sauce and gooey cheese. The pizza is, of course, $2, and the tostada costs $1.80.
Spicy Pie is one of my personal favorite budget friendly food places in downtown Fargo. Often, college kids behind the counter can be seen tossing pizza dough in the air, prep it for the next order. Hefty wooden tables and booths consist of hodge podge items topped with clear finish. Popular music creates the mood for a young and lively atmosphere.
And everyone must know: The special white sauce offered here is delicious on anything. I love drizzling it on tostadas, I love dabbing it on pizza and I especially love pouring it on grinders (heated up sandwiches I highly recommend especially with taco meat on top).
The total of my meal with tax is $4.07
With $3.95 left, I must choose wisely.
Supper is free, drinks are extra.
Dempsey’s Public House located at 226 Broadway, offers drink and food specials almost every night. Providing free entertainment like open mic nights, karaoke and bingo, it is a great place for the aspiring singer or aspiring gambler for that matter.
My favorite Dempsey specials are $1 taco Wednesdays and free hot dog Thursdays.
On a Wednesday I can order a taco for $1 and a soda for $1.50 (wells, or cheap liquor drinks, are offered at $2.75 on Wednesdays as well, but I felt like drinking a soda). Hanging out with friends and enjoying dubstep music are a plus. (Listen to an example of a dubstep remix of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” here.)
My Wednesday night at Dempsey’s, with its loud music and fun games, only cost me $2.68.
This leaves me with $1.27 to leave for a tip.
With that, I have spent my $10 and can leave with an empty wallet and a full stomach.
Downtown deals attract college students
Facebook poll shows young adults’ favorite places.
I polled friends on Facebook about their favorite restaurants to see which ones would rank highest. Here are the results:
- Wasabi/Drunken Noodle: 4
- Bertrosa’s: 4
- Mezzaluna: 3
- Nicoles Fine Pastry: 3
- J.L. Beers: 2
- First and Deli: 2
- HoDo lunch: 2
- Rhombus Guys Pizza: 2
- Green Market: 2
“Josie’s Corner has the best chai tea in Fargo,” – Samantha Ham, an MSUM alum
“Wasabi. Sushi is delicious and is a great option when you have allergies to dairy, wheat or yeast, also known as, the SAD (standard American diet).” – Meghan Feir, a mass communications major at MSUM
Restaurants boast of fun and games:
- Rhombus Guys Pizza, 606 Main Ave, boasts of trivia on Monday nights, not to mention the never-ending fun of coloring on their paper table cloths
- Tea Berry, 119 Broadway N, provides board games for costumers
- Mezzaluna, a classy restaurant at 309 Roberts Street North has $7 appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. “It’s perfect for a date night,” Nikki Black, a teacher at Oak Grove School said.
- Dempseys offers specials every night but my favorites are the $1 tacos on Wednesdays and the free hot dogs (choose from a variety) on Thursdays
- The Sons of Norway Club, 722 2nd Avenue North, provides delicious homemade lefse for sale and special prices on homemade pies on Thursdays. A slice of pie costs $3.
- Chinese King House Buffet, 122 North Broadway, offers a dollar off for college students who present their I.D.