Best non traditional “fast casual” restaurants

Posted: December 6, 2021


Go global: Expand your options when looking for a quick meal

Obviously, everyone needs to eat, but why not supply your body with some of the best affordable, high-quality food? Everyone is familiar with “fast-casual” restaurants such as Chipotle, Five Guys, and Noodles & Co., but If you’re looking for something new you’re in the right place. Minneapolis and St. Paul have some excellent fast-casual restaurants featuring Mediterranean, Indian, Afro, and Latin American soul food. Here are a few worth visiting.

Starting us off with some spice, you would be pleased to hear about this flavorful restaurant right next to Franklin and West River Parkway. Curry in a Hurry offers to-go and online orders, and they also deliver. Due to COVID-19, they are not allowing customers to dine in. Right as you walk through the door a strong smell of amazing curry rushes past you. The menu contains different types of tikka masala, curry, and paneer. Quantities of food fill the large bowls, enough for two to share! The employees are very friendly and able to help you with any questions you need. If you don’t enjoy spice, they also sell salad bowls and a few different lentil bowls. For spice lovers, all of the red curries have a little heat in them, but the ones marked spicy are extremely hot, just to warn you! There was a little bit of a wait for the food but it was definitely worth it. Although the store was not open to eating inside, the food was still amazing. I would definitely recommend this restaurant for anyone looking for a big meal to eat that is loaded with some immense flavors.

A must-have is The Naughty Greek, which has three locations. I visited the one on University Avenue in St. Paul, near Highway 280. Right as you walk through the doors you’re greeted by such a friendly staff. As the employees were taking my order one man said, “The Loukoumades are a favorite of the customers and the staff.” An online article I read before visiting described them in a way that was more than fitting: “The dessert “call me fluffy” has the perfect amount of lightness but sweetness and it is complemented with the toppings that they place in cinnamon and honey.” The restaurant was surprisingly very cheap; you could get a full meal between the prices of $5 and $15. All of the food is fresh and warm. Only five minutes after I ordered my food, it was brought out to me. In that little wait, the restaurant is filled with comfortable chairs and booths to fit your comfort preference. But enough about the look, the food was absolutely amazing. Everything tasted fresh and the large variety of sauces were very fun to try. They are known for their hot crisp “Naughty fries.” Overall I think this place should definitely be one of the options when you’re looking for a quick bite to eat.

Now we all know how everyone loves tacos and burritos and salad bowls, but have you tried Roti? They have a variety of signature meals, sides, and CYO’s (create your own) for under $15. Roti has a few Twin Cities locations, and the one near the University of Minnesota was busy when I visited, but we were still able to get our food in about six minutes. Overall the restaurant was very clean and had a very open layout. The food was very good and all of the signature meals looked and tasted great! The food was very flavorful and included a variety of different toppings, rice, and salads. Roti also offers many vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free meals.

A favorite of many people I have talked with is Afro Deli and Grill which also has a few locations around the cities, including one at the U of M right down the street from Roti. The large variety in menu options makes this an amazing place to visit. Every meal I tried had such a great depth of flavor. They also have some delicious desserts! Because of the location, there isn’t always a place to park, which means you might have to take a short walk to get there. The central Minneapolis location is a lot bigger and has more dine-in seating, too. Many ethnic foods from all over are included in the menu, along with vegetarian and gluten-free options. All of the staff was welcoming and very friendly. They were very engaged in conversation and wanted to get to know you a bit. I have been here many times, so this restaurant is definitely the first I would recommend to a friend. The meals range from $6 to $9. The food was delicious, affordable, and came in large portions. Something that is unforgettable is the gyro dipping sauce; it’s most definitely a must-have!

Throughout this adventure, I have had a chance to talk with many others that love food along the way! All of the restaurants I was able to visit were great and I spoke to some others that have visited them and they had the same experience as I. The customer service was great, the food was affordable, and it tasted delicious. These are some great places that you should check out next time you’re hungry for something new.

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