Allie’s Deli & Catering, Downtown Minneapolis

John Garland / Heavy Table

If you work in downtown Minneapolis, you probably have a favorite skyway spot to grab a deli sandwich. You’re busy. You don’t want anything fancy. You want bread, meat, and cheese. You want it quickly, because there’s a meeting in 15 minutes and you forgot to pack something this morning.

So you head to the nearest little stand outside the lobby, or a national sandwich chain just a few halls down. Maybe you go to Potbelly, in the halls that connect One Financial Plaza to the Rand Tower. You wait in line and look across the hall. What are all those people doing lining up at that plain looking counter? You don’t even see a sign — what is that place?

It’s called Allie’s Deli & Catering. You could walk by a thousand times without thinking twice about it. The signage is limited to a small chalkboard and the little deli doesn’t look like anything fancy. One could glance at the cooler of ready-made sandwiches and yogurt parfaits and suppose their food is on par with SuperAmerica’s.

But then, you might hear a name shouted at the counter. “Linda!” demands a woman in the general direction of the line. A paper bag is proffered. Linda grabs it, pays, and is gone in seconds. Then it happens again. Regulars are calling in their orders in advance. You realize this place has a devoted base. This is no convenience store.

Our advice: Get to Allie’s early. We quite like the simple Breakfast Sandwich #1 ($3), a standard fried egg, pepper jack, and sausage patty on an English muffin. It’s heartwarming, a bit greasy, and tasty as hell. No, it’s not the finest McMuffin simulacrum in Minneapolis. But it’s most certainly worth skipping the arches for.

Or better yet, just grab a coffee and peruse their scones ($2). They come straight from the oven to the counter, and up to 20 different varieties are offered daily. We quite enjoyed the four-berry and white chocolate version. The texture is moist and tender — somewhere on the more crumbly side of a muffin top. So not an uber-traditional scone, per se, but nonetheless delectable.

John Garland / Heavy Table

Also unique for being in the skyway is the pricing, which is terribly reasonable. During lunch, half sandwiches are $3.50, full ones are $6. On a recent visit, we tried an Allie’s Chicken Salad and New York Style Deli. Both are the standard, competent deli sandwiches you’d hope to receive. Though “New York Style” makes one think the corned beef will be egregiously stacked, it’s just a few slices with Swiss on pumpernickel.

Wouldn’t it be tempting for any skyway deli to order some industrial bagged soups, warm them up, and offer them alongside their sandwiches as a complete afterthought? It was the homemade soups that initially endeared us to Allie’s. The chicken wild rice ($3.50 / cup), though a bit shy on the wild rice, is an otherwise hearty and wonderful rendition.

If you show up at noon you’ll be looking at a line about two dozen deep. But on all of our visits Allie’s moved customers through at a furious clip. Sandwiches came out so quickly that we assumed bags handed to us must be meant for someone closer to the register.

And in a retail environment where time equals money even more than usual, kudos to the owners and staff for being incredibly friendly on all our visits. So give Allie’s a shot sometime. Sit at one of their few tables, gaze across the hallway at Potbelly, and wonder if the people eating there know what they’re missing only a few feet away.

Allie’s Deli & Catering
527 Marquette Ave, Ste 205
Minneapolis, MN 55402
612.333.6425
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7am-2:30pm

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About the Author

John Garland

John Garland is a freelance writer living in the East Isles neighborhood of Minneapolis. His area of expertise is wine - thanks to schooling from the International Sommelier Guild and more than a few winery visits during his time at the American University of Rome. He also contributes to Beer Dabbler's Growler Magazine and is always available for writing opportunities and happy hours.

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9 Comments

  1. Reyn Williams08/17/2012Reply

    The writer is straining to make someplace truly average sound interesting–perhaps to show some sort of reverse snobbery, who knows? But it’s not up to Heavy Table’s usually high standards. I work in several floors above Allie’s. It is a friendly, owner-operated skyway lunch counter that is a nice switch-up from the chains, but the food is bland, the ingredients are a long way from top quality, and by all means go, but don’t think you’re going for anything special.

  2. MorchellaMpls08/17/2012Reply

    Thanks for highlighting a family owned business surviving in a sea of franchises. The food is decent but the very best thing about Allie’s is the people. You can get a sandwich anywhere but a sandwich with a smile sure is a gift on a busy workday. (Note to author: look up simulacrum.)

  3. Average is relative. I can’t speak to their lunch, but I would take a scone from Allie’s over anything in the pastry case at Caribou, Dunn Bros, or Starbucks, much less the rocks we get catered in from Panera or D-Brians.

  4. I think Allie’s has the best scones around, specifically their banana chocolate chip. Their other scones are good, but this particular is just out of this world good (and I consider myself to be a scone snob).
    As far as comments stating their mediocrity, if you order a turkey sandwich, you’re going to get a turkey sandwich. There’s just not as much scope for an amazing turkey sandwich as there is for something like foie gras or steak tartare, so I find it hard to understand how something like that can be “bland.” Their sandwiches taste really fresh, packed with veggies and way more affordable than what you find elsewhere.

  5. I live out in Spring Lake Park and I work at home, but I make at least 3 trips a week all the way to downtown to get their strawberry chicken wrap and a scone for lunch. Yeah, it takes a good hour (or more) to go and come back, but it is so worth it.

  6. Emily Nystrom08/17/2012Reply

    While “simulacrum” can mean “an insubstantial form or resemblance of something,” its primary meaning is simply “image or representation.” The usage makes sense.

    Emily Nystrom
    Copy Editor
    The Heavy Table

  7. Eatlikethat08/17/2012Reply

    They have a savory breakfast scone with spinach, cheese and bacon that is really special. And they are great for catered corporate lunch, friendly, easy to deal with and quite reasonable. Everything I have ever had there has been top notch. Glad they finally got some recognition!

  8. Allies’ tomato dill soup is on my last-meal-on-earth list. It is SO good.
    I emailed the owners begging for the recipe and they were kind enough to write back with the general ingredients (no measurements). Alas, it wasn’t as good at home.

    Thank you for featuring a great skyway gem operated by great people, even though you’re going to make our line longer!

  9. i’ve always wondered about this place. i almost ordered a breakfast sandwich there once but turned away upon realizing that they used microwaves to heat them up.

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