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.
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
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7am-2:30pm