One thing about being a single dad, you learn where to eat for cheap.  You have to.  Kids aren't really that picky, but unfortunately, I am.  Listed below, 10 places where the food is good, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg.  Consider this somewhat of a "Ty James Eating Guide for the St. Cloud Area."

In descending order, here goes:


Dairy Queen -- DQ's where you can get burgers, hot dogs, fries, onion rings, chicken sandwiches, etc., are by far the best of the fast food places.  Of course, you're going to get a Blizzard, Banana Split, or something for dessert, too.  Kids love Dairy Queen -- and most parents know that this is a place where you ALWAYS get a lot of 'bang for the buck'.  There is no better chili dog, seriously.

9. Perkins (for breakfast only) -- Admittedly, I'm not a big Perkins guy, after 10 a.m. 

But Perkins is still the spot for a relatively cheap breakfast, that will certainly fill you up.  Anyone familiar with the "Tremendous 12" knows what I'm talking about.

8. IHOP -- OK, this one goes way back to my childhood in California.  My mom, grandma, and I would often go for IHOP breakfast on the weekends.  Decent prices, and Waite Park ain't that far, for the BEST PANCAKES EVER, PERIOD!  (My fave is the chocolate chip pancakes.)

7. Erbert & Gerbert's -- A Minnesota tradition.  Cheap sandwiches (I like the Tappy), and good soup and chili.  Plus, Erbert and Gerbert's will deliver.  Quick, too.  Can never go wrong, here! (Try the Pudder with strawberry jelly and peanut butter for dessert!)


Applebee's -- Of all the restaurant chains, and wannabe sports bar types, Applebee's is always a good choice.  One of the very few places where; the whole family eats, mom and dad have a few drinks, everybody gets dessert, STILL UNDER $50.  And you'll probably be bringing food home.  Not bad!

5. Keith's Kettle -- I always tell people to go to Keith's Kettle.  Everything is very reasonably priced, and the menu is quite extensive.  Breakfast is served all day, but dinner is fantastic, and there is a complete menu for kids and seniors.  C' mon, Clearwater is only ten minutes away.

4. Guadalajara -- The prices at all of our nicer Mexican restaurants are very similar - but the food is not.  Guadalajara has the best, and certainly the most authentic, Mexican Food in St. Cloud, bar none.  This happens to be my field of expertise, being the Latino I am, so believe this, if nothing else.  Super friendly staff, too.

3. Bonanza -- Another place that I can NEVER drag my 10 year old son out of.  Steak, seafood, or chicken, plus the salad bar, and dessert bar, that is enormous.  Everyone in the family will love something.  Bonanza is truly a favorite of people of all ages.  P.S. - the line moves faster than you think, too.

2. Any Chinese Buffet -- There are two very good ones in our area; The Super Buffet (East Side), and China Star (Waite Park), are both excellent.  Anyone that loves chinese food - would LOVE either of these places.  The chicken egg foo yung at Super Buffet, is to die for!

1. Val's Rapid Serve  -- Why not make our #1 a true St. Cloud legend.  Do you know ANYONE that doesn't like Val's?  Me neither.  Burgers, fries, and shakes - just like they must have tasted 50 years ago.  Addictive, does not even begin to describe the "Val's Craving" that some of us have been known to get.  And as cheap of a lunch as you will find anywhere.

Now keep in mind, this is MY list.  What's on YOUR list for the best cheap restaurants in the area -- and tell us why!

Gotta go -- I'm starvin'!