Friday, February 6, 2009

Frugal Fridays: Soup @ Specialties

Last month, I had a misstep with Frugal Fridays at Specialties Bakery, thanks to a minor math error on my part. I ordered a Peanut Butter & Stuff sandwich (peanut butter, cranberry sauce, bananas, and apples on whole wheat bread), thinking it would be under $5 after tax. Unfortunately, it came to $5.09 - causing my first struggle with whether I should draw the line at $5 before or after tax. After careful consideration, I decided after tax was more meaningful, and finding those lunch spots would be more of a challenge. So PB & Stuff was out.

However, Specialties does have a menu item I regularly get for lunch that does come in at under $5. Their medium soup is 12 ounces, and comes with a roll for $4.82 after tax. They always have two soup flavors to choose from at each location, and one of the two is always vegan or vegetarian. Even better, you can check out what the soup flavors are online for any of their stores in your area (or in other states, if that interests you) - even checking out what the soups will be several days in advance - so you can plan which location to go to on which day. For instance, if the 3-Bean Salsa & Cream of Potato Bacon Cheddar available at their Columbia Center location don't sound good, you could always walk a few blocks to the shop at 3rd & Spring for Mexican Chicken or Corn Chowder... or you could walk to 5th and Union for Black Bean or Cream of Chicken with Artichoke Hearts... or you could grab the bus tunnel to the International District location to pick up some Chicken with Cheese Tortellini or Tomato Lentil (V). You can also pre-order online for pickup, and even for delivery. Getting soup (rather than a sandwich or salad) at Specialties also is a quick in-and-out affair. You won't be given a beeper and left to wait with a crowd of other hungry folks - which can feel like an eternity during lunch rush.

Today, the 3-Bean Salsa sounded good to me. It includes kidney and black beans in a tomato based stock, with plenty of garlic and spices. Although my middle school Home Economics teacher taught us that 'hearty' is a buzzword with no specific meaning, and we should be wary of advertising using that word - I feel compelled to describe the soups at Specialties as hearty. They're dense with flavor, seasoned well, thick, warm, and they fill you up. I would call that hearty.

And if you feel like splurging on that extra 9 cents, the Peanut Butter & Stuff ain't half-bad, either.

(Frugal Fridays is a weekly series dedicated to finding Seattle lunch spots where you can walk in with a $5 bill and walk out with a fulfilling, preferably healthy, lunch. If you have suggestions of places in the Seattle area with a great lunch for under $5 after tax, post a comment - I'd love the help.)

Specialty's Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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