The burger: There are plenty of burgers to be had at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, but the one that stands out in the cacophony is the El Cheapo version at the Midway Mens Club.

How inexpensive? A straight-up burger is $2.25. Add cheese and it’s $2.50.

That’s up a quarter from the last time I raved about this gem of a stand, which was during the 2013 fair. A quarter, in four years  

Sure, as burgers go, it’s not much. If a Midway burger and a basic McDonald’s burger were placed side by side, I wonder if I’d be able to tell them apart. There's a thin (very), diner-style patty -- it gets the heck fried out of it on a flat top grill -- and a plain (very) soft white bun. And little else.  

Sometimes, that's all that's required. but others need a little more love with their burgers, and the Midway Mens Club aims to please. Here's the key: when asked about onions, the smart response is “yes,” and by all means, opt for the fried version. When the subject turns to pickles, the fallback should also be a big, fat "Yes."

And cheese. A melty, salty slice of American is worth the 25-cent investment.

You were expecting more? At these prices? That's so not happening at the fair, where I was shocked by the blithe number of over-$10 prices for standard (but mostly substandard) fare. But, come on, a fairgrounds burger for $2.25? And a cheeseburger for $2.50? State Fair deals are a few-and-far-between situation. Which is why, when discovered, they must be taken to their full advantage.

There’s a bonus to dining at the Midway Mens Club: the proceeds benefit youth programs in St. Paul’s Midway area.

“That used to mean ‘boy’s athletics,’” said 20-year member Dave Dahl. “But we’re way beyond that now.”

They sure are. In the past year, the 200-member club has provided more than $65,000 in financial support – raised at the State Fair -- for the area library, a bicycle rebuilding program, woodworking training, the Central High School robotics team, Girl Scouts and more.

The club dates to 1960, when it grew out of the men’s club at St. Columba Church.

“The priest at the time decided – and I don’t have enough history to know why – that it wasn’t right for the church to make money selling beer at the fair,” said Dahl. “That’s when a bunch of members decided they would form the Midway Mens Club, and buy the fair stand from the church.”

What I’ve always appreciated about the club is their commitment to modest prices, which allows fairgoers of all budgets to step away from the craziness, sit down and enjoy a burger (or a $2.50 hot dog, or a $1.50 Pepsi) and a beer: a 12-oz. tap of Grain Belt is $3.50, and a 12-oz. Summit Extra Pale Ale is $4.50.

“Some of our members have said that we have the cheapest – and the coldest – beer at the fair,” said Dahl. That's the kind of news-you-need-to-know that's not readily available at the fair's handy Food Finder.

Price: The aforementioned $2.25 and $2.50. Double up on the patty and it's $3 and $3.50, respectively. 

Fries: Nope. A single-serving bag ot potato chips is a buck. 

Address book: Underwood Street between Wright and Dan Patch avenues.

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