And no, I am not ashamed of it.

Before you’re finished reading this article, you too will want to go as well.

You might think that I am a cheap, miserly, no-good husband, who doesn’t love his wife as much as he loves Swedish meatballs; but you’d be wrong. Why am I so certain that you’re assumption of where our date night took place is incorrect? Three things:

A. You are lacking the fact that my wife either suggests this or is totally jazzed to go.

3. IKEA has amazing food.

And Z. I don’t like meatballs.

Yes, a place that misplaces that one dowel you need or gives you two left legs has some of the healthiest food at a price that is hard to ignore. And yes, my wife and I are strange in this way, but we also enjoy Ken Burns documentaries and typography… so it fits.

What are some of the items you can buy in the IKEA cafeteria that isn’t meatballs?

  • Smoked salmon
  • Smoked salmon sandwich
  • Wedge salad
  • Harvest salad
  • Veggie balls with lentil and tomato sauce
  • Ribs with macaroni and cheese
  • Double chocolate cake
  • Almond dark chocolate cake

The average price per dish is about $5 or $6 dollars, and for food that is organic-ish and cooked fresh, that is an amazing deal. In order to eat this very good and reasonable food one simply must have the ability to swallow their pride and pretension.

No, this place isn’t swanky or hip, but it has a vibe that I dig and that’s one of utility. The space is laid out in such a way that it is easy to navigate and find whatever you need to enjoy your eating experience.

From a design standpoint, it’s pretty damn cool.

The eating experience at IKEA is unique because it mixes the cafeteria style familiar to most college student unions and a dead style of serving: The automat. If you don’t know what that is, please see the image below:

Thanks Automat.net

Watch Dark City, because it’s a great movie but also features an automat in all of its glory. Please also see any detective film from the 40’s-50’s. I could go on as to why I love automats, but that’s another strange and esoteric article for another day.

I find the experience something of a surprise because you don’t come to IKEA for food. You come to find reasonably priced furniture and sometimes packaging frustration. I’m not saying that this eatery is going to win awards or something, but what I am saying is that you have healthy options that are not overpriced or hard to find.

IKEA operates these restaurants at a loss, because they realized that keeping families in the store would increase sales. As a person who has eaten here pre and post child, that is very true, because I usually don’t leave the building without something from the showroom floor or their market.

Yes, IKEA has a market.

The market has frozen meals that are both, again, healthy and convenient. My wife is Polish and has said repeatedly that the frozen potato pancakes they sell there taste like the ones her grandmother makes.

Perhaps the biggest kicker of them all is this: If you have their free family card you can get free coffee and tea! The coffee can taste like burnt motor oil, but it’s free!

As a writer, I don’t get why more of us are not setting up shop in IKEA? Comfy chairs, free coffee, and cheap healthy food.

If they served beer, I would never leave.