BEST DINNER UNDER $5 (2006)

Palm Tree Grill

Spam is a funny thing. So maligned, so wrongly identified with trailer parks and camping trips gone horribly wrong, this pink and quivering loaf of tinned meat has taken some serious hits over the years. And yet like sweetened condensed milk and processed rice pudding, it's also become inextricably linked with certain cuisines where its existence sometimes made the difference between life and death for those living in places geographically cut off from traditional supply lines. In Hawaii today, Spam is a perfectly integrated element of the food culture -- an indispensable, easily stored source of protein that reaches its peak in musubi: a slab of pan-fried Spam laid over a fist-sized ball of sticky sushi rice and tied in place with an artful ribbon of black nori. And thanks to the recent sprouting of the Palm Tree Grill in Aurora, you, too, can now cram some Spam on this section of the mainland.